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Six place 2nd in Valley Oak championships
Cristian Garcia of Lathrop grabs the legs of Henry Torre in the 126-pound third-place match of the Valley Oak League meet at Sierra High won 10-3 by Garcia. - photo by DAVE CAMPBELL/The Bulletin

Six local wrestlers finished second Saturday in the Valley Oak League wrestling championships at Sierra High school.

Altogether 20 local wrestlers are advancing to the Sac-Joaquin Section Division III championships

 Alex Garcia of Lathrop (120 pounds) ran up against state-ranked Oakdale’s Nico Colunga for the championship and lost 7-0.

 “Nico is a good wrestler,” Garcia said “There is a reason why he is ranked in the Top-5 in the state.

 “I know what I need to work on and we will see each other again in Divisionals.”

 East Union’s Jaysen Reindel (220) fell behind Oakdale’s Wyatt Hjelm 11-0 in the championship match but battled back to lose 12-4 with Hjelm on his back fighting off a pin as the final whistle sounded.

 “I have always been taught to never give up,” Reindel said. “Even when you are down by 11 or heck, even when you are down by 14, you can come back to get a pin.

Manteca’s Steven Martinez (285) got going a little late and lost the championship match 5-3 to Matt Kjekdgarrd of Oakdale.

 “He just ran out of time,” Buffaloes coach Mark Varnum said. “We talked about picking his spots and he just picked his a little too late.

 “I am proud of him. He has had a heck of a year and he has a lot more wrestling left in him.”

 Three Sierra wrestlers placed second – Vincent Marquez (106), Alex Loaiza (128) and Jarrett Penner (152). Loaiza was forced to injury default in the finals due to a severe tooth injury while Marquez and Penner both lost via pin.

 “All my hard work is starting to pay off,” Marquez said. “But I stopped moving on him and I shouldn’t have done that.”

 Penner sees how far he has come in four years.

 “I fought hard for this,” Penner said. “I came a long way since I was a freshman and worked hard to get here my senior year and I am proud of it.”

 Lathrop’s Cristian Garcia (126) fought through fatigue to defeat Henry Torre of Weston Ranch 5-3 for third place.

 “I was really tired in the last match,” Cristian Garcia said. “My body was aching from the first matches and I was happy to get this day over with and go home and sleep.”

 East Union’s Gerardo Cuevas (132) pinned Jordan Dollar of Sierra in the consolation finals.

 “It felt pretty good to take third,” Cuevas said. “I was hoping to place higher but I have to work with what I have and I am happy to be moving on.”

 In the third-place match Sean Murray of Sierra (170) came from behind to pin John Aguilar of East Union.

 “Going into the last round I didn’t know if I could get him,” Murray said. “But I got the reversal and then I got the pin.”

 Manteca’s Justin Berg (182) found himself in a back-and-forth battle with Issac Huffman for third place before getting the pin.

 “I just wanted to work on my position,” Berg said. “I thought I had him in the first round with a head-and-arm. I eventually got him back down and stuck him – it was a great match.”

 The top four finishers advance to the two-day Sac-Joaquin Section Division III championships on Friday at River Valley High School in Yuba City.

 Advancing with third-place finishes were: Anthony Andrade (160) and David Saenz (220) of Sierra; Jason Betlej (120) and Gerardo Cuevas (132) of East Union; Weston Ranch’s Mark Garganilla (195) and Chris Chavez (285) and Manteca’s Eli Willis (152). 

 Branden Rullan (113), David Ketner (145) and Jacob Hampton (195) of Sierra finished fourth as did Keonne Linnel (138) and Devan Young (160) of Lathrop and East Union’s Ryan Bussberg (106) and Mike Villanueva (285).