STOCKTON — With a random draw to determine the starting weight in dual wrestling matches, the final bout of the night is not often between the heavyweights.
On Wednesday night in the Valley Oak League opener between host Weston Ranch and Manteca, not only was the heavyweight bout the last one of the night, but it came down to the big boys to determine which team would win the match.
Steven Martinez and Rodrigo Ortega took the mat with the score tied at 36. Manteca’s Martinez took a 2-0 lead into the second period when he pinned Ortega with seven seconds left in the period to give Manteca a 42-36 win.
“It has been a year since I wrestled because I came in straight out of football,” Martinez said. “But I know what I am doing.
“I did what my coaches said. I’m a big guy, so I am not a reversal or a shoot guy. I just kept on reflecting him and spinning on me doesn’t work so when he tried to spin me I countered.”
The match with Weston Ranch was something first-year Manteca coach Mark Varnum was focusing on for a while.
“When I took the job in the spring this was something we talked about,” Varnum said. “They really, really put it on us last year so one of our goals was to come back and earn some respect.
“We had three Rs for this year: recruiting, respect and the Ranch. We did a good job recruiting; we finally have a full bus. We have tried to earn respect a little bit and we got the Ranch. That was one of our goals as they are a great program, one of the best in the league.”
Ortega was bothered by an injured shoulder and almost did not finish the match.
“We almost pulled him – that’s why I called the injury timeout,” Cougars coach Pat King said of the timeout he called late in the first period. “And they just beat us up. I told the kids that Manteca was not more skilled than they were, they were just tougher.
“We have 70 kids in the wrestling program, but we just don’t have the tough kids this year. We were thinking of wrestling some of our girls tonight because they are wrestling tougher at this point.”
With three matches remaining, the Buffaloes led 36-24 and needed to avoid getting pinned to secure the win. Mark Carganilla (195) and Cody Simerley (220) both battled to get pins for Weston Ranch, setting up the winner-take-all bout between Martinez and Ortega.
Uriel Saldivar (120), Brendon Curtright (126) and Devon Preyer (152) also got pins for the Cougars. Freddy Farias (145), Eli Willis (160), Michael Padilla (170) and Travis Burciaga (182) all had pins for Manteca with Padilla getting his in just 28 seconds. Cameron Flores (113) and Marcus Avila (132) won decisions for the Buffaloes.
Trans Valley League
Gabe Barnett (152s) and Angelo Baciocco (145s) both won both of their matches during a TVL opener against Orestimba and Riverbank. Ripon (2-0) eased past both opponents, 69-6 over the Warriors and 78-6 against the Bruins. Barnett was impressive, recording a 38 and 39-second pin. Ripon will compete at a tournament in Calaveras Saturday, followed by a dual meet next Wednesday at Hilmar High.