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Nuanez continues season with Sierras first-ever CIF State berth
Aaron Ceballos of McNair High takes care of business during his semifinal action against Devin Nanik of Bret Harte Saturday in Stockton.
STOCKTON – Alex Nuanez didn’t just punch the first ticket to the California Interscholastic Federation Championships in Sierra High’s school history, he did it in style. Nuanez destroyed Steven Arrambide of Vintage High with a second-round pin to close out the Sac-Joaquin Section Masters Tournament with a third-place finish in the 171-pound division.

“To me, that was his best match all season,” Sierra head coach Bob Blanco said of his final match. “These guys are a good dozen pounds heavier than he is; they’ve got more height than he does, but Alex has so much skill and he is so quick that he always does well.

“I really am so proud of him.”

Nuanez took the long route to Bakersfield, beating Zac Andrews (Beyer), Austin Wilson (Mesa Verde) and Angelo Petriello (Argonaut) on his way to the third-place match. Both Wilson and Arrambide entered the tournament with higher section rankings than Nuanez, third and fourth, respectively, but could not outlast the area’s lone advancer when it counted most.

“This really meant a lot actually,” Nuanez said of his state berth. “From my freshman year the coaches always talked about no one ever making it to the second-day of Masters or making it to state, so I wanted to be that first kid.

“Last year I was two matches away, this year I’m going.”

Two Weston Ranch wrestlers couldn’t avoid season-ending losses, as Travis Bowen (140-lb) and Chris Contreras (189-lb) were both defeated early on in consolation action. Both Cougars opened their matches in complete control getting ahead on the scoreboard in the early minutes, but failed to hold their lead.

Contreras dropped a major decision to Elk Grove’s Matt Dankin, while Bowen was stopped by Jesse Routsong with a second-round pin.

Bowen missed out on a pin opportunity which Routsong rode right into his pin.

“The one time Travis got high all year and got out in front of the kid, he got taken to his back,” Weston Ranch head coach Pat King said. “When you’re wrestling a good kid and get taken to your back, it’s a bad situation.

“Both Travis and Chris worked hard all year and I’m proud of those two guys.”

Contreras battled and battled, reeling off three consolation bracket wins before being stopped by Dakin. The two-day tournament proved too taxing for Contreras, giving him an up close glimpse at the rough path some wrestlers take to state.

“This is the hardest thing I have ever done in my life,” Contreras said. “It took everything just to get through yesterday. It is a lot of work.

“I have a lot of respect for all of the wrestlers that make it to the state championships.”

Manteca resident and McNair High of Stockton senior Aaron Ceballos just missed out on his quest for the 130-pound title, losing to No. 1 ranked Shane Tate of Oakdale 7-6. Ceballos’ season is far from done, easily earning one of the seven awarded berths with his runner-up finish.

Now the action will head south to the Rabobank Arena in Bakersfield, where grapplers from all over the state will vie for one of the most challenging titles in high school athletics. Earning a berth into state is a huge accomplishment, but more than that it is another opportunity.

“All of these kids know how hard it is at the next level,” Blanco said. “We will mainly just watch his weight and make sure it’s OK. He can always get better, but he is looking good.

“Alex is looking sharp; he’s peaking at the right time.”