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Castaneda crowned in Rocklin
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ROCKLIN – The remarkable story that is Marco Castaneda’s 2008-09 wrestling season grew even more impressive Saturday at Whitney High as East Union’s 119-pounder won the Sac-Joaquin Section Division IV championship with a 19-16 win over Whitney’s Jordan Achanzar.

Castaneda was dominating the title match, collecting a number of near-falls, tilts and cradles, but Achanzar countered in the third period with a pair of 5-point Peterson Rolls to knot the battle at 16 apiece.

With 30 seconds left, Castaneda then collected an escape and a quick takedown before holding on for the title.

“Marco is peaking at the right time,” EU head coach A.J. Reindel said. “He’s wrestling very well. No. 1 heading into the Masters, he’s starting to think that the state tournament is within reach.

“At this point though, a lot of it depends on ending up on the right side of the bracket. Luck is involved, but there’s no doubt that Marco is doing very good.”

The same could be said for Jason Cortez, Matt Neves, Albert Aguilar and Devon Woodall. All four Lancers etched out a spot at the Masters with fifth-place finishes.

East Union finished 5th overall in the team point standings and had the most wrestlers qualify for the Masters in the area.

“People were coming up to me saying, ‘They’re starting to talk about EU,’” Reindel said. “Albert and Devon, I have to admit, were somewhat of a surprise. Devon’s just a sophomore with no varsity experience, but he’s a big boy, and he beat some kids he wasn’t supposed to.”

Aguilar, meanwhile, has flourished at the 215-pound level after wrestling light at heavyweight most of the season.

Cortez faced a number of tough matches throughout the tournament, and Neves rolled an ankle in the semifinals, but battled through the injury to take fifth.

Reindel is uncertain as to whether or not Neves will be 100 percent for the Masters.

Sierra finished just two points behind East Union in the point standings to finish sixth overall, and qualified four grapplers for the Masters.

189-pounder Oscar Castro finished second overall, while Aiden Foster and Alex Nuanez both finished third.

Robert Howard was disappointed with his fifth-place finish, especially after winning divisionals a year ago. Nonetheless, back-to-back Masters appearances to close out his Timberwolf career speaks volumes for the 119-pounder.

“Aiden wrestled really well in the semifinals and came away with a one-point loss,” Sierra head coach Frank Sabala said. “Alex also lost by one point on a questionable call, but you can’t rely on the refs.”

“We’re feeling good, we had two kids who never placed (at divisionals) earn a shot to move on.”

After losing what head coach John Vazquez called a “fluke match” Friday at Whitney High, Manteca heavyweight Zach Williams capped the tournament in impressive fashion by winning the consolation bracket for a third-place overall finish.

“Zach worked very hard to get back in it,” Vazquez said. “He definitely redeemed himself. He’s feeling very good heading into the Masters.”

Part of that confidence came when Williams pinned a Mesa Verde wrestler in the first round Saturday, the same wrestler that gave Williams fits in a tournament earlier in the season.

Although head coach Pat King was none too happy with Weston Ranch’s overall performance, the Cougars qualified four for the Masters.

Chris Rodriguez (3rd), Travis Bowen (5th), Chris Contreras (4th) and Ramon Cortez (5th) will all travel to Stockton Thursday.

“We got four through, but we felt like we should have had six,” King said. “There were a few disappointments; we felt that Eddie Reed was one of the better heavyweights in the section.”

Bowen missed two practices last week with a nasty virus, and Contreras was also affected by an illness, so much so that it cost him in a one-point match when the Cougar had to leave the mat and failed to tell the referee.

“Travis is better than fifth. Chris is better than fourth,” King said. “We know it and they know it. We didn’t wrestle poorly, but we didn’t wrestle how we could have.”

— Brandon Petersen