Only a select few are still dropping perspiration on the mats in hopes of continuing a season-long journey. For some the journey has been a success by still being alive, but for one of the highly-touted wrestlers in the Sac-Joaquin Section, anything short of a title would be a letdown.
Manteca resident and California Interscholastic Federation State Championships hopeful Aaron Ceballos will begin the grind for the 130-pound weight-class title in Stockton. Ceballos is under the tutelage of first-year head coach and older brother Elizar Ceballos, who is guiding five grapplers into the Masters Tournament Friday and Saturday.
Elizar, who made a run to state his junior year at Manteca High, and earned a sixth-place finish, took over the reins at McNair from his high school coach and McNair’s first-ever head coach Anthony Romero.
Now, Aaron finds himself closing out a Ceballos family legacy of wrestlers, and he’s poised to finish off the journey with something to brag about.
“Ever since I’ve been in this program they have told me to look at my goals,” Aaron said. “And if you really want to complete them, then you’re going to work hard.
“So now I am focused on winning the section and then hopefully winning state.”
Aaron is the final installment of a trilogy of Ceballoses that all earned postseason accolades. Elizar’s younger brother Efren, also a Manteca High graduate, was a three-time state qualifier with a fourth-place finish.
“I think this is my most important season,” Aaron said. “Not just because I am a senior, but also because I have failed to do what I’ve wanted to do in the past two years. Now I am realizing that this is my last year and I have to go with my guns blazing.”
Aaron’s run to a section championship will have to go through The California Wrestler’s No. 1 ranked 130-pounder Shane Tate from Oakdale. Tate has made the trip to Bakersfield in each of his first two seasons and looked sharp in a 3-0 run to the Division IV title.
Injuries have plagued Aaron over the past few postseasons, but now his health should not be a deciding factor amidst his pursuit of a championship. Two seasons ago Aaron earned a berth into the state tournament, but had his run halted by a knee injury. Last season a devastating neck injury in the Division I South finals against Turlock standout Fabian Garcia ended Aaron’s hopes for consecutive state berths.
“I think Aaron is pretty healthy, but at this point in the season everybody has their bumps and bruises,” Elizar said. “I believe we will see Aaron in the finals. He has all the talent, he has the drive, and more importantly, he has that expectation on himself to be in the finals.
“With all that being said, if everything goes right we expect him to be in the finals.”
Now Aaron will look to pave his way to center stage this weekend at the Stockton Arena, closing out an illustrious high school wrestling career as well as a decorated family tradition.
“Our coaching staff gave me a week-and-a-half off so I could rest up a knee injury,” Aaron said of the time leading up to this point. “I didn’t practice, I didn’t run, I didn’t lift weights I just took the time off.
“I think that was the perfect break I needed to peak at the right moment.”