STOCKTON — Ryan Mackey has made it look easy, but he’ll be the first to admit it hasn’t been.
Mackey stretched his undefeated streak to 12 Saturday in the Demolition Day tournament hosted by Stagg High, as the Ripon High standout won his third championship of the early season.
Mackey is one of nine area wrestlers to place in the marathon tournament, which lasted close to 12 hours Saturday. He started off with two pinfall victories and beat Robert Sasek of Las Plumas by a 9-4 decision to clinch the crown at 189 pounds.
Mackey, though, is physically better suited to wrestle at 171 pounds. He was the only area athlete to qualify to last year’s California Interscholastic Federation State Championships — at 152.
“I’m happy to be performing as well as I can,” Mackey said. “It’s tough wrestling guys 14-15 pounds heavier than you are, but it’s a good experience.
“I’m glad to be going through with it with some success, and we’ll see how it goes when I move down to 171. Overall, I’m pretty satisfied with my performance today, but there are still some things I have to touch up on.”
Weston Ranch 145-pounder Travis Bowen came oh so close to joining Mackey among the tournament’s elite. Following three pins to get into the championship round, Bowen was finally challenged by Foothill’s Chris Russell.
Bowen had control of Russell with the score tied at 5-all in the closing seconds of the third and final period of regulation, but Russell wriggled his way out of thew hold for a one-point escape.
“We knew Travis had a really good chance coming into the tournament,” said Weston Ranch coach Danny Lehr, who brought 24 wrestlers with him to Stagg. “He wrestled really well early on, but in the finals he lost a really close match.
“I think for him it will help him out. It’s our last preseason tournament before (Valley Oak) league, so it’s better for him to lose that way now than in the league tournament or at sections.”
Daniel Garcia (130) and Grand Mar (125) also placed for the Cougars, finishing third and fourth, respectively.
East Union was the least represented numbers-wise among the three area teams, but it ended up with the most placers.
Marco Castaneda (119), Jason Cortez (125), Parsa Davari (135) and Matt Neves (140) all turned in third-place finishes, with Davari working his way into his final match from the consolation bracket. Stevyn Teeple finished fourth at 130.
“We had a lot of guys all get to the (semifinals) like we expected them to, they just had some tough matches when they got there and didn’t shine,” East Union coach A.J. Reindel said. “But we did well overall, so I’m pretty pleased.”
Weston Ranch’s Joe Anthony Gomez pinned all four of his opponents en route to the 135-pound championship and was the only area wrestler to win at the Demolition Day’s junior varsity tournament.
Other placers from the area are: East Union’s D.J Ortega (second, 112), Ryan Treat (fourth, 125) and Tyler Watt (third, 119); Ripon’s Christian Spence (second, 189) and Justin Ornellas (third, 152); and Weston Ranch’s Yusaf Pasha (third, 145) and Francisco Lopez (fourth, 135).
At Turlock High, Sierra had a good all-around showing, tying Valley Oak League rival Sonora for seventh place (94.5 points) out of 24.
Oscar Castro highlighted five Timberwolf placers, as he made it all the way to the final round but was pinned in the first round by Downey’s Paul Snoderly — the sixth-ranked 189-pounder in the Sac-Joaquin Section.
Freshman Austin Soto (119) and sophomore Alex Nuanez (160) both took third. Aiden Foster (145) placed fifth, and Robert Howard (125) sixth).
“As a team we finished pretty well,” Sierra coach Frank Sabala said. “We had a few disappointing matches, but it gave us a good perspective of where we’re at and what improvements we need to make going into league.”
Manteca was led by Zack Williams’ third-place finish in the heavyweight division, while Shane McCullar was fifth at 171.