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EU spoils Mantecas shot at Team Duals
East Union standout Jaysen Reindel waits for the officials call as he pins Tevita Latu of Sierra in a 222-pound match during Wednesdays Valley Oak League double-dual match at Dalben Center. - photo by HIME ROMERO/The Bulletin

Jaysen Reindel made quick work of his opponent and shot a glance at the Manteca coaches.

The standout sophomore 222-pounder for East Union had just clinched the win for the host Lancers on Wednesday and dashed visiting Manteca’s hopes of qualifying for the Sac-Joaquin Section Team Duals. 

“I was very motivated for that match,” Reindel said of his 13-second pin of Gagandeep Chouhah. “I have no qualms with the coach or with the kid, but I was in the zone and ready to wrestle.”

Their 45-30 win moves them into a second-place tie with Central Catholic, but since Central beat the Lancers head-to-head it is the Raiders who will join Valley Oak League power Oakdale at the section tournament on Feb. 6.

But for Reindel and Co., this was a nice consolation prize. On top of playing spoiler for the Buffaloes (4-3), East Union (5-2) gets bragging rights after it also downed Sierra (2-5) by the same score. Manteca dispatched Sierra, 47-33.

“The last time we beat both of them was in 2010, so it feels good to get them both on the same night,” Reindel said. He earlier scored a 35-second pin against Sierra’s Tevita Latu. “It feels good to finally be the in-town champions.”

It was nip and tuck to start as Dominic Day got Manteca rolling with a 1 minute, 36-second pin. But East Union won four of the next five matches, including Alan Huerta’s hard-earned 7-5 decision win over Mario Gonzalez at 147. Huerta led 7-1 in the second period but gave up two points late for stalling to give Gonzalez a chance.

“I just wanted to beat him any way that I could,” Huerta said. “I wanted to get the pin if I could, but I knew we needed (the team points).”

The tide momentarily shifted in Manteca’s favor after brothers Austin and Tyler Welch pulled off dramatic pinfall victories at 162 and 172. Austin was trailing Ruben Gallegos on points 13-4 but managed to squeak out the pin with 7 seconds to go in the second period. 

East Union freshman Levi Huffman staked a 7-0 lead against Tyler Welch, who ended up getting the pin in 2:37. The back-to-back wins pushed the Buffaloes ahead for the last time, 24-21.

“That’s how they wrestle and it drives me crazy,” Manteca coach Mark Varnum said. “We talk about a puncher’s chance, and those two, it doesn’t matter, they’ve been on their back all year more than anybody and they always find a way to get it. It drives me nuts but it’s nice when they have it in their back pocket. We actually call it ‘the Welch.’”

It was all East Union from there, as Joel Melena (184), Apollo Holmes (197) and Reindel secured pins in succession. The match ended with a series of forfeits, with East Union conceding at heavyweight and Manteca giving up free points at 108. Both forfeited at 115.

“I told the kids they’re going to be pumped up because if they win they go on,” East Union coach A.J. Reindel said. “I was proud of the way my kids, after a couple of tough matches, were still able to bounce back and finish strong.

“It doesn’t matter to us who goes (to Team Duals) if it’s not us, at the same time we’re not just going to lay down for somebody else. We had to play spoiler, unfortunately.”

Although the regular season ended in disappointment, Varnum said the body of work was far from one.

“All week we talked about having a chance to make history,” he said. “From talking to everybody it sounds like Manteca hasn’t advanced to team duals since 1999. We fell a little bit short, but we made a step forward from where we were a few years ago to where we are now. Just being in the conversation, I couldn’t be more proud of them.”

Day and both Welch brothers had two pins for the night. Sierra’s Branden Rullan (128) and Jordan Dollar (140) and Daniel Huerta (154) of East Union also recorded a pair of pins.