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Several area wrestlers extend season into the SJS Masters
Lathrop Highs senior Andrew Aquino just missed out on a section championship, losing in double-overtime in the championship match.

WESTON RANCH – For two of the Valley Oak League’s best wrestlers, their quest for Sac-Joaquin Section titles came to abrupt end in overtime losses. Both wrestlers though and several other VOL standouts earned the right to extend their season into next week’s Masters Championships.

Andrew Aquino of Lathrop (120-pound) and Donnell Simms of Weston Ranch (182-pound) were the only wrestlers to land a match in the championship finals. Both wrestlers fought vigorously into overtime, but came up on the short end of the quest on both occasions.

Aquino pushed his way into overtime against Oakdale’s Max Stevens with a pair of escapes and a late stalling point. Aquino’s last ditch effort to tie the match came up short with a one-point escape as time expired.

“I went out there knowing that I was not going to give up,” Aquino said. “This was my third time wrestling him, so I came in thinking that the third time was the charm. He’s a good wrestler, but I gave it my all and I’m happy with what I’ve been able to do this season.

“I have improved throughout my four years of wrestling.”

Like Aquino, Simms’ dream for back-to-back section titles ended in bonus time. Oakdale’s Hondo Arpoika went up 2-0 early and added to the lead on a point awarded for Simms performing an illegal hand lock. The defending champ was able to tie the match, but in overtime Arpoika struck with a controversial two-point takedown.

“He locked his hands early on and that was the difference in the match,” Cougars head coach Pat King said. “He’ll understand it and agree with it a little more tomorrow, but tonight he’s a little bit upset. The main thing is he won this tournament last year and got knocked out of master’s the second day.

“There’s no question he expects to win this tournament and he wanted to, however he’s going to be focused at masters.”

Of the wrestlers that will continue into the masters championships, Manteca’s Charlie Alvitre (113-pound), Weston Ranch’s James Simmerly (152-pound), and East Union’s Felipe Duran all earned third place finishes.

Weston Ranch’s Nate Bowen (106-pound), Brandon Mungarro (138-pound) and Daniel Guzman (120-pound) all helped the Cougars finish second in the total team score, trailing only VOL foe Oakdale in the final section standings.

The Cougars’ Luis Ochoa, Israel Lopez and Sierra’s Lucas Widmer likely enjoyed the tournament more than any of the other area wrestlers, extending their season with victories in the do-or-die fifth-sixth place matches. The winners advance with a masters berth, while the losers deal with the closing of a season.

“I was really focused coming into the match,” Widmer said. “All I was thinking was win or go home, that’s all I thought. I feel really good about advancing, I’m only a sophomore, so I know I have a lot to learn and this is a big accomplishment for me.”