STOCKTON – Sierra jumped out to a quick but not-so comfortable lead thanks to three early forfeits Saturday during the first round of the Sac-Joaquin Section Division IV Team Dual Championships at Lincoln High.
Vista del Lago trailed by 19 halfway through the match, but still finished strong for a 39-34 win after Sierra was forced to forfeit its last bout at 145.
The Timberwolves -- 6-1, second-place finishers in the Valley Oak League behind champion Oakdale -- gave up the last six points after leading by one with Billy Fishburn up.
Fishburn twisted his ankle during the first 30 seconds of the match, and that eventually forced the coaching staff to throw in the towel in the second round after trailing 6-0.
“The coach made the right choice in a tournament like this,” Vista del Lago head coach Frank Richmond said. “I thought (Sierra) had solid kids all the way though.
“Every kid wrestled hard, and when you have heart you’re going to have a close dual. It was exciting and good for (both) teams.”
Sierra head coach Alex Nuanez had a different take.
“We didn’t come out with heart,” Nuanez said. “We came out here and thought we were going to win it all or at least get to the finals. We just didn’t wrestle with heart.”
Sierra’s freshman Branden Rullan (106) and senior teammate Simon Marquez (132) came out with a purpose.
Rullan dominated against Andrew Vaquero 9-0 and used solid defense during the final two rounds to help his squad to a 31-12 lead.
“Branden stepped up big,” Nuanez added. “He wanted to come out and take charge and take command.”
Marquez took command during his 132-pound bout, too, which he came out on top 7-2 and pushed the Timberwolves’ lead out to five (34-29) with two matches left.
At 138, Sierra’s Russel Marquez had his hands full against Jesse Zhang, who got out to a 5-0 lead before Marquez cut his deficit to one with a near fall at the end of the first period. Down the stretch, however, Zhang got the better of Marquez and outworked him 19-7 for a four-point, major decision that made it 34-33.
Vista del Lago scored the first six points of the match at 152 as well that Vista del Lago’s head coach felt was crucial. Sierra’s Juan Ranglapan got out to a 4-2 lead over Isaak Butcher, who came back to go up 9-6 before getting the pin in the second round.
“I think (that) was the match that won it for us,” Richmond said. “(Butcher) was a JV kid of ours that had to step up. He went out there and wrestled and went after (Ranglapan).”
Sierra gave up three pins at 113 (Vince Marquez), 120 (Anthony Salgado) and 126 (Alex Loiza), which turned a 31-12 cushion into 31-29.
Sierra’s Hunter Wheeler (182) earned a fall for Sierra over Ben Johnson in the second round that handed the T’Wolves an early 18-point lead. That was followed by David Saenz (220) defeating Josh Zielenski in three rounds (8-4), which made it 27-6 Sierra.
“We didn’t wrestle at all,” Nuanez concluded. “We had to forfeit our last match with Billy because of injury. We wanted to make sure he was ready for (the VOL Tournament) next week, so we pulled him out and that forfeit killed us.”
Vista del Lago lost in the second round against Central Valley of the Western Athletic Conference, who then lost against the VOL champion in the finals. Oakdale won the section’s team tournament for the sixth consecutive year.
The VOL Tournament is slated for 9 a.m. this Saturday at Sonora High.
Calaveras 55, Ripon 22
The Indians snuck in the section’s Division V team dual tournament and were scheduled to take on Mesa Verde, who didn’t show up. Ripon then advanced to the second round, where they came up short against the eventual D-V champions Calaveras.
The Indians’ 160-pound sophomore Angelo Calderon won by a major decision and fellow sophomores Javier Hernandez (138) and Tristan Smith (220) won by falls. Senior Edgar Gonzalez at 128 pounds also picked up six via pin.