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Sierra wrestling makes history
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In his fifth season, coach Alex Nuanez has the Sierra High wrestling program trending in the right direction.

One year after making school history by qualifying for the Sac-Joaquin Section Team Duals, the Timberwolves clinched their first-ever Valley Oak League championship with a victory over East Union during Wednesday’s double dual meet at Manteca High.

That it was a junior varsity championship is of little significance to Nuanez.

His program is winning far more than it’s losing these days.

 “It was an outstanding feeling knowing we had an opportunity to win a JV championship. It was in our hands; we had destiny in our hands, and we knew what was in front of us,” Nuanez said. “Our young kids just battled hard.”

The JV program closed its dual season with a 6-1 record. Varsity finished 5-2 with victories over Manteca and East Union. Its only losses were to perennial powerhouse programs Oakdale and Central Catholic.

The pinnacle moment in the JV team’s dash to a VOL title was a 36-30 victory over Oakdale, a championship factory at every level.

Heavyweight Amalio Durazo clinched the win for the Timberwolves with a first-round pin in the final match, breaking a 30-30 tie.

“Our program is getting stronger and stronger every year. Last year, varsity went to team sections for the first time in school history. When we beat Oakdale earlier in the year, we knew we have a good chance of winning it all,” Nuanez said. “That lit a fire in our JV team.”

The season isn’t over yet.

The JV and varsity teams will host the Valley Oak League Championships on Saturday, Feb. 14.

Nuanez said there is a wrestling “buzz” on a campus lauded for its boys basketball program.

“Walking into school, kids were getting congratulated for what we accomplished. It has made our program standout,” Nuanez said. “We’ve put Sierra in the top two or three teams in our league.”

Sierra varsity

dominates rivals

David Saenz had a pair of pins and Vincent Marquez put on a takedown clinic as the Sierra varsity team rolled over Manteca and East Union during Wednesday’s double dual finale.

The 220-pound Saenz was the only Timberwolf to record two pins. Marquez, meanwhile, was a technician in his sweeping victories at 120s. He posted 10-2 and 7-2 victories over Manteca and East Union, respectively.

“It was good going into a crosstown rival’s house and dominating like the way we did,” Nuanez said.

Blades sharp for Buffs

in rivalry win over EU

With one match to go, East Union had a chance to escape Winter Gym with a come-from-behind win over its longtime rival.

Michael Blades cut through the drama, sealing Manteca’s 42-33 victory with first-round pin.

The dual arrived at the 120-pound weight class still very much in limbo. The Buffs clung to a 36-33 lead and the matchup was a toss-up, said Manteca coach Mark Varnum.

“They had wrestled one time before and I think Michael won by a point,” Varnum said. “It could have gone either way, but he was in it from the get-go. It was fun.”

Manteca’s four seniors

go out with a BANG!

Manteca celebrated its four seniors on Wednesday: Michael Padilla (170 pounds), Justin Berg (182), Jason Maravilla (160) and Steven Martinez (heavyweight).

All four recorded pins in their final home match.

“They were pretty pumped up,” Varnum said. “That’s the way they wanted to go out.”

The pin continues a strong season for Martinez, whose only lost once all season. That setback came at the Lloyd Engel Tournament in Escalon.

Martinez reached the Sac-Joaquin Section Masters Tournament last year.

“He’s been working pretty hard all year and he’s looking to build on that,” Varnum said. “You never know. (Wrestling is) always full of surprises. I think he’s poised to go on a little run.”