VACAVILLE — Two days in Minnesota each year does more for the Vacaville High wrestling team than any West Coast tournament.
This year, the Bulldogs (13-2) took 13th overall at The Clash in Rochester, Minn., taking on top-ranked teams from across the nation.
On Friday, the Bulldogs beat Owatonna, Minn., 44-18 in the opening round, before falling in close matches with a pair of state-ranked Georgia schools. They lost to Kasson-Mantorville of Georgia 37-29 in the second round and to Pope, Ga., 33-30 in the third round.
“The format of the tournament is that you’re in an eight-team bracket that determines your pool for the second day,” said Vacaville coach Adam Wight. “All the 3-0 teams are in one pool, all the 2-1 teams, etc. So we ended up in Division 4, but we felt we were Division 2 level.”
The teams that beat the Bulldogs on Day 1 finished sixth and ninth overall in the tournament.
“So we just fell short of where we wanted to be,” Wight said. “If you look at the top half of the tournament, most of the teams are nationally ranked.”
So facing off against that kind of competition can’t be anything but good for the Vaca grapplers as they move into the Monticello Empire League season.
On Day 2 of The Clash, Vacaville went undefeated in its bracket, beating Kearney Missouri 36-24, Collins Hill, Ga., 47-17 and Jefferson Ga., 54-22.
Wight also said the out-of-state trip gives a number of benefits.
“It’s a great team bonding experience, we get to get away and be together as a team,” he said. “And all those matches back there are state-level matches. I can’t find a tournament on the West Coast that can get me six state-level matches in two days.”
The Bulldogs have been going to The Clash since its inception in 2002.
“We get to represent our state and that’s a big honor and a privilege,” Wight said. “We always come back and we’re better off. The kids are always better for having wrestled at that tournament.”
Depending on how the team fares in Minnesota, the Bulldogs’ next opponent may want to take notice.
“It usually makes us one of two things. It either makes us grumpy and we take it out on our first league opponent, which is Napa (Wednesday), or it gives us a huge confidence boost,” Wight said. “When we got back, the kids said they were happy with their performance, but not satisfied.”
Wight said he’s pleased his wrestlers know there are improvements to be made.
After visiting Napa Wednesday, the Bulldogs take on No. 1 Clovis in a battle of the two top-ranked teams in the state.
Reach Mike Corpos at 427-6979, or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/mcorposdr.