VACAVILLE — “Squishy” kept the Rodriguez High wrestling team from being shut out.
The Mustangs’ Anthony “Squishy” Ishaq pulled out a 2-1 victory over Vacaville’s Steven Gomez with an escape in the second overtime period Friday to win the heavyweight title – his team’s only one – during the Monticello Empire League Championships, Saturday, at Will. C. Wood High.
“That was very tiring,” Ishaq said of his 8-minute match. “I need to work on my energy. It feels pretty good (to win the title) because I was the only one (from Rodriguez). This definitely put me in a better spot for sections, gets me a better draw. Where you place now matters a lot.”
Vacaville High rolled to yet another MEL team championship, tallying 312.5 points to second-place Rodriguez’s 194. Wood (169.5) wound up third, Armijo (162.5) fourth, Napa (139.5) fifth and Vintage (29) sixth.
Rodriguez coach Mike Clarkston, whose team put seven wrestlers in the finals, was happy with Ishaq winning the Mustangs’ lone title.
“It’s special because it earns him a better spot next week (at the Sac-Joaquin Section Division I Championships),” Clarkston said. “Now it’s time to move on a pick up steam (for the postseason). I think everyone has something that they need to work on. We’ve all talked about it already.
“This is the first time that they’ve had (this much competition) at league. I don’t know if they came in ready for it. League is usually kind of a fun day and everybody moves on. . . . But everyone is starting to get zoned in on what the ultimate goal is.”
The top four finishers from the MEL finals advance to next week’s D-I tournament at Vintage High in Napa, and all 14 wrestlers from Vacaville are moving on.
The Bulldogs put all 14 of their grapplers into Saturday’s finals, with 11 of them coming away with individual titles.
That pleased Bulldogs’ co-head coach Adam Wight.
“We’ve always told our kids the year we go 14 for 14 is the year we retire,” Wight joked while his team was accepting the championship banner. “If they would have kept a dual meet score (in the finals), it would have been like 54-12. We have to be very happy with the effort that our kids put out.
“I think that some people don’t think that we take this very seriously, but this is a very good moment for us lining up (all 14 wrestlers) across the mat. It was kind of a MEL all-star team. It was cool. It was a good day for us and we had some kids break through, too.”
Bulldogs who won individual titles Saturday night included Gionn Peralta at 106 pounds, Kasey Klaus (120), Cameron Bailey (126), Bobby Ehman (132), Matt Brazet (138), Hayden Fry (145), Zach Dawson (152), Danny Delgado (160), Chris Lai (182), Jeramy Sweany (192) and Zach Crane (220).
Besides the Mustangs’ Ishaq, the only other wrestlers to win their weight classes were Wood’s Manny Griego (113) and Napa’s Ezra Morgan (170).
Clarkston also said he knows he needs to keep the youth wrestling programs going strong to maybe one day break Vacaville’s dominance of the MEL.
“This year we had a ton of young kids, 75 or 80 percent of underclassmen on our team,” Clarkston said. “Our youth program is starting to pick up steam . . . Hopefully in the next couple of years, they will come in with experience and they are active all offseason.
“They’re doing what they need to do to progress. You can see it in different spots. They make each other better.”
Here’s the list of other area athletes moving on to next week’s section tournament:
Armijo — Darius Levan (third, 106), Terrance Saeteurn (fourth, 113), Giron Jualo (fourth, 126), Hayden Scibek (second, 132), Dennis Mattiuzzi (fourth, 138), Jorge Perez (fourth, 152), Amini Kapapa (third, 160), Danny Charos (fourth, 170), Billy Cimmino (third, 182).
Rodriguez — Joemar Aniceto (fourth, 106), Brandon Vu (second, 120), Greg Papish (third, 126), Malachi Estep (fourth, 132), Josiah Sta Maria (third, 138), Ralph Carios (second, 145), Jacob Cross (third, 152), Joahua Weiss (second, 160), Richard Zodikoff (third, 170), Henry Medeiros (second, 182), Mark Papish (second, 195), Patrick Ferrer (second, 220).
Vacaville — Jesse Johnson (second, 170), Anthony Hernandez (second, 113).
Wood — JT Teel (second, 106), Hunter Morrison (third, 120), Alex Parvin (second, 138), Isaiah Sanchez (fourth, 145), Adrian Maldonado (second, 152), Markus Mourlot (fourth, 160), Christian Esquer (fourth, 195), Josh Winters (third, 220), William Hansen (third, 285).
Reach Brian Arnold at 427-6969 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/barnolddr.