NAPA — Nine finalists and seven champions add up to yet another blue banner.
That was the case for the Bulldogs Saturday as they rolled to the Sac-Joaquin Section Division IAA championship with 302.5 points, easily outdistancing second-place Del Oro’s 193.5. Rodriguez High finished third with 114.5, with Gregori and Will C. Wood tying for fourth with 112.5. Armijo managed 29 points and wound up tied for 18th.
The top eight finishers from the section finals advance to next weekend’s SJS Masters Championships at Stockton Arena.
As for the Bulldogs winning another section championship?
“I think five of our kids repeated (as section champions),” Vacaville co-head coach Adam Wight said. “What that does is sets us up good for next week and make sure we put ourselves into position to be successful, which is important. I really liked the way we wrestled in the finals.”
Gionn Peralta started the roll toward the title, winning a 15-0 technical fall at 106 pounds, with Anthony Hernandez finishing second at 113 pounds in the next match.
It was an all-Monticello Empire League final at 120 pounds, with the Bulldogs’ Kasey Klaus posting a 9-1 major decision over Rodriguez’s Brandon Vu.
Vu was a little discouraged after losing to Klaus in a final for the second straight week.
“(I wasn’t happy) because last year I was a section champ (in Division III),” Vu said.
Mustangs coach Mike Clarkston thought Vu might have a chance, but pointed out Saturday’s faults.
“He made one mistake early, leaving his feet and dove at the guy’s legs and (Klaus) got a three-point near fall out of it,” Clarkston said. “Other than that, he just didn’t commit to his shots today. He took a lot of them when he just stayed in front, kind of half wanting it. It’s the mentality and wanting to take the shots all the time. There’s no half (speed) anymore. It’s all in or nothing.”
Adding to his team’s points total, Vacaville’s Cameron Bailey finished at 126 before the Bulldogs’ Bobby Ehman won the title at 132 pounds.
“Bobby Ehman really showed a lot of heart,” Wight said. “He’s kind of a kid that really defines us. He’s a kid that’s not a superstar, he just kind of grinds away at guys and shows heart and worked hard.”
The Bulldogs’ easiest win came at 145 pounds when Hayden Fry was handed the championship when Grace Davis’ Levi Kemple defaulted after an injury. Vaca’s Zach Dawson was next to win a title, decisioning Gregori’s Latrell Benjamin 6-2.
Danny Delgado took the 160 title next, while teammate Jessie Johnson wound up seventh at 170.
The Bulldogs’ Chris Lai kept Vacaville’s machine chugging, winning a 3-0 decision at 182 pounds, and Jeramy Sweany won the seventh title with a first-period pin over Merrill West’s Amrit Singh.
The only other area wrestler to win an individual championship Saturday was Wood’s Josh Winters, who bounced back from a disappointing third-place MEL finish a week ago to win at 220 pounds.
“It feels pretty good,” Winters said of his first section title. “I liked coming back from the bottom of the bracket. No one thought I was going to win today. I just want to make it to state.”
With all fourteen of his wrestlers moving on to next week’s action, Wight knows another blue banner may be coming back to Vacaville.
“(Winning a Masters championship) is always important to us,” Wight admitted. “We talk about if there’s a blue banner out there, we want to compete to win it. In some ways Masters is a big, defining thing for our program.
“Right now Clint (Birch) and I have five (Masters titles) and (former coach) Larry (Nelson) has six. I’ve been thinking about that this year, tying Larry. Larry may be untouchable in some ways, but (Clint) and I have talked about setting records. We’re on a good run and we just hope it keeps up for the next couple of weeks.”
Other Vacaville wrestling moving on are Matt Brazet (seventh, 138), Zach Crane (fifth, 220) and Steven Gomez (fourth, 285).
Joining Wood’s Winters at the Masters will be teammates J.T. Teel (second, 106), Manny Griego (third, 113), Hunter Morrison (fourth, 120), Alex Parvin (fifth, 138) and Adrian Maldonado (third, 152).
Reach Brian Arnold at 427-6969 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/barnolddr.