STOCKTON — The 2012-13 Vacaville High wrestling team helped coaches Clint Birch and Adam Wight join some elite company.
The Bulldogs crowned four individual champions and tallied 244 total points to claim the Sac-Joaquin Section Masters Championship at Stockton Arena Saturday, the sixth Masters title under the coaching duo.
Bulldogs’ legendary coach Larry Nelson also had six Masters championships, bringing the school’s overall total to 15.
“I’m really happy for Clint,” Wight said. “Clint wrestled for Larry and I think has always felt some responsibility being an (alumnus), carrying on the program. At least now he can look over at the old man and say ‘I’m doing a pretty good job.’ ”
Vaca’s Gionn Peralta dominated the 106-pound weight class, finishing the tournament 5-0 with five pins – all in the first round.
“I’m feeling great,” Peralta said. “Now I’m going to go after a state title.”
Wight knew Peralta had it in him.
“With Gionn, we knew going down to (106) would be the right weight class to have a good job at winning a state championship,” the coach said. “I think he’s the front-runner going into next week. He’s a stud.”
The top seven finishers from the Masters advance to the CIF State Championships in Bakersfield.
The Bulldogs’ Kasey Klaus was the next to win a title, this one at 120 pounds, with an 8-2 decision in the final.
“It feels great,” Klaus said. “There’s no better feeling than being a champ. Next week I’ll be looking for that state championship.”
Hayden Fry (145) and Jeramy Sweany (195) rounded out the individual champions for the Bulldogs, who will send 10 of their 14 wrestlers to Bakersfield.
“Getting 10 (wrestlers) to the state meet is a big deal,” Wight said. “I have got to imagine that there maybe just two teams in the state that might have more. That puts us in a position to maybe make a run (at the state championship team title).
“We need some things to fall into place. We’re going to give it our best shot. I’m proud of our kids. I just hope this isn’t the peak yet.”
Rodriguez High, which finished 13th as a team with 53 points, enjoyed its own success Saturday and will send three wrestlers down south.
Henry Medeiros was the top finisher, winding up fourth after falling to Vacaville’s Chris Lai in the third-place match.
“It was familiar,” Lai said of wrestling Medeiros. “It’s hard when you wrestle somebody you’ve wrestled before because they know your moves and you know their moves. I would have liked to have gotten first, obviously, but once I lost (Friday), this was the best I could do. I’m proud of the way I came back like that.”
Brandon Vu (120) finished in sixth place and teammate Mark Papish (195) was seventh.
That was a difficult place to be for Papish, wrestling to keep his season alive.
“I was absolutely terrified,” Papish said. “It’s the scariest position you can be in in this sport. I’ve wrestled (Chavez’s Josh Phillips) before . . . and I noticed that whenever he goes to set something up, he really opens up. So when he went to set something up, I’d shoot right away. That’s what helped me right there.”
Rodriguez coach Mike Clarkston was proud of his team’s accomplishments Saturday.
“We only had three left the second day, so we had a day were nobody was eliminated. All three of them have been busting their butts all season. It’s payoff time and they cashed in all that hard work today. That’s nice.”
Other area wrestlers to advance to the state championships were Anthony Hernandez (Vacaville, 3rd, 113), Cameron Bailey (Vacaville, 3rd, 126), Bobby Ehman (Vacaville, 6th, 132), Zach Dawson (Vacaville, 5th, 152), Josh Winters (Wood, 2nd, 220) and Steven Gomez (Vacaville, 6th, 285).
Other local wrestlers eliminated Saturday were J.T. Teel (Wood, 3-2, 106), Darius Levan (Armijo, 3-2, 106), Adrian Maldonado (Wood, 8th, 152), and Zach Crane (Vacaville, 2-2, 220).
Reach Brian Arnold at 427-6969 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him Twitter at www.twitter.com/barnolddr.