VACAVILLE — There’s no question who is still the best wrestling team in the Monticello Empire League.
Wednesday night’s matchup at Harold Youngblood Gymnasium at Vacaville High pitted the league’s top two programs – Vacaville and Rodriguez – for the first time in a league dual meet since the Mustangs joined the MEL this season.
The Bulldogs promptly showed who was boss in a convincing 46-15 victory.
Vacaville co-head coach Adam Wight wanted his team to come out strong and set the tone.
“I appreciate their competitiveness,” Vaca co-coach Adam Wight said of the Mustangs. “We were definitely going to take them seriously, knowing their track record. We wanted our kids to wrestle hard and send a message that this is our league. We’ve been here a long time and we’re not quite ready to give it up yet. But they compete and we’re happy to wrestle with full lineups.
“We still have a couple of dings. You don’t get through a wrestling season without a couple of little nagging things. We’ll start getting (healthy) and ready for the postseason after this weekend.”
Rodriguez coach Mike Clarkston knew his team would have its work cut out for it.
“We knew they were tough all through their lineup this year,” Clarkston said. “I’ve been around for eight years now and this is one of the toughest teams I can remember them having. We dual them every year so it was totally different (in MEL action). I thought we could have shown a little bit better in some of the matches they were favored in. Otherwise, I thought we did all right.”
As for the MEL championships in two weeks?
“All the kids are coming up to me and saying ‘Coach, what do I need to work on?’ ” Clarkston said. “And wrestling teams like this show us where we’re at. If we can come back and fix (the little things wrong), it will help prepare us a little bit better now that we’ve seen what we look like against someone who’s that good.”
The Bulldogs bolted to a 27-0 lead after the first six matches, with Jordan Aquino (106 pounds), Kasey Klaus (126), Cameron Bailey (132) and Bobby Ehman (138) winning by pin, and Gionn Peralta (120) pulling out a tough 7-3 decision over Brandon Vu.
Ralph Carios (145) got the Mustangs’ first win of the night with a 6-5 decision over Matt Brazet, but a pin by the Bulldogs’ Hayden Fry (152) and a 16-2 major decision by Zack Dawson gave Vacaville an insurmountable 37-3 advantage.
Danny Delgado (170) upped the lead to 43-3 with a pin before Rodriguez’s Henry Medieros (182) got his team’s only pin over Zack Sandvick in exactly one minute.
Chris Lai (195) gave the Bulldogs a 46-9 lead with a 7-2 win over Mark Papish, before Patrick Ferrer (220) and Anthony Ishaq (285) won the last two matches for the Mustangs.
Reach Brian Arnold at 427-6969 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at barnolddr.