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Liberty hosts Big XII wrestling tourney

Tyler Takeda/The Madera Tribune

Liberty heavyweight Javier Lopez tries to score more points in the Chukchansi Invitational seventh-eighth place match. Lopez, who lost the match in sudden death overtime, will lead the Hawks on Saturday, hosting the Big XII Duals at Ranchos Middle School.


For the first time in its history, the Liberty Hawks wrestling team will host its own tournament.
The Hawks will host 12 teams in the Big XII tournament Saturday at Ranchos Middle School, beginning a 9 a.m.


“Twelve is the maximum amount of teams we could host,” said first year wrestling coach Jay Pumarejo. “It was originally the Big 8, then the Big 10 and we had to cap it at 12 teams.”


Pumarejo came up with the idea to host a tournament because the other tournament for Central Section teams to go to is the Zinkin Tournament at Buchanan-Fresno High School.


“We wanted to get as many sections involved as possible,” he said. “We cast a wide net. The idea behind it is that in the Central Valley Buchanan is hosting a gigantic tournament. Their tournament goals are different than ours. They are trying to build an extremely national powerful individual tournament.”


Whereas Liberty’s tournament will focus on dual matches with a team concept. 


“It’s one school versus one school,” Pumarejo said. “It’s easier for the fans and easier for the coaches to keep the team together. Those other tournaments are all day long and you’re stuck in a gym. What we’re going to do is put these matches back-to-back. The goal is to try to get out of there with some daylight left and host a quality event that will host teams from all over.”


Eleven teams from the Central Section will compete, along with Downy-Modesto. Among the Central Section teams includes Madera and Liberty’s North Sequoia League opponent Kerman. Also competing will be Hoover-Fresno, Dos Palos, Hanford West, Garces, Shafter, Highland-Bakersfield, Mission Oak-Tulare and Golden West-Visalia. 


Pumarejo said the tournament will begin at 9 a.m. and should get done by 5 p.m. 


“We will have six mats down,” he said. “There will be four pools of three and then separate into gold, silver and bronze pools. Each team will get five duals each.”


Pumarejo was surprised at the response he got from other teams that wanted to get into his tournament and hopes this tournament helps give the Hawks’ wrestling team more credibility. 


“We got off to a late start because it’s only my first year in the community,” he said. “This tournament also gives local teams a chance to get five quality matches in without going to that big tournament while also getting their teams better.”