Wendy Alexander/The Madera Tribune
Liberty sophomore Francisco Rojas takes control of his 220-pound match. He eventually got a pin to win the North Sequoia League championship.
Despite not wrestling the entire day until his finals match, Liberty’s Francisco Rojas recorded a pin in the final period to capture the North Sequoia League championship at 220 pounds.
Rojas’ championship was Liberty’s only one Thursday while hosting the NSL tournament. The Hawks came away with two second place medals and a fourth place team finish behind champion Kerman, Washington Union-Easton and Chowchilla.
“It was not expected until we went to the seeding meeting because the champion at 195 pounds has wrestled at 220 pounds,” head coach Jay Pumarejo said. “We lost to him in the dual. We had a good idea we could be a league champion. We were confident he could get the championship. Getting a pin in the finals is very exciting.”
The Hawks had five wrestlers place in the top three and seven qualify for next week’s Sierra/Sequoia Division championships at Sierra Pacific High School-Hanford on Friday and Saturday.
“That’s a high percentage of qualifiers for our program considering the population size of our school,” Pumarejo said. “To take that many to the championship shows we are going in the right direction.”
Rojas, a sophomore, had an easy but long ride to the finals. He had to check in at 8:45 a.m. for weigh-ins and then waited until about 11:30 to find out he didn’t have a match. As the No. 1 seed in the NSL, he received byes until the finals, where he faced Kerman’s Kameron Madron, who defeated Washington Union’s Juan Maravilla to advance to the championship.
In the finals, Rojas recorded a takedown 30 seconds into the match. However, two technical violations and an escape gave Madron a 3-2 lead at the end of the first period.
In the second, Rojas reclaimed the lead with a reversal and led by one heading into the third. Madron got an escape five seconds into the period to tie the match.
With 1:10 left in the third, Rojas went on the attack and recorded a takedown. It took him 11 seconds to get Madron’s shoulders onto the mat to record the pin with 59 seconds left in the match to win the NSL title.
Senior Mario Moreno advanced to the NSL championship at 113 pounds with a victory in the semifinals. He was trailing 6-2 in the first period, but quickly got a reversal and pinned his opponent 33 seconds into the second period for the victory.
In the finals, Moreno fell to a takedown 30 seconds into the match. He was eventually pinned with 16 seconds left in the first.
Kaleb Roth took care of his opponent in the first period in the 182 pound semifinals. He recorded a takedown a minute into the match and took 49 seconds to get his opponent into a pin to advance to the finals.
In the finals, Roth fell victim to a takedown with 15 seconds left in the first. He was called for a technical violation and his Kerman opponent recorded an escape. Roth, again, fell victim to a late takedown, this time with four seconds left in the second for a 6-0 deficit.
Roth got an escape 10 seconds into the third period, but was taken down with 1:10 left in the match. He was also called for stalling and lost by decision, 9-1.
Ryan Donovan, at 106 pounds, and Conner Hiatt, at 120 pounds, each won consolation championships (third place). Jarred Dotson (136 pounds) and Brad Miller (160) pounds placed fourth and advanced to the Sierra/Sequoia Division championships.