Tyler Takeda/The Madera Tribune
Madera South’s Damion Sheriff works to put his 115-pound opponent into a pinning situation at Saturday’s Chukchansi Invitational at Madera South. Sheriff earned a seventh place finish at one of the premier wrestling tournaments in the state.
For years, the annual Chukchansi Invitational, hosted by Madera South, has been one of the premier early-season tournaments in California and the weekend's wasn’t any different.
With almost 50 teams converging to Madera South for the two-day, individual tournament, the Chukchansi lived up to its reputation.
The Madera, Madera South and Liberty wrestling teams were proud to have a couple of individuals earn medals (top 8) in preparation for the upcoming season.
“We brought only 10 to compete,” Madera coach Joe Romine said. “Grades and injuries hurt us. Six made it to the second day, which is pretty nice. We lost one that we are still mad about. We saw a lot of improvement from the first tournament.”
Liberty wrestling coach Jay Pumarejo only brought a few wrestlers to the Chukchansi, but also had two place and advance to the semifinals.
“We had two guys make the semis,” he said. “We had three guys make the second day. All of them left with a lot of confidence. It just reassured that all they work they have been putting in has been paying off.”
Meanwhile, Madera South wrestling coach Ryan Philp is happy the exhausting week is over, not only for him, but also for his team.
“Overall, I’m very happy for the kids,” he said. “It’s one of the premier early season tournaments. We came out of Friday in fifth place. This is a long week after setting up and being here all night. These kids have been working hard the past few days. We had a lot of kids make it to the second day. We had three medalists and another four or five in the top 12. We have a lot of youngsters win more than one match. I’m happy for the team effort we got this weekend.”
Madera South earned a 10th place finish at the tournament and had three medalists. Angel Reyes earned a fourth place medal at 172 pounds, Damion Sheriff placed seventh at 115 pounds and Abel Cardenas placed eighth at 154 pounds.
“This builds the muscle endurance for two long days,” Philp said. “You have to wake early to weigh in, do weight control while having guys try to rip your arms out. It is one the most enduring things we are in. The next two tournaments are one-day tournaments and that will allow our bodies to heal up a little bit. This is perfect for the beginning of the season. We’re building our bodies for the State and Valley championships.”
Nathan Galicia won his fifth place match for the Coyotes at 108 pounds. Alex Carillo was a 7-6 winner at 197 pounds in the seventh place match.
“Overall, I was pleased with the effort,” Romine said. “It’s good to get an individual tournament in. I tell the kids when they are in dual meets, you have to think team. These things, you can be selfish all you want. It’s kind of nice that the kids can focus on them and not worry about the team score. You always preach team first, which is hard at an individual sport. Being here, the family gets to come out and support them. They get to sleep in their own bed. I’m glad Madera South puts this on. They do a good job.”
Sam Rauschenburg placed sixth at 197 pounds and Diego Rojas earned a sixth place finish at 184 pounds for the Hawks.
“It’s satisfying and I’m excited to see the kids continue to improve,” Pumarejo said. “Next week we will be at full strength and it’s nice to see the young guys will be contributing to something special.”
Next, all three Madera teams will head east to the Mad Ranch Duals on Saturday at Liberty High School.