Tyler Takeda/The Madera Tribune
The Liberty Hawks wrestling team are not only good on the mat, but good in the classroom. Last week, the Hawks were named the Central Section academic champions with a combined 3.58 grade point average. On Saturday, the Hawks captured the Central Section Div. IV championship at Visalia’s Goden West High School.
Earlier last week, the Liberty Hawks wrestling program was informed that it earned the Central Section’s academic championship for wrestling.
The Hawks ended the week in Visalia with the Central Section Div. IV Championship.
“I was confident we would be in the top three and would have to fight to win the championship and that’s exactly what our boys did,” Liberty head coach Jay Pumarejo said. “It was a fun time in our wrestling program.”
The Hawks earned the academic championship with an overall grade point average of 3.58.
“Since I first met the boys, it’s been very evident they are a very intelligent group of men,” Pumarejo said. “It was no surprise to me how well they excelled academically. We are very proud of them.”
On Saturday at Golden West High School, the Hawks easily outpointed Highland-Bakersfield
184-162 to capture the Div. IV championship despite being the smallest school in terms of enrollment by more than 200 students.
“We knew that it would take everyone involved to contribute in order for us to be Central Section champions,” Pumarejo said. “I’m the one that feels honored and privileged to work with such a great group of guys in a special community. It’s pretty special.”
The Hawks, with an enrollment number of 560, battled against schools with more than 2,000 students, including Stockdale-Bakersfield with more than 2,300 students.
“I was told discretely before the finals we won the championship,” Pumarejo said. “I kept it from the boys until they announced it at the end of the tournament.”
Zack Santoro at 134 pounds and Conner Hiatt at 147 pounds each advanced to the championships. Although they lost in the finals, they still earned valuable points for the Hawks.
Santoro earned three pins on his way to the finals, but lost in the championship by a 10-1 major decision to top-seeded Phillip Arroyo from Reedley.
Hiatt advanced to the finals as the top seeded wrestler and pinned his first two opponents without getting out of the first round. He lost to Fowler’s Jonathan Weber by a 4-0 decision.
Diego Rojas (184 pounds), Sam Rauschenberg (197 pounds) and David Portnoff (222 pounds) each won consolation championships by a combined four points.
Rojas won his championship by an 11-10 decision. Rauschenberg won by a 5-4 decision and Portnoff was a 4-2 winner in the consolation championship.
Ryan Avila (128), Jarred Dotson (154) and Anthony Salas (162) each advanced to the consolation championship and placed fourth.
Also earning points for the Hawks were Spencer Gladders (103), Anthony Rocha (115), Eli McIntosh (122), Josh Kerber (140), Mitchell Sano (172) and Brad Wallace (287).
With a team that only loses three seniors — Portnoff, Dotson and Hiatt — expectations are high for the Hawks at this week’s Grand Masters Wrestling Championship at Hoover High School in Fresno.
“A huge thank you to the coaching staff, especially coach Joe Rico who has been there from the beginning, at the high school, middle school and the youth level, the administration and our wrestling families for a great season,” Pumarejo said.