Area wrestlers open season at Chukchansi Invitational
Courtesy of Christopher Cross
Madera South’s Andrew Moreno works for near-fall points in his 106-pound match. He placed third in Saturday’s Chukchansi Invitational at Madera South.
The Madera South Stallions wrestling team concluded three days of hosting wrestling with the 11th annual Chukchansi Invitational over the weekend and came away with a top 20 finish.
The Stallions also hosted a girls wrestling tournament Thursday and a junior varsity tournament Wednesday in conjunction with the two-day Chukchansi, which is one of the best early-season tournaments in California.
Madera South High School drew more than 40 teams to the two-day tournament and Los Gatos came away with the overall victory, just 13 points ahead of Central-Fresno.
The host team had three wrestlers place in the tournament — a third from Andrew Moreno (106 pounds), a eighth from Rafael Santiago (113) and an eighth from Edgar Hernandez (126).
“They did really good,” said first-year head coach Al Lopez. “They competed well and fought hard. Most of our team are freshmen and sophomores so they are young. We are growing. Our focus for the young ones is growth. If we can focus on that, winning will take care of itself. I want to grow and get better.”
The Stallions also had three other wrestlers win two of their four matches.
“We have goals. We don’t have expectations, we have goals and we are working towards those goals all the time,” Lopez said.
The Madera Coyotes’ wrestling team had the highest finish oout of the four Madera-area school with an eighth place finish.
“We were hoping for a top 10 finish,” Madera head coach Joe Romine said. “Getting top eight says a lot. We had seven kids place.”
Solomon Reyes at 113 pounds, Nathan Galicia at 132 pounds and Alex Linares at 195 pounds each placed third in the tournament.
“The kids are coming in a year older and you can tell with their work ethic and mindset. It’s a big improvement,” Romine said.
Madera’s Cameron Silber beat teammate Luke Ervin in the seventh place match to give the Coyotes two more placers at 120 pounds. Julio Garcia placed sixth at 152 pounds and 220-pounder Vincente Rodriguez won his fifth place match.
“It’s nice to not go too far to have the competition we face here,” Romine said. “Some kids are facing some top ranked guys, already. They are learning quite a bit.”
The Matilda Torres Toros wrestling team placed 17th and was just 2.5 points behind Madera South.
“This was a good tournament for us,” head coach Sean Carlson said. “We had two guys place, which is double what we have last year. We want to continue to get better. We finished last year on a high note so we want to continue that this year.”
Leading the Stallions was Abraham Galvan with a fourth place finish at 120 pounds. Aiden Salas won his fifth place match at 106 pounds.
“We want to keep getting better and better as the season moves on,” Carlson said.
New Liberty wrestling coach Chad Hogue got his first taste of Hawks’ wrestling with the Chukchansi Invitational and placed 19th, 4.5 points behind Torres.
“The tournament went really good for us with me and our new coaching staff,” Hogue said. “It’s a good starting point for us to understand what our kids need and what to work on. We have a great staff that has a buy-in to the kids. We have a lot of new kids, a lot of football players that haven’t played in years.”
Two former football players wrestling for the first time since middle school were the top placers for the Hawks. Caleb Sisco, at 220 pounds, and Davey Pombo, at heavyweight, each placed eighth.
“The success early is great for those kids that are coming back,” Hogue said. “You see a short-term gain with a long-term goal. It’s going to be a great season.”
Liberty will host the Big Liberty Duals on Saturday with Madera also coming in. Meanwhile, the Stallions’ wrestling team will get the week off from competition while the Toros will head to Fremont High School for the Webber Lawson Tournament, also on Saturday.