For some members of the Gilroy High wrestling team, this weekend’s 28th annual Doc Buchanan Invitational – one of the toughest tournaments in all of California – served as proving grounds.
Hunter Collins wanted to prove he was no average freshman. Nicolo Naranjo wanted to prove he belonged back in the state rankings. And Andres Barragan just wanted to proved he belonged, period.
Even the team as a whole wanted to prove in Clovis that it belonged among the Golden State’s elite.
Well, consider it done … on all four accounts.
With five of Gilroy’s 12 wrestlers placing, the Mustangs finished with 105 points and finished seventh out of 48 schools. Mighty Bakersfield won the overall title on 218 points.
“They absolutely turned in a great performance,” GHS head coach Armando Gonzalez of his back-to-back CCS champs. “This was again one of the best tournaments around and they finished seventh – and the schools ahead of us are all ahead of us in the state rankings.”
At 103 pounds, Naranjo regained his form after dropping from the state’s No. 1 to the honorable mention list. The sophomore made it all the way to the finals, before losing in overtime to Ponderosa’s Justin Durham.
“He wrestled phenomenal,” Gonzalez said. “He showed again why he should be ranked right there with the best of ’em.”
Collins, meanwhile, battled out of the consolation round and ended up finishing fourth in a stacked 160-pound weight class.
“He was a beast,” Gonzalez said of his 14-year-old former schoolboy national champ. “He’s not a flash-in-the-pan and he’s not a fluke. He’s been solid week in and week out.”
Then there was Andres Barragan, the 189-pound sophomore making the first varsity tournament appearance of his young high school career.
All he did was finish fourth and wrestle “the tournament of his life,” Gonzalez said.
“If he wrestles like that,” the sixth-year coach added, “he’ll be CCS champ this year – hands down.”
The Mustangs’ other two placers were Adin Dueñas (130) and Armando Gonzalez (135).
Dueñas made it to the second day undefeated, but ran into the nation’s No. 2 wrestler, Billy Hunter of Hughson, in the semifinals. The junior ended up finishing fourth.
The fourth-seeded Gonzalez, on the other hand, dropped a match on Friday, but recovered to win four in a row and finish in third place. Two of those wins were against top-seeded Dustin Rocha of Lemoore and No. 3 seed Jonathan Ronny of James Logan, both state placers from last year.
It wasn’t just the Gilroy placers who impressed, though. Austin Gubrud and Rudy Maldonaldo both turned in solid performances, making it to Day Two and contributing to the Mustangs’ impressive point total.
“Scoring that many points at a tournament of this caliber definitely bodes well,” Gonzalez said. “Scoring 110 at this is definitely (equivalent to being) in the 200’s in the CCS, which is what it takes to win there.”
Waiting in the wings
Again proving the Gilroy program’s depth, the Mustangs junior varsity squad took first place at this weekend’s Cupertino Second Man Tournament.
With 201 points at the 24-team tourney, GHS had more than enough to hold off second-place Hollister (190 pts).
All 10 of Gilroy’s wrestlers placed, led by first-place finishers Travis Sakamoto (119), Chris Krough (125), Ethan Ogle (130), Ismael Gutierrez (140) and Adam Fortino (171).
Miles Amadeo (145) was a runner-up, while Jeremy Sabla (215) placed third and Justin Blankenship (135), Vanessa Gutierrez (189) and heavyweight Chaz Guerrero all finished fifth.
“I was happy with everyone’s performance,” JV coach Marty Serrano said. “We sent up nine guys and one girl and everybody did exceptionally well.”