GILROY – The 30th annual Mid-Cal Classic has arrived and 77
schools from across California have descended upon Gilroy High this
weekend for one of the premier events in the state, which begins
today at 9 a.m.
GILROY – The 30th annual Mid-Cal Classic has arrived and 77 schools from across California have descended upon Gilroy High this weekend for one of the premier events in the state, which begins today at 9 a.m.
This year’s field doesn’t lack in quality or quantity as five schools that are currently ranked as top-10 programs in the state will grapple for championships this weekend.
The event will also feature a number of state-placers from a year ago, a list that includes Mustangs’ senior Jesse Delgado – defending state champ at 112-pounds.
The Mustangs are in the midst of one of their best seasons, head coach Greg Varela said – a scary thought for opponents, considering the Mustangs are seven-time defending Central Coast Section champions.
The Mustangs, a deep and experienced squad, currently have six wrestlers ranked in the state top-10 in their respective weight classes, according to thecaliforniawrestler.com.
Led by Delgado (1st at 125-pounds), St. Francis transfer and defending CCS champ in his weight class, Dominic Kastl (4th, 171), as well as a host of other highly touted wrestlers such as Luis Barragan (7th, 285), Vincente Aboytes (5th, 152), Willie Fox (7th, 130) and Kastl’s brother Blake (5th, 135), the Mustangs are out to improve on a second-place showing at last year’s Mid-Cals.
Gilroy finished 13 team points away from first place Selma, which returns this year to defend its title with a No. 3 state ranking in tow.
Even with the tournament’s defending champs in the field, Delgado said that the main goal for the Mustangs isn’t necessarily winning the Mid-Cals, it’s more of a training platform for the state tournament in March.
“It’s just preparation,” Delgado said. “If you win all these tournaments and then lose at state it doesn’t matter. It’s kind of like going undefeated in football and not winning the Super Bowl. Nothing really matters except for state.”
Vacaville, who is ranked No. 9 in the state has two wrestlers that are seeded No. 1 in their weight classes this weekend. St. Francis, Gilroy’s CCS rival, is ranked 10th in the state and finished just three points shy of the Mustangs at last year’s Mid-Cals.
Gilroy last won the tournament in 2008.
The top-tier field should provide for some heart-pounding action. Other perennial powers such as Turlock, Oak Grove and Clovis West are sure to add some excitement to the mat.
“This one isn’t as tough as the other tournaments we have been to, but it’s not going to be a walk-through or anything,” a quietly confident Delgado said Thursday night.
The Mustangs have garnered team-best finishes at three tournaments so far this season, including last weekend’s Five-Counties Invitational where they finished an astounding fourth out of 96 teams.
“I think (Five-Counties) is ranked the sixth or seventh toughest in the nation and we finished fourth,” Varela said. “These guys are working so hard this season.”
Even with all the tough tournament assignments the Mustangs have endured, they have maintained a flawless record in Tri County Athletic League dual meets, keeping alive an eight-year league unbeaten streak, with two matches to go.
The Mustangs defeated Palma on Wednesday night, perhaps their biggest league test of the season before a Feb. 4 showdown with San Benito.
Down four starters, with Aboytes resting an injury for this weekend’s tourney, and Kastl along with Rodney Balajadia out sick, the Mustangs overcame those obstacles in the win.
The tradition of GHS wrestling runs deep in the community, and this weekend’s cavalcade of talent is sure to attract quite a following, and it will surely be standing-room only inside Bog Hagen Memorial Gym.
“When the spotlight is on the mat for a finals match and a Gilroy kid is involved it just gets crazy,” Varela said. “It should be a lot of fun.
Day 2, Saturday, starts at 9 a.m. There will be a short break from 3 to 5 p.m. to allow for set up for the finals. Doors will open again at 4 p.m. for the championship matches, which are scheduled for a 5 p.m. start.
Check back for results from Day 1. A full recap will appear in Tuesday’s print edition of the Dispatch.