GILROY – The two-day wrestling marathon that is the Mid-Cal
Classic hosted by Gilroy High came and went in a fury of takedowns
GILROY – The two-day wrestling marathon that is the Mid-Cal Classic hosted by Gilroy High came and went in a fury of takedowns and falls.
A field of 561 wrestlers representing 67 schools from across California dwindled to just 28 individuals who were able to survive the grueling double-elimination event and earn spots in the finals.
Of the 28, only 14 could call themselves champions at the conclusion of the 30th annual tournament on Saturday.
With brackets packed with state-placers, tournament winners and current state-ranked wrestlers, the action that began Friday at 9 a.m. and wrapped up at 8 p.m. Saturday, served as a reminder that prep wrestling has a dedicated and loyal following – one that’s thirsty for competition.
From the spotlight shining down on the wrestlers as they were announced, to the standing-room-only crowd, to the gladiator-like meeting at the center of the circle as all were eyes on them – the spectacle leaves a lasting impression.
The hometown crowd, clearly the most audible bunch in the gym, was treated to a champion performance by the GHS wrestling team.
The Mustangs matched their finish from a year ago with a solid second-place showing, putting five grapplers into the finals as well as two others who finished in the top 12 in their respective weight classes.
Four Mustangs out-dueled their opponents and had their arm lifted in the air, victorious under the giant spotlight, isolated from the action that was taking place from the dimly lit gym.
Senior Jesse Delgado clinched his fourth Mid-Cal title with a 12-4 decision over Curtis Hulstine of Ceres in the 127-pound finals.
The defending state champion methodically broke down Hulstine, constantly recording two-point takedowns and never letting the tournament’s No. 3 seed gain any sort of momentum.
Delgado, who has spent time as the state’s No. 1-ranked wrestler at 125 pounds this season, is currently slated at No. 2 in that category, said that the weekend’s tournament was yet another building block to the ultimate prize at the end of the season – another state title.
“I’ve been having some really close matches this year,” Delgado said. “I think I have lost three one-point matches, so lately I’ve been attacking more. That’s how I used to wrestle but over the years I guess I have kind of slowed down. I usually step it up for state.”
Delgado advanced to the finals with technical fall wins (24-5 and 17-2) in the quarterfinals and semifinals, respectively.
“He could’ve dominated that guy a little bit more, but we’re trying to work on his weaknesses right now,” head coach Greg Varela said. “We made him work on the things he needs to get better at before state.”
Willie Fox improved upon his second-place finish at last year’s tourney with a 7-0 victory in the 132-pound finals, beating Anthonie Linares of Oak Grove.
“I had to exorcise some demons with Will,” Varela said, telling a story of how a miscommunication between he and Fox led to a last-second defeat in last year’s finals. “It’s been haunting me for a year. So I am so glad he got a chance to come back and win it.”
Wrestling his first tournament of the season, Blake Kastl wore down his opponent Andrew Perez of Pitman in the 137-pound match, earning a 7-4 decision.
Kastl, missed the first portion of the season after undergoing knee surgery.
“I’ve been out of shape and still trying to get back in it,” Kastl said. “I knew I had the better defense and I knew I was going to beat that kid. It was a warm-up tournament for me.”
Senior Dominic Kastl, Blake’s older brother, secured the lone pin for the Mustangs in the finals, putting Dan Heka’s shoulders to the mat at 4:27 in the third period of the 162-pound match.
“They are defensive wrestlers,” Varela said of the brothers. “Their style is so dominant that their defense turns to offense. They are horses.”
Once a rival of the Mustangs as part of the St. Francis wrestling team, Kastl, a three-time CCS champion, has found comfort in his new home and appreciated the support from the hometown fans.
“I liked it a lot better,” Dominic said of his first Mid-Cal as a Mustang. “It was fun.”
Dominic had already built a commanding 12-2 advantage before earning the fall.
“I try to break a guy mentally,” Dominic said. “He gets tired, makes mistakes and I capitalize.”
Heavyweight Luis Barragan also fought in the finals and took the state’s No. 1-ranked wrestler at 285-pounds to the brink. Barragan and Orry Elor were tied with 10 seconds remaining in the third period. Elor was awarded two points for a takedown and won 3-1.
“He wrestled that guy great,” Varela said. “We were hard on him this week. Going into the finals we told him to get ready for a war. He was going for it and we were really happy with his performance.”
With the home stretch of the season approaching – one more tournament and a league dual meet against San Benito, followed by the TCAL tournament Feb. 6, Varela thinks the Mustangs are ready for a big push into the most crucial period of the season.
“We are coming together at the right time,” Varela said. “A lot of teams peak too early, but I think they are ready. They are pulling together and pulling for each other.”
105: Paul Rodriguez (Oak Grove) dec. Garrett Fortado (Turlock), 2-1
114: Brandon Egleston (Turlock) dec. Johnnie Nguyen (And. Hill), 2-1
121: Fabian Garcia (Turlock) major dec. Jr Davila (San Benito), 14-4
127: Jesse Delgado (Gilroy) major dec. Curtis Hulstine (Ceres), 12-4
132: Willie Fox (Gilroy) dec. Anthonie Linares (Oak Grove), 7-0
137: Blake Kastl (Gilroy) dec. Andrew Perez (Pitman), 7-4
142: Nathan Zarate (Selma) fall Jonathon Gomez (Madera South), 2:42
147: Victor Pereira (Newark Memorial) major dec. Greg Hartman (Los Banos), 17-6
154: Tyler Johnson (Vacaville) dec. Cody Rodebaugh (San Lorenzo Valley), 12-8
162: Dominic Kastl (Gilroy) fall. Dan Heka (Castro Valley), 4:27
173: Justin Lozano (Selma) major dec. Tyler Edwards (Monterey), 11-2
191: Adam Delagarza (Vacaville) dec. Rodolfo Juarez (Central), 11-4
217: Ben Holmes (Vacaville) dec. Nick Corona (Kingsburg), 5-3
287: Orry Elor (College Park) dec. Luis Barragan (Gilroy), 3-1
Top-10 team finishers
1. Vacaville – 336.5
2. Gilroy – 249
3. Madera South – 188.5
4. Selma – 187
5. Pitman – 179
6. Oak grove – 169.5
7. Kingsburg – 164.5
8. Turlock – 160
9. Cupertino – 155
10.Overfelt – 154.5