MID-CALS: The 31st annual event has arrived

Go mustangs!

Mustangs seeking first Mid-Cal title since 2008.
Like a tornado touching down, the annual two-day Mid-Cal Classic is once again roaring through town.

The survivors claim bragging rights and the distinguished title as Mid-Cal champ. All others are swept away.

Competition at the 31st annual gala kicks off today, culminating with the always-entertaining final 14 matches under the spotlight Saturday night inside Bob Hagen Memorial Gymnasium at Gilroy High School.

This year, 71 teams in all, from around California – and one from Reno – are entered into the wrestling marathon, including the No. 3-ranked team in the state, Selma, and the No. 5-ranked GHS Mustangs.

Gilroy has finished runner-up (behind Vacaville in 2010 and Selma) in the previous two Mid-Cals, those coming after three straight tournament championships.

Though most tournaments are used as tune-ups and gauges for the Central Coast Section and state championship meets, there is always a sense of team pride whenever the Mid-Cals roll around.

And despite just six of the Mustangs’ 14-person rotation having previous experience at the hometown tourney, the expectations still remain the same.

And there’s nothing wrong with that.

“I told them on Monday that it was Day 1 of our season,” GHS head coach Greg Varela said. “We have our own tournament, the one at Overfelt and then the postseason. We have six weeks to do it.”

Loaded with young talent up and down its roster – along with wrestlers coming into their own late in their prep careers, the Mustangs will take the mats this weekend with five wrestlers slotted in the state’s top-10 in their respective weight classes – (103) Leif Dominguez, ninth, (112) Paul Fox, 10th, (130) Niko Villarreal, fourth, (135) Willie Fox, second and (140) Blake Kastl, fourth.

Though that number isn’t a record or that out of the ordinary, what is perhaps a bit extraordinary is how quietly the Mustangs are mounting another successful run toward the section championships. And despite being eight-time defenders, they are flying under the radar – believe it or not.

“I think we are definitely flying under the radar. No one has really seen us at full power,” Varela said. “They are going to see us this weekend though.”

The Mustangs’ tournament resume is at it’s norm – eighth at the Reno Tournament of Champions, fifth at the Doc Buchanan, first at the Apple Cider and fifth at the Chukchansi Invite.

“It’s been half the group here, half the group there. We are going to these tough tournaments, taking four or five kids, and placing in the top 10,” Varela said. “Everyone thinks, ‘Oh, yeah, they have those five guys.’ What they don’t know is that we have a whole ‘nother group. And it’s those guys that are going to turn some heads. I don’t think people think we are as tough as we really are.”

But this weekend marks the first tournament the Mustangs will enter the entire A-list team.

“We are going to put our entire lineup on the table. There is no hiding. And it will be a good indicator of where we are at, especially in our section,” Varela said.

Freshman Villarreal (130 pounds), one of five freshman making headway this season, has already demanded peoples’ attention, placing first at the Doc B. third at Reno and second at the Chukchansi.

“We have to be on top of our game,” Villarreal said. “We are getting to the peak of our season and we need to keep working out even harder.”

Fellow freshmen Victor Olmos (first at Apple Cider and Bert Mar Invite), Paul Fox (seventh at Doc. B, third at Chukchansi) and Daniel Barboza (first at Apple Cider and Bert Mar Invite) are three guys Varela said to keep an eye on this weekend as well as the remainder of the season.

“I know they are good, but I’m excited to see how good these freshman can really be,” Varela said. “This will be a good test for them.”

Fox and Kastl (140) have repeats in sights, out to defend their 2010 Mid-Cal titles.

Though only juniors, Fox and Kastl are the veteran leaders, carrying with them big-stage experience.

“They have kind of been knocking on the door the last couple of years, but now I think they have arrived,” Varela said.

SCHEDULE

Day 1: First session

-Today, 9 a.m.

Championship rounds 1-4,Consolation rounds 1-4.

Day 2: Second session

-Saturday, 9 a.m.

Consolation rounds 5-8

Championship round 5 semifinals

Third session: 3 p.m.

-Finals: 5th/6th and 3rd/4th

Championship finals: 5 p.m.

SEEDING

105

1 Emilio Saavedra Pitman

2. Leif Dominguez Gilroy

3. Adrian Camposano Central

4. Jimmie Lopez Christopher

5. Ramon Zaccarias Aptos

6. Johnny Alonzo Alisal

7. Hunter Rehbien Palma

8. Johnny Pena Selma

114

1. Oscar Pineda John O’Connell

2. Lupe Florez Selma

3. Brandon Carlos Central

4. Johnny Salazar Buhach Colony

5. Martin Martinez Palma

6. Kenny Salcedo San Benito

7. Robbie Standley Paso Robles

8. Alfredo Salas Gonzales

121

1. Javier Gasca Central

2. Bo Bettinson Reno

3. Paul Fox Gilroy

4. Kaelob Obien Independence

5. Travis Roberts Junipero Serra

6. Kevin Convissar Homestead

7. Rico Lozano Buchanan

8. Adolfo Cancino Dinuba

127

1. Alex Cisneros Selma

2. John Claitor Half Moon Bay

3. Brian Ha El Camino

4. Enrique Barajas Arroyo

5. Tanner Heath Aptos

6. Derrick Avila Pitman

7. Andre LaRosa Junipero Serra

8. Alexis Arciga Overfelt

132

1. Niko Villarreal Gilroy

2. Francisco Tejeda Buhach Colony

3. Zac Contreras Archbishop Riordan

4. Tyler Klinkhammer Pitman

5. Josue Hernandez Madera South

6. Racelis Cardenas Buchanan

7. Aron Garcia Willows

8. Luis Cessa Alisal

137

1. Willie Fox Gilroy

2. Andrew Perez Pitman

3. Mason Esqueda Central

4. DJ Quiroz Dos Palos

5. Zack Rodriguez San Benito

6. Daniel Garcia Willows

7. Arturo Morado Alisal

8. Cesar Moreno North Monterey County

142

1. Joey Lavallee Reno

2. Blake Kastl Gilroy

3. Mikey Soto San Benito

4. Jorge Munoz Los Banos

5. Oscar Mendez Alisal

6. Monte Renteria Dinuba

7. Robert Caldwell Palma

8. Nick Crawley Sobrato

147

1. Anthonie Linares Oak Grove

2. Jonathan Gomez Madera South

3. John England Pitman

4. Rico Aguilar Selma

5. Jovan Villalobos Alisal

6. Wiffler Jake Rio Linda

7. Antoine Lopes Edison

8. Jack Rader Wilcox

154

1. Isiah Morfin Selma

2. Stefan Weidemann Gunn

3. Johnathan Gonzalas Santa Teresa

4. Marcel Vega Pitman

5. Ray Jimenez James Lick

6. Colton Madrigal Paso Robles

7. Koji Kameda Menlo Atherton

8. Joe Else Aptos

162

1. Nathan Zarate Selma

2. Matt Negrete Buchanan

3. Christopher McCallaCreay Harker Academy

4. Kalen Gans Palo Alto

5. Adam Busch Castro Valley

6. Brandon Penn Paso Robles

7. Paul Ahern Archbishop Riordan

8. Payam Amiri Andrew Hill

173

1. Justin Lozano Selma

2. Calvin Nicholls South San Francisco

3. Travis Mocker Castro Valley

4. Jared Stine Willows

5. Cesar Delgado Paso Robles

6. Mario Aguirre Pitman

7. Roberto Gonzalez Overfelt

8. jacob newman Monterey

193

1. Logan Kellogg San Lorenzo Valley

2. Josh Castillo Watsonville

3. William Zeledon Dos Palos

4. Lugar Jordan Rio Linda

5. Matt Teeples Pitman

6. Jimmy Pacheco Paso Robles

7. Frank Ramirez Aptos

8. Kent Lau George Washington

217

1. Scottl Brasil Mount Pleasant

2. Kyle Martinez Pitman

3. Aaron Silva San Benito

4. joel newman Monterey

5. Cristian Arriaga Fremont

6. Luis Varela Dos Palos

7. Ben Landauer San Lorenzo Valley

8. Gerald Omictin North Salinas

287

1. Andres Quintero Los Banos

2. Trevor Kelly El Camino

3. logan Enos Dos Palos

4. Richard Hammer Edison

5. Dominick Jackson Homestead

6. Brandon Pulealii Palma

7. Gustavo Ramirez Sobrato

8. Stevie White Christopher

Check back for updates throughout the tournament.

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