MID-CALS: Five Mustangs, one Cougar advance to tonight’s finals.

Gilroy's Niko Villarreal wrestles in the semifinals during the

GHS in second entering championship rounds. Finals begin at 5
They began the trek on opposite sides of the brackets and there happened to be only one way the two could wrestle against each other.

Their individual paths through the daunting field of fellow grapplers had to somehow meet in the finals.

And wouldn’t you know it – they have.

The championship bracket of the 31st annual Mid-Cal Classic is set and kicking off tonight’s festivities is an all-Gilroy showdown in the 105-pound final between Christopher’s standout freshman Jimmie Lopez and GHS’s Leif Dominguez.

Paul Fox (121), Niko Villarreal (132), Willie Fox (137) and Blake Kastl (142) also advanced, giving the Mustangs five in the finals, which begin at 5 p.m. at Gilroy High School. Doors open at 4:30 p.m.

The No. 1-seeded Dominguez had his way with No. 5 Johnny Alonzo with a 19-0 tech fall, to sign his name to one-half of the finals. His counterpart Lopez, who is 21-0 this season, pinned the tourney’s No. 2-seed Adrian Camposano at 5:09 of the third period.

“He is building on his arsenal” CHS head coach Alexcis Lara said of Lopez’s consistency. “He has improved 10-times since the beginning of the season. He has made the transition from middle school to high school very well.”

No. 3 Paul Fox, a freshman, went head to head with Reno’s Bo Bettinson, a two-time Nevada state champion, and knocked off the senior 2-1. His road to a title gets no easier in the finals where he will meet No. 1-seeded Javier Gasca of Central.

Freshman Niko Villarreal entered the tournament as the No. 1 seed and did his part to uphold that distinction. Villarreal punched his ticket to the finals with a 20-5 tech fall victory. Alisal’s Luis Cessa waits as the challenger for the championship. Villarreal beat Cessa earlier this month in a Mustangs’ triumph over the Trojans in dual meet action.

No. 1-seed Willie Fox secured a second straight trip to the finals. Fox a champ last year, has a Mid-Cal crown in his sights with only Kevan Garcia of Paso Robles the lone obstacle. Willie advanced via tech fall.

Kastl, meanwhile, kept his pin streak in tact, making it 4-for-4 in the tournament with a second-period pin of San Benito’s Mikey Soto. Kastl has perhaps one of the toughest finals matchups of the night in No. 1-seed Joey Lavallee out of Reno. Lavallee, a state champion in 2010, defeated Kastl at this season’s Reno Tournament of Champions.

Heading into the 14 final matches, the team championship is shaping up to be a two-squad race between the Mustangs and Selma.

“It’s our party. I want to be the main attraction,” GHS head coach Greg Varela said. “It’s going to be tough. Selma has a really good team.

Selma, ranked third in the state, has four wrestlers in the finals. Gilroy is currently ranked fifth according to ccsrank.com.

After a semifinals loss, Gilroy’s Aaron Gonzalez dropped down to the consolation bracket where he rebounded with a 7-0 decision and a chance at third place. However, in a rematch of his quarterfinals dual Friday, Gonzalez faced off with the section’s No. 1 127-pounder, Brian Ha. Ha avenged his previous loss, topping Gonzalez 5-2.

Victor Olmos and Felix Gonzalez also saw their tournaments come to a close in the afternoon session. Olmos placed sixth and Felix placed eighth.

“The ones that you lose are the ones that stick in your mind,” Varela said. “I really wanted Aaron to get to the finals. But I’m happy, I’m satisfied.”

Teams scores heading into finals

1. Selma 304.0

2. Gilroy 258.0

3. Alisal 210.0

4. Paso Robles 197.5

5. Madera South 170.0

6. San Benito 168.0

7. Pitman 165.0

8. Central 160.5

9. Los Banos 140.0

10. Buhach Colony 117.0

11. Dos Palos 112.0

12. El Camino 108.0

13. Archbishop Riordan 104.5

14. South San Francisco 101.5

15. Oak Grove 97.0

Check back for results from tonight’s finals.

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