SAN JOSE — Christopher’s Jimmie Lopez is the definition of a class act.
As his opponent, Gilroy’s Gavin Melendez, turned to let the referee declare Lopez the winner of their match, he stopped him. In a moving display of sportsmanship and respect, the Cougar hoisted the Melendez’s arm too.
The sophomore was bested 6-1 by Lopez, who defended his Central Coast Section title Saturday at Independence High School in San Jose. Both will make the trip to Bakersfield next weekend for the California Interscholastic Federation state tournament.
“He’s a good guy and he’s a good person and he’s not cocky like the rest of guys that win this,” Melendez said. “It’s good to go to state as a sophomore. I’m just going to capitalize on the moment.”
Lopez controlled the 106 lb. match from start to finish, keeping Melendez close and only giving up a point on an illegal hold. The senior now shifts his focus to the state meet, looking for his first CIF title.
“I’m going to give to do the same thing and just give it my all,” Lopez said. “State is a pretty tough match, but I’m told the important match is the first one.”
Melendez was one of eight Gilroy wrestlers in the finals, which helped the Mustangs to their 12th straight CCS team title and breaking the previous point record — set by Gilroy in 2006 — by two and half points in the process. Gilroy won by a landslide with 277 points, 163 better than Fremont who finished second (114).
“Everybody did their part — everybody won,” senior Victor Olmos said. “It wasn’t just the guys in the finals that got the record, all the guys did their part to win. Our heavyweight (Santino Orozco) has been wrestling only three months (and) gets a win at CCS — he’s part of that.”
Olmos (132) cruised to his third CCS title with a 7-2 decision over Ian Cramer of Gunn. He was working hard to get the tilt in second period, but Cramer was able to wiggle out for the escape. Olmos came close again in the final frame, but settled for nearfall points.
Olmos will return to state, but said the CCS tournament shed some light on what to change next weekend.
“My strategy is to not be so defensive and be more offensive — get my shot off first,” he said. “(I need) to get out from bottom, I’ve been working hard on that. I believe I can do it and I’ve just got to wrestle my best.”
Gilroy’s Nikko Villarreal (145) and Paul Fox (152) both remain undefeated and clinched their fourth CCS crowns.
Villarreal faced Jacob Thalin of Santa Teresa who, as so many before him, was unable to takedown the Mustang in the match. The Gilroy senior looked like a lion playing with his prey as all of his opponent’s points came from escapes. In the end, Villarreal won by major decision, 14-6, and held up four fingers to symbolize his accomplishment.
“It feels awesome that I got my fourth title,” he said. “I’m more happy about my team. We broke the CCS record and just that alone, I could have lost tonight and I’d still be happy.”
He will now look to defend his two state championships and doesn’t intend to leave a doubt in anyone’s mind that he earned them while en route to his third.
“I’m not going to let anyone score on me — I’m just going to bring it,” Villarreal said. “I’ve got to keep moving, get my takedowns and hopefully just open up a little bit — get the score a little higher. I don’t want to keep any matches close, even in the state finals. I want at least a six-point lead.”
Fox had to get past Christopher’s Alex Garcia on the way to his fourth title. The majority of the bout was fought on the ground as the Mustang took down his opponent and played the rider until time expired. Garcia was able to get an escape, but it was all he was able to muster as Fox won 7-1.
Twins Matt (170) and Mark Penyacsek (182) also took home CCS titles, but in very different ways. Matt got takedown after takedown on Christian Munabito of Saratoga and almost got the pin to close the match. He had to settle for the nearfall to win by major decision, 13-4.
Mark, on the other hand, notched a takedown in the first and had to hold on over Stephen Martin of Gunn. The early points proved critical in the evenly matched bout that the Mustang won 2-0.
Brandon Lefore (160) of Sobrato was the only other South County wrestler to reach the finals. He faced Bryan Battisto of Gunn in another closely fought match. There was a lot of stand-up combat in the first before Battisto’s late takedown. Lefore found himself in control in the second, getting the cradle before his opponent broke free. The Gunn wrestler would get one more takedown to beat Lefore 4-0.
“It’s not the match I want, obviously, but it’s a great gateway to state,” Lefore said. “It’ll keep me motivated, keep me hungry for sure. I want to go into state and place and exceed my expectations for myself.”
Adam Mito and Austin Langford of Live Oak will also make the trip to state after wrestling back to take third.
San Benito’s Eric Loredo was the lone Baler in the top five, finishing fifth at 113 lb., but missing state.
The Mustangs will send eight wrestlers to state, the youngest of which is Melendez. He’s looking forward to his first trip to the big show and will take what he’s learned at CCS into Bakersfield:
“Just have a good mindset — be tough when you’re weak and know when to push it.”
106 — Jimmie Lopez, 1st
113 — Felipe Duenas, 4th
126 — Raul Meza, 5th
152 — Alex Garcia, 2nd
106 — Gavin Melendez, 2nd
126 — Jesse Vasquez, 2nd
132 — Victor Olmos, 1st
138 — Lupe Jimenez, 2nd
145 — Nikko Villarreal, 1st
152 — Paul Fox, 1st
160 — Javin Aragon, 4th
170 — Matt Penyacsek, 1st
182 — Mark Penyacsek, 1st
195 — Noe Garcia, 4th
220 — Mark Garcia, 4th
138 — Austin Langford, 3rd
145 — Adam Mito, 3rd
113 — Eric Loredo, 5th
160 — Brandon Lefore, 2nd