Gilroy sets tone for season with win over Hollister

Go mustangs!

The Gilroy High wrestling program is the gold standard in the Central Coast Section, having won 14 consecutive championships. The Mustangs are virtually unbeatable in section, with quality wrestlers in just about every weight class. Such is the dominance of Gilroy that it could beat a solid San Benito squad 54-12 on Dec. 14 in the Monterey Bay League Gabilan Division opener for both teams.
“Watching the match, it was a lot more competitive than the score indicated,” Gilroy coach Greg Varela said. “Hollister is game, and it’s never business as usual when you face them. They’re a team if you don’t respect, they’ll clean your clock. We came ready—it was a work day for us.”
The Mustangs, who are ranked 28th in the nation—its highest position ever—won all 10 contested matches (they forfeited matches in the 106 and 113-pound divisions while San Benito forfeited a match at 120). Gilroy set the tone early by winning the first four matches, all via pinfall.
John Fox (152), Nate Villarreal (160), Dallas Gutierrez (170) and Joe Barnes (182) staked the Mustangs to a 24-0 lead before the contest was 30 minutes old. The next two matches were hotly contested, as Ryan Encincio edged Alberto Rodriguez 5-4 at 195, and Tony Andrade beat Michael Camacho 5-3 in overtime.
Both teams had wrestlers competing up in weight classes since it’s early in the season, and they wrestlers tend to lose weight as the year goes on. Encincio and Rodriguez were involved in a battle before Encincio gained some separation with a one-point escape and two-point takedown in the opening minute of the third period.
The Andrade-Camacho match was certainly the marquee headliner of the night. Andrade is currently ranked No. 1 in the CCS at 195, and Camacho is No. 1 at 184. The match was as good as advertised, with Camacho scoring a point on an escape at the horn to make it 3-3 and force sudden-death overtime.
In the first 35 seconds of the sudden-death period, Andrade scored a takedown moments after he deftly avoided a shot from Camacho. One of the key points of the match came when Camacho was called for a one-point stalling penalty that gave Andrade a 3-2 lead early in the third.
“I thought besides that poor stalling call, we would’ve had that match,” Balers coach Steven Salcedo said. “That call dictated a little bit how the match ended. I think Michael wins that match if we don’t get that stalling call, but that is the way it goes sometimes.”
Mark Garcia beat Miguel Puga 9-2 in the heavyweight match, and Joe Delgado recorded a pin at 126. The final three contested matches went the distance, with Jeff Oshiro beating Michael Guzman 7-0 at 132, Chase Saldate beating Vincent Jacinto 5-2 at 138 and Daniel Vizcara edging Ishmael Medina 2-0 at 145.
Varela said he was pleased with several of his wrestlers, especially Delgado, who showed significant improvement. Delgado pulled off an advanced step and stack maneuver that highlighted the sound mechanics of the Gilroy wrestlers.
“I’m happy with Delgado because he has trouble on the top position, and today he turned a guy on top and in another instance hit a fireman and pinned him from that position,” Varela said. “Two positions we’ve been working on him to improve in his wrestling, and he did both of those things today.”
Gilroy is taking on all comers across the country—literally—to fortify itself for a state title run in March. The Mustangs had a dual with national powerhouse Buchanan of Clovis on Dec. 16, then competed in Buchanan’s tournament a day later. In a couple of weeks, Gilroy will travel to Illinois to take on another national power, Oak Park and River Forest High.
The Mustangs have already dueled perennial power Poway, dropping a 46-16 decision despite forfeiting four matches.
“I’m happy with what we’ve done so far this season,” Varela said. “We’re headed in the right direction. I wanted to see them compete, and they’ve risen to the challenge so far. I’m satisfied, but there is still room to grow.”
Varela directed some high praise for this year’s team, highlighting its overall excellence on and off the mat.
“As far as comparing to other teams, I think we’re right there with all of the best teams we’ve ever had,” Varela said. “What we lack in experience we make up for in heart. These guys are working hard. I’m really happy with the (on mat) success, but more so on how they’re coming together as a team right now. It’s showing on the mat, showing in the wrestling room, showing in the travel, showing in the study hall. Comparing to the best teams we’ve had in the past—we’re right there.”
Even though Salcedo wasn’t happy with the loss, he was satisfied with his team’s effort.
“I think we could’ve done a little better, but I’m proud of the way the guys competed,” he said. “Some of our kids gave Gilroy everything they had. We’re getting a little closer as far as competitions—the last few years has not been as competitive. We’re obviously not quite ready to beat Gilroy, but we’re definitely on the right track and path to that.”
Salcedo liked what he saw from a couple of wrestlers, including junior Bryce Mattson, who was pinned with 1 minute, 6 seconds left in the third period in the 160-pound division. However, the match was a back-and-forth thriller, with the score 4-4 before Mattson got caught after he had rolled Villarreal on his back.
But Villarreal cleverly got Mattson on his back before recording the pin.
“I think even in the loss Bryce opened up some eyes,” Salcedo said. “He did some good things, and I’m looking forward to see how he develops with every match.”
Salcedo said as the season progresses he wants to see his wrestlers stay disciplined, aggressive and try to dictate the match instead of the other way around. Against Gilroy, of course, that’s easier said than done.
“We’ve got a lot of things to fix,” he said. “This loss might hurt our egos a bit, but that’s a good thing. You always get better when you wrestle a team like Gilroy.”

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