Bravo worried for just a moment that the chance might pass him by after he twisted his ankle in the second period of the 152-pound seventh-place match at the Sac-Joaquin Section Masters tournament, held Friday, Feb 22, and Saturday, Feb. 23, at Stockton Arena.
“I heard my ankle pop,” Bravo said. “I had the same injury earlier in the season. It's finally healing up, so when this happened I was thinking the worst.”
West coach Carlos Salazar quickly taped up the ankle, and Bravo was back on the mat.
He then went on to prove that Saturday’s seventh-place matches, where the winners go to state and the losers are done for the season, can be the hardest-fought contests of them all.
His opponent, Adrian Maldonado from Wood High of Vacaville, had a 5-4 lead in the third period, but with 18 seconds left Bravo scored on a reversal to claim the 6-5 decision.
“I always had faith that God would always be there by my side,” said Bravo, overcome by emotion after he was declared the winner. “I just pulled it out from my heart. I dug deep.”
His win put him at 4-2 for the tournament and made him the sixth local wrestler to qualify for this year’s CIF tournament Friday, March 1, and Saturday, March 2, at Rabobank Arena in Bakersfield.
Heading to the state tournament for the second year in a row is Kimball High junior Trent Nicholson. He went 4-1 in the 132-pound bracket, including a first-round pin in the semifinals, but had to settle for second place after losing on a 6-5 decision to Mark Taijeron of Merced.
Nicholson said he was recovering from being sick earlier in the week, so he tried to score pins or rack up big scores early in his matches. But by the third period against Taijeron, it was clear the Merced wrestler had more energy to finish.
“I just knew the kid was good at takedowns, so I just had to stay up and not get taken down,” Nicholson said. “Right when I would take him down, I wasn't ready for how he scrambled.”
Other wrestlers to qualify for state include West senior Amrit Singh (195 pounds), who finished in fourth place after he went 5-2.
Tracy High senior Albert Landeros (120) finished with a 7-1 decision over Brandon Vu of Rodriguez High in the fifth place match. Landeros went 4-2 for the tournament, but hoped to finish higher after he won three matches Friday to make the semifinals.
“Today I accepted the loss in the semis,” he said, “but I should have beat the guy I wrestled right after him.”
Kimball High senior Logan Finley (220 pounds) went 6-2 for the tournament, including four wins in a row in the consolation bracket after a 14-5 major decision loss to eventual champion Jordan Sepeda of Natomas.
Also going to state is Tracy resident and Central Catholic senior Joey Abbate (138 pounds). He went 5-1 for the tournament and finished in third place with a 4-3 decision over Branton Matu of Antelope High.
Kimball coach Pete Mullen that it’s the best outcome yet for the Jaguars’ 4-year-old team. Kimball placed 11th in overall scoring with 65.5 points. Vacaville was section champion with 244 points and qualified 10 wrestlers for state, including four gold medalists.
• Contact Bob Brownne at 830-4227 or email@example.com.