For Kimball High senior Trent Nicholson, the first day of the Sac-Joaquin Section Masters wrestling tournament provided the only bump on his road back to the California Interscholastic Federation state tournament.
Nicholson, wrestling in the 152-pound class, secured his place at the state championships for the third consecutive year with his third-place finish at the Sac-Joaquin Section Masters tournament Saturday at Stockton Arena.
His was the top finish among seven wrestlers from Tracy schools, including two more state qualifiers. West freshman Greg Viloria (106) is headed to the state tournament in his first year as a high school wrestler after placing fourth Saturday, and Kimball junior Reese Chew finished in seventh place in the 138-pound bracket.
Nicholson said after his final matches that he had to work through the frustration of losing his second-round match to Romeo Ontiveros of Merced. Ontiveros went on to win the gold medal, but the outcome of that second-round match meant that third-place was the best Nicholson could achieve.
Nicholson then won six matches in a row, three of them with first-period pins, including a pin in 55 seconds against Tristan Smith of Bear Creek High in the third-place match.
“I wanted to be in the finals, but it’s all right,” Nicholson said, adding that if he couldn’t contend for first place, at least he wanted to secure a high seed for the state tournament.
“Placing, it doesn’t really matter compared to that,” he said. “Next week I’ll come back strong.”
Viloria opened his tournament run with a 9-1 win by decision and then lost a 5-0 decision. He came back with two wins by pin and got his ticket to the state tournament after he beat Josh Ploke of Oak Ridge High on a 13-2 major decision.
He gave credit to his West High coaches and teammates for preparing him.
“They all pushed me to make weight, so I was prepared for that match,” he said after beating Ploke. “It’s what I've been training for my whole life and I’ve finally achieved it.”
His final matches turned out to be as tough as he expected. Viloria beat Adam Velasquez of Modesto in the consolation semifinals on a 2-1 decision. Each had scored on an escape, and they were tied 1-1 at the end of three periods. Viloria needed only to score on another escape, but it wasn’t until the fourth overtime that he was able to pull free of Velasquez.
Viloria’s third/fourth-place match against Isaac Blackburn of Del Oro High also saw both wrestlers looking for an advantage through most of the match. Blackburn scored on an escape in the second period and used the top starting position to his advantage to pin Viloria with 21 seconds left in the third period.
“There have been a lot of surprises, a lot of upsets. It was tough for everyone,” Viloria said afterward. “Everyone got a taste of what state is going to be like.”
Chew opened the Masters tournament with a 15-8 decision and a 9-8 decision before he lost on a 16-1 technical fall to Emilio Saavedra of Modesto, who went on to win the gold. On Saturday, Chew won a 5-3 decision, lost a 5-2 decision to Tanner Robison of Del Oro High and won the seventh-place match by forfeit.
Chew said afterward that he’d been confident all year that he could meet his goal of qualifying for state. He added that he and his Kimball teammate Nicholson had been pushing each other to go further each year.
“I'm going to have to train even harder with Trent. He’s a really good training partner,” Chew said. “We just have to work harder, put in a little bit more work, and hopefully we could do good at state, too.”
Other local wrestlers competing at the Masters meet included West High seniors Carlos Vasquez (132) and Antonio Orosco (145), who both went 2-2 and were eliminated Friday. Tracy High senior Alex Warner (285) went 1-2 on Friday.
Contact Bob Brownne at 830-4227 or email@example.com.