Saturday, February 21, 2015

EG Wrestlers Win Div I-A Championship

Elk Grove did more than win the Sac-Joaquin Section’s Division I-A wrestling championship Saturday. They ended a streak of Division I titles by Vacaville dating back to 1994.

The Bulldogs had a full-Nelson hold on that blue banner the past twenty years. Now, Pat Coffing’s boys have another banner to hang in the Cartwright Gym.

“And, those don’t come easily,” Coffing claimed. “Elk Grove High School has never won this tournament. Absolutely, this was our best performance of the year. This will be our fifth Section title in school history.”
EGHS Wrestlers, 2015 SJS Div.1A Champions

The last time Elk Grove’s grapplers won a Section banner was 2009 when the Herd beat Vacaville for the Division I Team Dual title. Now, with all 14 wrestlers qualified for this weekend’s Masters Wrestling Championships in Stockton, the Herd is setting themselves up to win that banner for the first time since 2001. However, Coffing says the Division I-AA champions, Del Oro, may have something to say about that first.

“Del Oro is the best team in the Section,” he claimed. “Even though Folsom beat them in a dual, Del Oro had some kid out who was at the doctor’s and really Folsom should have never been at the Section duals and we should have been beaten by Del Oro.”

Folsom defeated Elk Grove on Feb. 7 for the 2015 Division I Team Dual Championship. That was the Bulldogs’ second consecutive team championship.

At last weekend’s Divisionals, which were at McNair High School, Elk Grove won three individual championships, three others were second and seven wrestlers grabbed third place medals.

In what may be the finest performance by an Elk Grove wrestling squad since they finished third in the state championships in 2005, Coffing had plenty of plaudits for his guys.

“I wanted to make it very, very clear to our student/athletes that we are in the business of developing young men,” Coffing said. “When you win (the Divisional championship) act like it was the tenth one you won. You have to admire the confidence and control Vacaville had on this (championship) and beating them is a big deal. It really is.”

Coffing thinks this may be the first time he’s ever taken an entire team to the Masters where the top six finishers in each weight group will advance on to the CIF State Wrestling Championships in Bakersfield in two weeks.

Winning an individual divisional championship were 113-pounder Jacob Seto, 132-pounder Kalani Tonge and 220-pounder Sai Ta’amu. Tonge’s win was particularly sweet because he defeated Franklin’s four-time league champion, Josh Villaflor.

“That’s the first time he’s beaten Josh,” Coffing said. “Josh is a very seasoned wrestler and Kalani did an excellent job to push the match in the direction he wanted it to go and took Josh down in overtime to beat him.”

Ta’amu remained undefeated this season with his championship on Saturday. Pleasant Grove’s Deler Ghazi won the 160-pound individual title.

Grabbing second-place silver medals were Brandon Viale at 160 pounds, Spencer Francesconi at 106 pounds and Jesse Arroyo at 120 pounds.

Elk Grove’s third-place winners were Terrell Turner (138), Carson Sperber (145),  Arsenio Ayala (152), Zach Krock (170), Ryan Rosales (182), Jake Bellecci (195) and Tyler Yates (285).

“Rosales did a phenomenal job,” Coffing said. “He beat Bobby Posades from Grace Davis who is ranked 13th in the state. He beat him 5-2 and dominated him. Spencer Francesconi won three nail-biters to get to the finals.  Seto just put on his lunch pail and did what he had to do and beat the best kid in the weight class and dominated everyone else. Arroyo, the way he picked apart the Napa kid and the Will C. Wood kid was a thing of beauty, even though he lost in the finals.”

Sperber dislocated his shoulder during the competition and recovered enough to place third, according to Coffing.

Franklin qualified four grapplers for Masters, which start Friday at the Stockton Arena. They are Antonio Jimenez (5th at 138 pounds), Robbie Nickerson (2nd at 182 pounds) and Noah Hanson (7th at 220 pounds), along with Villaflor.

Sheldon’ s qualifiers were Ethan Brewer, who was fourth at 126 pounds, Thyson Xiong, fourth at 120 pounds and Sue Feng Xiong, a sixth-place finisher at 113.

Monterey Trail’s 113-pounder Israel Washington, who was second, 145-pounder Philip Urriza, who finished seventh, Donovan Bersiminia, a fifth-place finisher at 152 pounds and Austin Nguyen, second at 220 pounds, will represent that school at the Masters.

And, qualifying from Pleasant Grove were Ghazi along with 285-pounder Tanner Darm, Casey Turpin at 170 pounds and Greg Valencia at 132 pounds.

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