Miner wrestlers reach podium at state | TheUnion.com

Miner wrestlers reach podium at state

Despite falling short of their ultimate goals, Nevada Union seniors Luke Manuel and Zach Callas both made it to the medal podium Saturday night at the CIF/Les Schwab Tires State Wrestling Championships in Bakersfield.

Manuel advanced to the 152-pound division championship match before he dropped an 8-3 decision against Jason Welch of Las Lomas (Walnut Creek), while Callas wound up with a sixth-place medal in the 160-pound weight class at the end of the two-day tournament at Rabobank Arena.

“We were definitely happy,” Nevada Union coach Shane Valdez said. “It’s always good to come home with two medalists, so we’re proud of them. They’ve put in a lot of work the last five years, and it’s paid off.”

Nevada Union finished tied for 15th in the team standings with 43.5 points. Buchanan (Clovis) edged Poway (San Diego 134-126.5 for the team championship. The only Sac-Joaquin Section team to finish higher than Nevada Union was Ponderosa in eighth-place (55).

Both Nevada Union wrestlers advanced to the semifinals by winning matches Friday. Manuel ended his season with a 47-2 record, with both losses coming at the hands of Welch, and Callas finished at 40-8.

Manuel needed little time to win his semifinal Saturday morning, when he pinned Anthony Meza of Vista in 1 minute, 17 seconds.

The final was a showdown between Manuel and Welch, wrestlers ranked No. 1 and 2 in the state who had split two previous meetings against each other. Welch (52-2), a sophomore who placed second at state last year, scored on three takedowns and one reversal. Manuel’s three points came on escapes.

“I still think if they were to wrestle 10 times, they’d each win five times. Welch just happened to win this one,” Valdez said. “They’re so even. I think you’re going to see them battling each other in freestyle, and even in college, for a while.”

After all, these are the best wrestlers in the state.

“Not too many kids in California get to be up on that victory stand,” Valdez said.

Callas lost his semfinal by an 8-1 decision against Sac-Joaquin Section rival Victor Carazo of Grace Davis. Then, after dropping into the consolation bracket, Callas lost a 4-1 verdict to Ponderosa’s Justin Danz and finally lost the fifth-sixth medal match 8-1 against Nick Bardsley of Clovis West.

Carazo went on to lose his championship match when Greg Crane of Fremont (Sunnyvale) scored on a late near fall to win 9-8.

The Sac-Joaquin Section produced two individual champions: Billy Murphy of Hughson at 130 pounds and Louis Bland of Central Catholic at 189 pounds.

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