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Movin’ on up

Stacy Hicklin

Nevada Union wrestling coach Shane Valdez is happy with his wrestlers, not just because six of them qualified for the Sac-Joaquin Section Meet next weekend, but more so because the attitudes they demonstrated en route to qualifying for the section meet.

“We really try to peak guys to keep the fight in them this late in the season,” Valdez said. “A lot of wrestlers are so tired by now that you can tell that they are ready to get knocked out. But we want our guys to be in top shape and have top attitudes at this point in the season. They look hungry to wrestle and that is huge this late in the season.”

Not only did they look hungry to wrestle this past weekend at the NorthWest Sub-Section, hosted by Nevada Union, they wrestled hungry as well with six out of the nine wrestlers who qualified for the sub-section meet placing in the top six in their weight classes to move on to the section meeting in Turlock next weekend.

Senior Drew Maraglia (140) and junior Luke Manuel (135) led the way, winning their respective weight classes, with junior Zack Callas (160) and senior Brian Wheatley (170) each taking third in the meet. Two freshmen grapplers, Jake Cena (103) and Matt Manuel (112) will also make the trip to the section meet after finishing in fifth and fourth places, respectively.

Luke Manuel had perhaps the most exciting of the 14 championship matches as only three matches, including his match, were decided by two points or less.

Wrestling against Vacaville’s Josiah Biondo, Manuel found himself down 4-0 in the first period after Biondo earned points for a take down and a near fall.

Manuel ended the first period with one point for an escape and then earned all three points awarded in the second period with another escape point and a take down of his own, knotting the grapplers at four going into the final period.

Biondo scored two points, but Manuel scored four, giving the Miner a 8-6 win.

“Luke got caught in a headlock in the beginning, but he didn’t lose composure,” Valdez said. “I told him he had to pick him (Biondo) apart and he showed a lot of poise. He didn’t panic and kept with the game plan and tired out his opponent and got him frustrated.”

It wasn’t the first time the two had faced off against each other, as Manuel beat Biondo 7-5 at the section duals two weeks ago.

“I knew after the last time we wrestled that he was kind of gunning for me, so I knew it was going to be a close match,” Manuel said. “I am feeling confident for next weekend and definitely feel like I can win there too.”

What started out as a close match between Maraglia and his championship match opponent, Robert Campbell of Vacaville, soon turned in favor of the Miner wrestler as Maraglia recorded one of four pins tallied in the championship round.

“I knew I could beat him after the first two periods,” Maraglia said. “He just looked broken and I could tell he didn’t want it all.”

Maraglia, like Manuel, found himself down 4-0 in the first period after Campbell scored a takedown and near fall, but stormed back with an escape and takedown of his own to narrow the gap to 4-3 going into the second period. It was all Maraglia in the second period as he again scored an escape point and two for a take down.

Maraglia had wrestled Campbell two other times this season, beating him 7-2 at the Five Counties Tournament in Orange County and 5-2 at the section duals.

“Matches like Drew had are what I like to see,” Valdez said. “I like to see guys making improvements throughout the year. He went from having a close match to a pin.”

Callas and Wheatley both won their third-place matches due to their opponents injury defaulting prior to the matches. Matt Manuel lost his third-place match 5-4 after his opponent, Todd Wilcox a junior from Folsom, scored a point for an escape with five seconds left in the match.

Cena beat Timmy Navarez from Yuba City 10-0 in the fifth-place match for the 103-pound weight class.

“Out guys wrestled great matches this weekend,” Valdez said. “We made a lot of improvement against guys that had beaten us previously. I think all of our guys are capable of making it to the second day of the section meet next weekend.”


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