It might be too early to crown the Calaveras High School wrestling team Mother Lode League dual champions, but that doesn’t mean Calaveras isn’t headed in that direction. In the first MLL dual of the season, Calaveras had no problem sending the Summerville Bears back to Tuolumne.
Calaveras proved why it is still the elite program in the league with an impressive 53-9 win over Summerville Wednesday night at Mike Flock Gym in San Andreas. Calaveras finished the night with nine individual wins and six pins.
“We can still improve on our conditioning and our top wrestling, but I think we are right where we want to be at this point of the season,” said Calaveras’ first-year head coach Ryan Upchurch. “We are at the point now with three weeks to go until the league tournament; it’s time to kick it up another notch.”
Calaveras took a 6-0 lead right out of the gate and never looked back. Calaveras’ Ty Ferrante pinned Summerville’s Cole Ray in the 113-pound match to begin the night. In the 120-pound match, Calaveras freshman Dominic Boitano had his hands full with senior state qualifier Brennan Dibble. Dibble led 5-0 after the first period and 11-0 heading into the third. But Boitano continued to battle and finished with an 11-4 defeat.
Even though Boitano was unable to pick up a victory, he was the wrestler that got the most praise from his head coach at the end of the night.
“He (Boitano) wrestled a senior returning state qualifier as a freshman and he’s had less than 10 varsity matches,” Upchurch said. “He didn’t give up a major decision and scored the last three points of the match. Dibble is a notorious pinning machine and Boitano did not get pinned. He was fearless.”
Summerville tied things up at 6-6 after the 126-pound match, were Summerville’s Adam Ballard beat Calaveras sophomore Phoenix Nguyen 14-8. Perhaps the most lopsided match of the evening came in the 132-pound match. Calaveras freshman CJ Meza had no problem beating Levi Izzo 15-0.
“What I love about him is that he’s transitioned to being a varsity wrestler as a freshman,” Upchurch said about Meza. “He’s just another one of the guys on the team. He’s a ‘yes coach, yes sir’ type of guy and he does everything that we ask of him. I treat him like he’s a senior and he goes out and performs like one.”
Owen Murphy followed Meza and picked up a pin with eight seconds remaining in the first period in the 138-pound match. Murphy was leading 2-0 before he stuck Logan Conklin’s shoulders to the mat.
“He was much taller that I am,” Murphy said. “He locked up a cradle, so I broke out of it and did the same to him to put him on his back. From there, it became a scramble and I was able to roll him over.”
Calaveras picked up an 8-2 victory from Chris Autrey (145 pounds) and then an 8-3 win from sophomore Caden Villegas (152 pounds), which gave the home team a 23-6 lead. Summerville got its final three points of the night when Austin Luckett held on to beat Tim Alec 11-8 in the 160-pound match.
With the score 23-9, Calaveras went on to end the night with 30 unanswered points. The run started with senior Zack Oberle (170 pounds) getting a pin over Leon Tippett late in the second period. Calaveras senior Michael Brookshire picked up a pin 1:20 into his 182-pound match against Jamie McDonald. Brookshire was filling in for an injured Dominic Giangregorio and he did not waste his moment to shine.
“This is his fourth-year wrestling in high school and he’s a guy who has bought into the system and works really hard,” Upchurch said about Brookshire. “You can't replace a Donivan, but Brookshire has been waiting in the wings and has been chomping at the bit. He did fantastic tonight.”
Next was a forfeit in the 182-pound match as Calaveras senior Elliot Houghten got his hand raised in victory. The last two matches of the night ended with pins in the first period. Bradley Fuller (220 pounds) pinned his opponent with 51 seconds remaining in the first period and senior Austyn Shoemaker pinned Summerville’s Julian Pimentel 1:50 seconds into their match.
Of Calaveras’ six pins, four of them came from its heavier weight classes.
“If you have a big athletic guy, you can teach him how to wrestle in six months,” Upchurch said. “With smaller guys, you run into more year-round wrestlers. Do we need to pick it up in our middleweights? Absolutely. And some of them have been staying after practice and working on some things. I think that we are going to continue to keep going in the right direction.”
Calaveras will next compete at the Tim Brown Invitational in Sacramento on Friday and Saturday. Its next MLL dual will be Jan. 16 in San Andreas against Argonaut and Bret Harte. That will also be senior night.
Calaveras’ JV team defeated Summerville 54-18 Wednesday night in San Andreas.
Calaveras picked up pins from CJ Munniks, Ron Garcia, Josh Petty, John Arbuckle and Mason Anderson. Calaveras also got forfeit wins from Nick Garibay, Kai McKinney, Donovan Deangelis, and Taylor Naves.