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A Stellar Year
Ceres High School's Gabe Balderas compiled a 2-2 record at the CIF State Wrestling Championships for the second year in a row.

The 113-pound junior lost his final two matches on Friday in Bakersfield and fell short of his goal of a top-8 finish.

"I'm a little disappointed," said Gabe, who returned home with a sprained left knee. "I expected to do better."

Balderas opened the tournament with back-to-back wins.

He edged Long Beach Poly's A.J. McKee by decision, 7-6, in the first round.

Gabe overcame a 4-0 deficit and won by pin (2:37) versus San Fernando's Johnny Parada in the second round. Balderas sprained his knee early in the match.

"We got some ice on it and taped it," Bulldogs head coach Jon Nowicki said. "I know it was hurting him the entire time but he didn't complain. He fought through the pain pretty well."

"It didn't affect how I wrestled," Gabe said. "I didn't feel it because of the adrenaline."

James Logan's Jacob Macalolooy dealt Balderas his first loss of the tournament. Macalolooy prevailed, 5-3.

"If Gabe wins that match, he goes to the quarterfinals and is one match away from placing," Nowicki said. "He had his opportunities. He just quite couldn't get it done. His mistakes caught up to him."

Monache's Seth Hood eliminated Balderas. Gabe lost by major decision (10-2).

Balderas posted a 44-13 record during the 2011-12 campaign. He became just the sixth Ceres High wrestler in the last 17 years to qualify for state twice.

"Overall, he had a great season," Nowicki said. "I think he's ready to turn the corner and be one of the elite kids in the state. He's already one of the best wrestlers to come out of Ceres High and is not done yet."