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Bulldog grappler Moran finishes sixth at Sierra-Nevada Classic
Ceres High School's varsity wrestling program competed at the Sierra-Nevada Classic for the first time this past week.

The Bulldogs placed 50th at the 97-team event, held Dec. 28-29 at the Reno Livestock Events Center.

"The kids had fun," Ceres High head coach Jon Nowicki said. "The competition was ridiculous. There were no slouch teams. It's definitely the best tournament we've been to this season. It was good to get that experience."

Three Bulldog grapplers finished in the top 12 in their respective weight classes, including Nick Moran, Gabriel Balderas and Armando Morales.

Moran, who was unseeded, placed sixth at 145 pounds.

He posted a 4-3 record.

Nick beat Hughson's Bruce Laird (pin, 0:37), Sedro Woolley's Kyle Morgan (decision, 6-5), Oakdale's Tyler Malone (decision, 2-1) and Kenny Terry of Grants Pass (decision, 13-6).

Morgan was a state-placer in Washington last season.

"It should give him (Moran) a lot of confidence," Nowicki said. "He's showing he can wrestle with elite competition."

Morales and Balderas also advanced to the second day of the tournament.

Armando, the No. 9 seed in the heavyweight class, won two of his four matches. He advanced to the quarterfinals.

Morales beat Rodriguez's Anthony Ishaq (pin, 3:03) and Buchanan's Frankie Jimenez (decision, 1-0). He lost to eventual-champion Michael Loman of Foothill (pin, 0:30) and fourth-place Danny Ochoa of Atwater (decision, 6-3).

"Armando will be a force to be reckoned with at the end of the season if he can figure out how to get off the bottom," Nowicki said. "He'll be hard to beat."

Balderas, the No. 6 seed at 113 pounds, compiled a 4-2 mark.

Gabriel reeled off four straight wins after losing his first match. He won by pin (0:29) and major decision (16-2) once, and decision (2-1, 9-3) twice.

Bulldog teammates Ruben Sanchez, Joey Bettencourt, Nick Santibanez, Connor Joseph, Erick Garcia, Moses Gomez and David Cisneros participated in the Sierra-Nevada Classic as well.

Sanchez had a .500 record (2-2) at 220 pounds. He won by pin twice (1:10, 3:10).

Bettencourt (106 pounds), Santibanez (120 pounds) and Joseph (126 pounds) compiled identical 1-2 records.

Joey, Nick and Connor won 4-1, 7-2 and 3-1, respectively.

Santibanez earned a spot in the Bulldogs' lineup after winning a challenge match at practice.

Garcia (132s), Christeson (138s) and Gomez (152s) all lost twice.

Ceres High will compete at Western Athletic Conference-rival Los Banos on Wednesday. The Bulldogs will participate in Turlock High School's tournament this Saturday.