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CHS ties for first with LB, qualifies for section team duals
Eric Bejaran knew what was at stake.

The 184-pound sophomore's first-round pin of Josh Simmons propelled Ceres High School's varsity wrestling team past Central Catholic, 39-31, Wednesday night in front of an energized crowd at Phil de la Porte Gymnasium.

"I had a talk with him before the match," Bulldogs head coach Jon Nowicki said. "I told him what he needed to do. He wasn't waiting for anything. He looked focused. He did a great job against a pretty tough kid."

Ceres High (9-3, 5-1) tied for first place in the Western Athletic Conference dual-meet standings with Los Banos, which suffered its first loss of the season last week. Ceres High and Los Banos earned the right to compete at the Sac-Joaquin Section Team Dual Championships.

"The kids stepped up this year," Nowicki said.

Joey Bettencourt, Moses Gomez and Sam Ochoa won by forfeit at 108, 140 and 222 pounds, respectively, against Central Catholic.

Erick Garcia won by pin (1:19) over Gregory Tybor at 134 pounds.

Nick Santibanez appeared on his way to a lopsided loss before stunning Timmy Gutierrez by pin (5:12) at 122 pounds.

Ivan Raya won by decision (9-2) over Mike Hernandez at 172 pounds. Raya scored a two-point takedown 10 seconds into the match.

Ceres High's Brandon Christeson, Rudy Gonzalez and David Cisneros were edged out by Central Catholic's Devon Kelly, Ryan McLean and Galihiel Dillard.

Christeson lost by decision (6-5) at 128 pounds.

Gonzalez lost by decision (5-3) at 197 pounds.

Cisneros lost by decision (8-5) at 147 pounds.

Bulldog 154-pounder Nick Moran lost by major decision (16-8) to Ray Lomas.

Moran and Lomas both climbed to fourth at 147 and 154 pounds, respectively, in the Sac-Joaquin Section Rankings last month.

Austin Moore lost by pin (3:54) to Central Catholic's Reggie Bland at 162 pounds.

Bulldog heavyweight Armando Morales lost by pin (1:22) to former Central Valley student-athlete Andrew Betchart.

Ceres High lost by forfeit at 113 pounds.

Raya's victory gave the Bulldogs a two-point lead and set up the winner-take-all scenario. The Raiders would have secured the team victory had Ivan lost by pin.

"It was very close," Nowicki said while talking about the competitive nature of the Ceres High-Central Catholic dual. "It came down to the last match."

Bejaran delivered when it mattered the most. He pinned Simmons late in the first round (1:56).

"It was a great moment for the team and fans," Nowicki said.

The Bulldogs will compete at the WAC Championships this Saturday. The tournament is being staged by Central Catholic at Central Valley High School.

First-round matches will get underway at 9 a.m.