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CHS wrestler Gabe Balderas qualifies for CIF State Meet for third year in a row
Bulldog grappler Gabe Balderas will compete at the CIF State Wrestling Championships later this week in Bakersfield. Balderas advanced thanks to his runner-up finish at Masters.

Ceres High's Gabe Balderas stands alone now.

Balderas became the first wrestler in school history to qualify for the CIF State Meet three times.

The 113-pound senior grappler punched his ticket to state with a runner-up finish at the Sac-Joaquin Section Masters Championships on Saturday at Stockton Arena.

"He's one of the most decorated wrestlers to ever come out of Ceres," Ceres High head coach Jon Nowicki said. "The only thing that's missing is a state medal. If he wrestles like the way he can wrestle, that will be a reality."

Ceres High senior teammates Ruben Sanchez and Armando Morales fell short of their goal by finishing outside the top seven at Masters last week.

Gabe placed second with a 4-1 record.

Balderas lost by pin (3:49) to Modesto High's Isreal Saavedra in the finals.

He collected wins versus Jesuit's Gilbert Martinez (decision, 4-0), Folsom's Carlos Alvarez (decision, 7-2), Mariposa's Sebastian Padua (pin, 1:37) and Pitman's Haydon Mattox (pin, 3:13).

Sanchez posted a 2-2 record at 220 pounds.

Ruben beat Vallejo's Merrick Yra (pin, 1:48) and Downey's Leo Bracamonte (default).

He lost to Kimball's Logan Finley (decision, 5-4) and Will C. Wood's Josh Winters (decision, 7-2).

Morales won one of three matches at 285 pounds.

Armando beat Woodland's Vincent Alvarez (decision, 3-0).

He lost by a combined three points to Buhach Colony's Carlos Gutierrez (decision, 3-1) and Benicia's Steven Rohrer (decision, 1-0).

Balderas continues to make history during his final season with the Bulldogs.

He qualified for state again, captured his first Sac-Joaquin Section Division-IV title, and three-peated at the WAC finals.

The CIF State Meet will be staged at March 1-2 at Rabobank Arena in Bakersfield.

"He's been pretty consistent this year," Nowicki said. "I don't see why he won't place at state. He has all the skills."