Gabe Balderas put on his Bulldog singlet for the final time this past week.
The Ceres High senior headed to Bakersfield in search of glory and returned home empty-handed.
Balderas dropped two of three matches while competing in the 113-pound weight class at the CIF State Wrestling Championships.
Gabe opened the tournament with a 16-15 loss to Bloomington's Jorge Carbajal.
He edged Brawley's Isaac Moreno, 6-4, in the consolation bracket.
Reedley's A.J. Rosas ended Balderas' season. Gabe suffered a 6-2 loss.
"I should have been on the podium placing," he said. "I just had a bad tournament. There's a lot of stuff I could have done better. That's the worst part of it."
Gabe had a memorable four-year career with the Bulldogs.
Balderas compiled a 156-42 record.
He qualified for state three times. No other Ceres High grappler has accomplished that feat.
He won three Western Athletic Conference titles.
He placed first at Divisionals once.
"Coming in as a freshman, I never thought I'd be this good," Balderas said. "I'm pretty happy with how I ended my career. I had an amazing year. I placed at every tournament except at state. I'm not done. I definitely want to wrestle in college."
Lomeli suffers heartbreak
Malynda Lomeli changed her to-do list after qualifying for the third annual CIF Girls State Wrestling Invitational.
The Central Valley senior fell one victory and one point shy of accomplishing her goal of bringing home a medal from Lemoore.
"We knew it wasn't going to be easy," Hawks head coach Rob Beckhart said. "I have no complaints with her efforts. She went above and beyond what everybody expected from her."
Lomeli placed in the top 12 in the 122-pound division with a respectable 3-2 record.
She pinned Mar Vista's Veronica Acosta (2:49), Lemoore's Esperanza Cadena (2:01) and Folsom's Tita-Marie Yasay (4:15).
Malynda lost to Sierra Vista's Marisela Fierro (decision, 9-2) and North View's Lazmin Perez (decision, 3-2).
Fierro and Perez took third and seventh, respectively. "Malynda fell one win shy of being on the podium," Beckhart said. "I told her I was proud of her."
Lomeli finished the year with a 35-7 record.
"She had a great season," Beckhart said. "She's the most prolific wrestler we've ever had. If I could take her work ethic, and put it in some of the guys, they'd be unbeatable. That leadership quality will be missed."