Ceres High varsity boys wrestling standout Jaden Cooper ended two years of frustration by claiming the 147-pound title at the Sac-Joaquin Section Division-IV Championships on Saturday at Foothill High School in Sacramento.
"It's nice not coming up short and being the champion," Jaden said. "I took second the last two years. I expected nothing less than first. I'm happy but at the same time it's not my ultimate goal. I want to get to state."
"He's confident on the mat and the results are showing that," head coach Steve Festa said.
Cooper and Spencer Nelson, Daniel McElwain, Ethan Letras, Shanald Lal, Elias Saldana, Rafael Ortiz and Sonald Lal helped lead the Bulldogs to a third-place finish in the team standings.
Ceres High piled up 145.5 points.
Patterson (197) and Rosemont (176) placed first and second, respectively.
"I'm proud of the result," Festa said. "More than half of our lineup placed. We had opportunities to have even more placers. We lost some close matches."
Cooper, Nelson, McElwain, Letras and Shanald Lal were awarded berths to the Masters tournament.
The top four individuals in each weight class advanced.
Nelson placed first in the 184-pound bracket at Divisionals.
"He's somebody I never count out," Festa said. "He gets it done in the biggest moments."
McElwain placed third at 222 pounds.
Letras (162s) and Shanald Lal (115s) both placed fourth.
Saldana (287s) placed fifth.
Ortiz (122s) and Sonald Lal (108s) placed sixth.
"We did great as a team," Cooper added. "We're taking five guys to Masters."
The Masters tournament will be staged, Feb. 22-23, at Stockton Arena.
Cooper, Nelson, McElwain, Letras and Shanald Lal need to finish in the top six in their respective weight classes to advance to the CIF State Meet.
"Our focus is exactly where it needs to be," Festa said. "We'll be ready. Everyone knows what is on the line. We're looking forward to the challenge. We want to prove how good Ceres High wrestling is."
"I definitely think I can do it," Jaden said. "My mentality is so much stronger this year. I'm a lot more confident in who I am as a wrestler. I'm more determined to achieve my goals."