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Dawg, Hawks compete at Masters wrestling event
Makhai Smith wrestles
Two members of Central Valley’s boys wrestling team competed at the Sac-Joaquin Section Masters Tournament last week, including Makhai Smith. - photo by Courier file photo

Ceres High’s McCoy Adams and Central Valley’s Angel Melgoza and Makhai Smith competed at the Sac-Joaquin Section Masters Championships for the first time in their prep boys wrestling careers on Friday at Stockton Arena.

Smith, a senior, represented the Hawks for the final time.

Melgoza and Adams, who are both juniors, gained experienced for next year.

The top six placers in each weight class from Masters qualified for the CIF State Meet.

“When you get to Masters, it’s another level,” Bulldogs’ head coach Adam Borges said. “Everybody you face is good. It can be overwhelming being down in a fish bowl with everybody watching.”

“It’s the best wrestlers from all the divisions,” Hawks’ leader Rob Beckhart said. “There are no easy matches.”

Melgoza compiled a 1-2 record in the 175-pound weight bracket.

“Angel has nothing to be ashamed of,” Beckhart said. “His bracket was one of the toughest in the tournament. The top five wrestlers are returning state qualifiers.”

Melgoza beat Pacheco’s Javier Jimenez (pin, 2:480.

“He was in control the whole time,” said Beckhart.

Melgoza lost to Pitman’s Mason Ontiveros (pin, 1:36) and Folsom’s Angelo Sardo (pin, 2:26).

Ontiveros ended up taking first.

“We’re not at that level right now,” Beckhart said. “Maybe someday we’ll get there.”

A third-year wrestler, Melgoza qualified for Masters for the first time.

He placed fifth at the Sac-Joaquin Section Division-III Tournament and second at the Central California Conference Championships.

“He placed at just about every tournament he went to,” Beckhart said. “I’m excited to see what he can do next year. I definitely think state’s a possibility for him.”

Smith, a senior, compiled an 0-2 record at 215 pounds.

“I know he’s disappointed,” Beckhart said. “He has nothing to hang his head about. He did well this year. I’m definitely proud of him for making one of his goals come true. He definitely proved he belonged there (Masters).”

Smith lost to Waterford’s Daniel Mercado (pin, 5:26) and Sheldon’s Wade Wells (pin, 0:35).

“I wish he could have got a win under his belt,” said Beckhart. “Unfortunately, it didn’t work out for him. You can’t make mistakes at that level. You have to take advantage of your opportunities. He wrestled hard. He just got beat.”

A fourth-year grappler, Smith qualified for Masters for the first time this season.

“He lost a lot in the beginning,” commented Beckhart. “He gained some confidence and turned into the wrestler he wanted to be.”

Smith placed sixth at Divisionals and third in league during his final season with the Hawks.

“He’s always been a hard worker,” Beckhart said. “He’s at practice early and stays late. The big thing for him was he was able to turn it up a couple notches and see some success towards the end of the season. He got better at what he was doing.”

Smith was also a team leader.

“The other kids responded to him in a positive way,” noted Beckhart. “He stepped up. That shows growth and maturity.”

Adams compiled an 0-2 record at 113 pounds.

“He was prepared,” Borges said. “He might have been a little nervous. This was his first time going to Masters.”

Adams lost to River City’s Alan Butayev (pin, 1:22) and Jesuit’s Pierre Laborde-Lagrave (pin, 2:48).

“There were some positives,” Borges said. “He was winning his second match.”

Adams enjoyed his best season to date with the Bulldogs this winter.

“He did a lot better this year,” Borges said. “He wrestled tough. He improved. His mindset changed. He realized he needed to work harder. He did and it paid off. I’m looking forward to him making that next step next season.”

Adams took fourth at the Division-IV Championships and third at the WAC Tournament.

“The expectation is to make it to state next year,” Borges said. “It’s something you got to want. It’s not on your parents and coaches. It’s all on you.”