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Hawk newcomer qualifies for state tourney
Central Valley senior Michael Miller finished sixth overall at the Sac-Joaquin Section Masters Tournament on Saturday at Delta College in Stockton. Miller, a Grace Davis transfer, posted a 4-3 record.

It didn’t take senior Michael Miller long to make a name for himself as a member of Central Valley High School’s varsity boys wrestling team.

The Grace Davis transfer became just the fourth Hawk grappler in program history to qualify for the CIF State Championships this past week.

Miller earned a berth by finishing sixth in the 140-pound weight class at the Sac-Joaquin Section Masters Tournament on Saturday at Delta College in Stockton.

“It’s a dream come true. But I’m not done yet. I’m still hungry. My goal is to be CV’s first state placer.”
Michael Miller

“It’s a dream come true,” he said. “But I’m not done yet. I’m still hungry. My goal is to be CV’s first state placer.”

“I didn’t feel Michael was going to be denied a state berth,” Central Valley coach Rob Beckhart said. “This is what he’s always wanted. He’s been wrestling his whole life. He’s mentally tough. He knows what it takes to win. I have to give credit to his previous coaches (Tony Luna and Lim Prim).”

Miller compiled a 4-3 record at Masters.

He earned back-to-back victories in the blood rounds to qualify for state.

He forfeited the fifth-place match due to a back strain.

“I started crying thinking my season could have ended and it didn’t,” Miller said. “I hugged my mom and dad. It’s crazy. I finally achieved my goal. It’s mind blowing.”

Miller was cleared to wrestle by the California Interscholastic Federation in December.

“I had to sit out a year and a half,” Miller said. “It was heartbreaking. I had an emotional breakdown. I was determined to come back.”

“He wasn’t even sure if he was going to be able to wrestle,” Beckhart said. “He took advantage of the opportunity. He rose to the occasion.”

Ryan Palecek, Ruben Valenzuela, Kyle Hendrix and David Martinez also represented the Hawks at Masters.

Palecek, a senior, won two of four matches at 182 pounds.

“If he would have wrestled to his potential, he could have made it to state,” Beckhart said.

Palecek posted a 31-13 overall record during his last year with Central Valley.

“I’m proud of him,” Beckhart said. “He’s a completely different wrestler from his freshman year. It was fun to see his growth. He was one of the leaders on the team. He was a guy I could always count on.”

Valenzuela, a freshman, won one of three matches at 160 matches.

He was slowed by a wrist injury.

Valenzuela compiled a 31-11 overall record.

“He’s going to do some really great things over the next three years,” Beckhart said. “I think he can make it to the state podium someday.”

Hendrix, a junior, lost twice at 132 pounds.

He won 30 of 48 matches this year.

“Kyle had a tough draw,” Beckhart said.

Martinez, a senior, went 0-2 at 152 pounds. 

He competed at the junior-varsity level last year.

Miller and other local wrestlers will train at Pitman High School in Turlock this week to prepare for the CIF State Meet, which will be staged Feb. 21-23 at Rabobank Arena in Bakersfield.

The top eight individuals in each weight class will be awarded medals.

“My whole high-school career has been leading up to this moment,” said Miller, who wrestled at Patterson as a freshman. “I’m just really excited. My goal is big. I’m going for the championship.”

“I think the sky is the limit for him,” Beckhart added. “He’s one of the best wrestlers in the state. I expect him to win some matches.”

Hawk grappler Michael Miller (green singlet) will compete at the CIF State Wrestling Championships this week at Rabobank Arena in Bakersfield.