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Hawks wrestlers impress coach
New-look Central Valley wins WAC dual opener, excels at Los Banos tour.
Joaquin Garcia and Central Valleys varsity wrestling team will face off against Livingston next Wednesday in Ceres. The Hawks opened the WAC dual-meet season at Los Banos on Dec. 10. Central Valley earned a hard-fought 36-33 win. - photo by DALE BUTLER/The Courier

Central Valley High School's varsity wrestling program made history this past season by winning all six of its Western Athletic Conference dual matches.

The new-look Hawks opened the 2014-15 WAC season with a thrilling 36-33 win over host Los Banos on Dec. 10.

"It's a huge win for our program," Central Valley head coach Rob Beckhart said. "It gives the kids a tremendous amount of confidence considering we're so young."

The Hawks improved to 2-1 overall and 1-0 in the WAC standings.

Central Valley defeated visiting Hilmar 51-20 on Dec. 9.

Central Valley suffered a 39-33 loss at Grace Davis on Dec. 2.

"The loss to Grace Davis had to happen for us to refocus," Beckhart said. "We definitely have some room to get better. The big thing is to keep working hard."

The Hawks and Tigers both won seven individual matches.
"We were able to get pins when we needed them and not get pinned," Beckhart said.

Central Valley competed with a new lineup as it lost 10 of 14 starters to graduation.

"It's surprising," Beckhart said. "I didn't expect to win. The kids fought hard. I can't say enough about their effort and determination. They wrestled to their potential. They exceeded my expectations. I'm proud of them."

Sophomore Christian Oliver's first-round pin (1:28) of Andreu Briceno in the 132-pound division gave Central Valley an insurmountable 36-27 lead.

"He knew what was at stake before going out there," Beckhart said. "We had a conversation about it. I could see it in his face. He wasn't going to lose. He had a lot more experience."

Junior Claudia Martinez made her debut with the Hawks.

The former standout youth grappler won by technical fall (15-0) versus 106-pounder Devin Vaca.

"It was surprising for other people to see," Beckhart said. "We totally expected it. She's in our lineup for a reason. She's good enough to wrestle with the guys. She has long legs and arms. It's hard to counter her leverage. She has good mat awareness. She has a great attitude. She's tough. She's going to win matches."

Central Valley's Luis Torres earned a hard-fought 4-3 win over Los Banos' Fernando Mendoza Rincon at 170 pounds. Torres scored a takedown with 10 seconds left in the final round.

"We needed every point that we got," Beckhart said.

Hawk teammates Luis Saucedo, Ryan Hendrix, Adrian Badillo and Joaquin Garcia were also victorious.

Saucedo won by pin (0:43) against Jakob Ramirez at 113 pounds.

Hendrix won by pin (1:28) against Max Pugh at 126 pounds.

Badillo won by pin (3:18) against Roberto Torres at 195 pounds.

Garcia won by major decision (10-0) against Paul Reyes at 182 pounds.

Central Valley's Andrew Marquez, Jason Beckhart, Jose Castillo, Sev Vazquez, Ricardo Briseno, Cory Cantaloube and Isaac De La Cruz dropped their respective matches.

Marquez lost 15-10 in overtime to two-time state-meet qualifier Tyler Felix at 152 pounds.

"I'm pretty sure Andrew pinned Tyler in the second round and the referee wasn't in position to see it," Beckhart said.

Beckhart lost by decision (7-0) to Daniel Fernandez at 220 pounds.

Castillo lost by decision (8-1) to Josh Bustamante at 145 pounds.

Vazquez lost by pin (5:07) to Dalton Brooks at 160 pounds.

Briseno lost by pin (4:18) to Christian McEntire at 120 pounds.

Cantaloube lost by pin (3:42) to Isaiah Jimenez at 138 pounds.

De La Cruz lost by pin (1:33) to Evan Duran at 285 pounds.

Central Valley battled back from an early 12-3 deficit on its way to upsetting Los Banos.

"It was pretty exciting," Beckhart said. "The gym was full. It was loud. Everyone knew what was at stake. The task at hand now is to keep everybody grounded."

CV fourth at LB event
Central Valley placed fourth with a team score of 131 while competing at the Morning Star Classic on Dec. 20 in Los Banos.

The top three teams won trophies, including Oakdale (283.5), Golden Valley (215) and Clovis (143). The top six individuals in each weight class took home medals.

"I'm extremely happy with how my team's wrestling," Beckhart said. "They're surprising me. I would have been happy with a top-10 finish. It's a tough tournament."

Six of Central Valley's 13 grapplers claimed medals at the 22-team event, including Saucedo, Hendrix, De La Cruz, Badillo, Alex Alvarado, and Gabriel Martinez.

"Our kids wrestled tough," Beckhart said.

Saucedo (113 pounds), Hendrix (126s) and De La Cruz (285s) placed fourth in their respective weight divisions.

Luis, Ryan and Isaac compiled identical 2-2 records.

Alvarado (152s), Martinez (170s) and Badillo (195s) all finished in fifth place.

Alex compiled a 4-1 record.

Gabriel compiled a 1-1 record.

Badillo compiled a 3-1 record.

"I expected us to take a lot of lumps this year because we're young," coach Beckhart said. "We're building on last year's success."