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McElwain, Bulldog teammates place at home tournament
Daniel McElwain made a triumphant return to the wrestling mat this past weekend. McElwain finished in first place in the 220-pound weight class at the Ceres Invitational. He was also named the tournaments Most Outstanding Upper-Weight grappler. - photo by Contributed to the Courier

A serious knee injury and heart issues couldn't keep Daniel McElwain from returning to the wrestling mat.

The Ceres High senior completed his comeback with a dominant showing at the 52nd Ceres Invitational on Saturday.

Daniel won all four of his matches by pin en route to finishing in first place in the 220-pound weight bracket.
He was also named Most Outstanding Upper-Weight Wrestler for the tournament.

"I've been putting in a lot of extra work after practice with (Bulldog teammate) Jaden Cooper," McElwain said. "He should have been up there on the podium with me. I couldn't have done it without him. The support from everybody was amazing. That drove me to do better."

Daniel tore the anterior cruciate ligament, medial collateral ligament and meniscus in his left knee during football practice in June of 2016. He also dislocated his patellar tendon.

McElwain's heart rhythm has had to be reset four times since he had surgery to repair his knee.

"Doctors told me to slow down," he said. "Wrestling is a huge part of my life. I can't stay away from the team. I'm going to keep training and pushing myself to the limit."

Daniel and six of his Bulldog teammates medaled at their home tournament.

McElwain, Andrew Gibson, Ethan Letras, Sonald Lau, Jaden Cooper, Spencer Nelson and Brian Becerra propelled Ceres High to a fourth-place finish in the team standings.

The Bulldogs racked up 156.5 points.

Crosstown-rival Central Valley (81) took seventh.

Pitman (203.5), El Capitan (182.5) and Chico (163) finished first, second and third, respectively.

McElwain dominated his four opponents.

Daniel topped Central Catholic's Ramsey Ferrer (pin, 0:48), El Capitan's Kyle Lee (pin, 1:38), Chico's Ben Allen (pin, 0:52) and Pitman's Brendon Tallent (pin, 1:53).

McElwain upset Tallent, a 2016-17 state-meet qualifier, in the finals.

"Coming into the tournament, I saw who I was going to be up against," McElwain said. "I was hoping to see Pitman in the finals. We were watching each other warm up. I'm sure he thought he was going to win. There was some pressure on me. At that point, we didn't have an individual champion. I wanted to be the first. I tried not to focus on what his ranking was."

Gibson (182 pounds, 3-1 record), Letras (170s, 2-1) and Lau (106s, 1-1) had to settle for runner-up honors in their respective weight classes.

Andrew topped Deer Valley's Edgar Padilla (pin, 1:56), Ceres High's David Caravalho (decision, 5-2) and Linden's Lucas Iniguez (decision, 10-7).

Ethan topped Chico's Kaden Kaps (pin, 1:39) and Beyer's Anthony Cortez (pin, 3:45).
Lau topped Livington's Filberto Salazar (pin, 0:52).
Cooper (152s, 4-1) finished in third place.

Jaden topped Hughson's Aiden Castro (pin, 1:30), Central Valley's Nathan Curry (decision, 8-2), Chico's Josh Ortega (pin, 1:39) and Big Valley's Josh Grabowski (forfeit).

Nelson (195s, 3-2) and Becerra (145s, 3-2) both placed fifth.

Spencer topped Central Valley's Natanael Lezama (pin, 3:30), Chico's Lorenzo Toribio (pin, 1:12) and Beyer's Raul Garcia (forfeit).

Brian topped Chico's Brayden Aletto (technical fall, 20-5), Central Catholic's Adam Nicholson (decision, 7-5) and Mountain House's Jacob Bowers (forfeit).

Bulldog teammates Marcus Martinez (126s, 2-2), Rafael Ortiz (120s, 2-2), Allen Thy (170s, 1-2), David Caravalho (182s, 1-2), Ricky Gonzalez (126s, 0-2), Fernando Gonzalez (160s, 0-2), Jesse Aranda (182s, 0-2), Austin Hanshew (195s, 0-2 and Chewy Salcedo (220s, 0-2) did not place.