Ceres High standout varsity boys wrestler Argel Arroyo came agonizingly close to qualifying for the CIF State Championships this past week.
Arroyo placed eighth in the 220-pound weight bracket at the Sac-Joaquin Section Masters Tournament on Saturday at Delta College in Stockton.
The top six finishers advanced to state.
“He made it onto the podium,” coach Steve Festa said. “Unfortunately, he fell short of his main goal. It’s heartbreaking.”
Arroyo posted a 4-3 record in the 220-pound weight bracket.
He beat Del Campo’s Jon Crawford (pin), Inderkum’s Andrew Poss (pin), Patterson’s Aaron Botkin (decision) and Yuba City’s Robert Teal (pin).
Arroyo lost twice to Tokay’s Carlos Torres (major decision, pin), and once to Lincoln of Stockton’s Isaac Davalos (pin).
He reeled off three straight victories to secure a top-eight finish.
“For him to accomplish what he did is remarkable and historic.”Coach Steve Festa of Argel Arroyo
“This is a young man that wrestled JV last year,” Festa said. “He’s never been in this position before. For him to accomplish what he did is remarkable and historic.”
Arroyo became just the fifth grappler from Ceres High to place at Masters since 2010.
“His name is going to be put on the banner in our wrestling room,” Festa said.
Arroyo compiled a 30-8 overall record during his final season with the Bulldogs.
He claimed titles at the Sac-Joaquin Section Division-IV, Western Athletic Conference, Mike Tamana and Ceres High tournaments.
He accomplished a lot in a short period of time.
“The journey has been really fun,” Festa said. “I’m very envious of what he did. He placed in the top eight in our section. He’s an elite wrestler. He proved that if you have the right mindset and put the work in, great things can happen to you. He grinded all year. I couldn’t be more proud of how he conducted himself on and off the mat.”
Ceres High junior Elias Saldana won two of four matches in the 285-pound weight division.
He beat Pleasant Grove’s Lincoln Banez (pin, 0:35) and Nevada Union’s Landon Low (pin, 0:18).
Saldana lost to Will C. Wood’s Javier Contreras (pin, 1:27) and Casa Roble’s Simon Villalovos (decision, 6-2).
“The heavyweight division was the toughest of the weight classes,” Festa said. “There were a lot of wrestlers that were ranked in the state and section. He was dominating on the mat and pushing guys around. He competed.”
Saldana compiled a 28-11 record during his second year with the Bulldogs.
He placed in six tournaments, including first once, second twice, third once and seventh twice.
“He had a great season,” Festa said. “He’ll have an opportunity to place at state next year.”