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Wrestlers post high expectations
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Ryan Rodriguez and David Burris have been members of the Ceres High wrestling team since they were freshmen. They've been practice partners for three years.

The seniors want to compete at the CIF State Wrestling Championships in Bakersfield next month. To accomplish that goal, Ceres' co-team captains must finish in the top five in their respective weight classes at the Sac-Joaquin Section Meet, which is being held at Folsom High this Friday and Saturday.

"Everything we've set out to do so far, we've done it," said Burris, who plans to enroll at the Westpoint military academy after he graduates from Ceres High.

Added Rodriguez: "We keep pushing each other."

To advance to state, Rodriguez and Burris have to win their first two matches, which guarantees a berth into the semifinals and a top six finish. They must win one of their last three matches to finish in the top five. Both wrestlers made it to the section tournament last season. Burris was eliminated on the first day. Rodriguez was eliminated on the second day.

"They know what's on the line," said Ceres interim coach Bruce Scott. "It's just a matter of getting the job done.

"They're going to have to wrestle their best matches ever."

Added Burris: "It's very possible. All we have to do is wrestle to our potential."

Rodriguez has a tough road ahead of him as there are three state medalists in the 119-pound bracket, including Del Oro's Micah Ferguson, Turlock's Billy Exline and Bret Harte's T.J. Dillashaw.

"My real test will be at sections," Rodriguez said. "If I make it to the semifinals, I'll probably make it to state."

Burris' bracket also features some fierce competition, including Hughson's Billy Murphy and Vacaville's Marcus Orozco, the No. 2 and 3 ranked 125-pound wrestlers according to California Wrestler magazine, and Woodland's Josh Romero, Rocklin's Spencer Christensen and Golden Sierra's Dallin Willis.

"Sections is going to be real tough," Burris said.

Both wrestlers said it would be less intimidating if they went to state together.

"When you don't have anyone to warmup with, you don't get pumped up as much," Rodriguez said.

Added Burris: "We feed off of each other so much."

Rodriguez and Burris are best friends.

"We're with each other all the time, in school and out of school," Rodriguez said. "We're heck of close."

Burris and Rodriguez had memorable regular seasons. They helped lead Ceres High to a sixth-place finish in the Central California Conference (4-5). The Bulldogs went 1-8 in league last season.

Burris went 26-6 overall, including 10-1 at dual meets, claimed the 125-pound CCC title and placed at five of six tournaments, including first at the Ceres Invitational, second at the NorCal and James Riddle events, third at the California Bulldog Classic and fourth at the Keith Peterson Invitational.

"David brings a tenacity to the mat that is pretty impressive," Scott said. "He has a motor that runs 100 miles per hour, like a humming bird."

Added Burris: "I'm working harder this year. In past years, I was casual. I couldn't wait until practice was over so I could go home."

Rodriguez went 24-5 overall, including 10-1 at dual meets, finished second in league behind Exline and placed at every tournament he competed in. He finished first at the NorCal Championships and Ceres and Peterson invitationals, second at the James Riddle Tournament and Bulldog Classic and fourth at the California Invitational. - By DALE BUTLER / Staff Reporter of The Ceres (Calif.) Courier