Nine Diamondbacks and eight Cougars placed after a full day of wrestling at Saturday’s Sierra Valley Conference Championships hosted by El Dorado.
At stake on the three mats — one brand new — was advancement to next week’s Division IV Tournament at Los Banos High. League champ Vista del Lago cleaned up with seven titles among the 14 weight classes while Cosumnes Oaks had five, first-place finishers. Both Union Mine and the Cougars were shut out of the top of the podium.
“It surprises me (no titles) but at the same time I recognize where we are as a team and that’s very young,” D’back coach Tim Brown said. “Considering where we started we’ve improved a lot.”
Six area wrestlers did make the finals but each were defeated. Union Mine 220-pounder Augie Ahuna came the closest, battling Vista’s Clayton Wagner through three grueling periods of a 3-2 setback. Ahuna, in his first year of wrestling, reversed for a 2-1 lead in the third before fatigue got the best of him and Wagner’s late reverse out of a reset stood as the decisive points.
Other D’backs placing second were Matt Cathey (145) and Hunter Cannon (170). For El Dorado, Jeremiah Romero (152) won his semifinal match by 15 points but lost his final by 14; Ricky Reed (160) was on both sides of pins in his two matches; and Alex LeBaron (182) battled tough in his 6-2 finals’ match loss.
“It’s depressing (didn’t have any winners) but we’re going in the right direction,” Cougar coach Robert Hart said. “We wrestled tough — just not the smartest at times — and the team knows it.”
There were three intra-county matchups in the semis: Cathey blanked John Kunkle 6-0 in a physical bout; Reed pinned Brian Craik in the second period; and Cannon made a takedown and reverse stand in a 4-2 decision over Tyler Land.
Other wrestlers to advance for Union Mine were: Chris Lee (113, 3rd), Steve Walker (120, 3rd), Kevin Casio (126, 4th), Christian Beck (132, 4th), Craik (160, 4th) and Zach Mathews (HWT, 3rd). For the Cougars, Alex Ollar (113, 4th), Marcus Douglas (126, 3rd), and Kunkel (145, 3rd) move on.
El Dorado’s Kieran Taylor (132), Nathaniel Erskine (138) and Zach Brazell (HWT) are alternates.