Tiger wrestlers win West Yosemite League tourney, but lose crown to Redwood High

By Ed Martin, Editor
Gary Joint won a WYL crown Thursday night for the Tigers
Gary Joint won a WYL crown Thursday night for the Tigers

Only one team has seriously challenged the Tigers’ dominance in wrestling in the last 22 years. And on Thursday night in Visalia it did it once again as Redwood High School edged Lemoore High for the West Yosemite League crown, despite Lemoore getting championship performances from several Tiger wrestlers.

Lemoore, prior to Thursday, has won 20 of the past 21 league titles. The only other team to win during that stretch? Redwood High School defeated the Tigers in 2014 to win the crown. The Rangers did it again Thursday, winning the overall WYL crown, beating the Tigers for the second time in three years, using a combined 11 points from dual matches and the WYL Championship tournament to defeat the Tigers by two points at Mt. Whitney’s Charles Marshall Court.

Lemoore actually won the league tournament with 213.50 points to Redwood’s 210. El Diamante finished third and Mt. Whitney fourth.

In in a way, it all came down to injuries and a full lineup card. “It was just the injuries we had and not having a full lineup (earlier in the season),” said Tiger Coach Marcio Botelho. “Last night it was nice that we had everybody back. It’s just unfortunate that we hadn’t had a full lineup.”

While the Tigers lost the overall WYL crown, they did capture the league tournament. “I like the fact that we came together and won the tournament,” he said.

If a couple of matches had gone differently, Lemoore would have won another outright championship.

WYL champs for Lemoore include Greg Guzman, who at 140 pounds defeated Mt. Whitney’s Jacob Tamez in the final after two free passes due to forfeits, and Angel Solis, a returning WYL champ, who at 184 easily beat Redwood’s Jeff Kelley 11-1 in a major decision. Solis beat West’s Josh Nuckles and El Diamante’s Dylan Mota for a spot in the finals.

Lemoore newcomer Gary Joint also captured his match for Lemoore, beating Hanford’s Ronnie Reyes at 128 pounds.  Enroute to his title, he beat Miguel Mendoza of Redwood in the opener and then pinned Hanford West’s Rashad Wilson to earn a spot in the title match.

Last year’s WYL champion Jacob Gonsalves failed to win in the 172-pound class, two classes higher than what he wrestled at least year, but did manage to place. He lost in the semis to Mt. Whitney’s Kevin Dowdy. “We had a lot of sophomores this year,” said Botelho, a lineup that included Gonsalves. Jacob lost a heartbreaker in the semifinals, but he came back to place. He’s wrestling two weight classes up from last year. It’s the toughest weight class in our league.”

Jose Lara finished fourth at 222 pounds while Noah Wright earned a second place spot in the heavyweight division.

Lemoore’s Christian Alvarez lost in the finals at 115 to Mt. Whitney’s Isaiah Almanza and at 154 pounds John Panduro also lost in the finals to Whitney’s Matthew Garcia. Lemoore’s Manny Collins, at 162, dropped his match to Hanford’s Isaiah Corona in the championship round.

Those who qualify at the WYL meet will now advance to the Yosemite Divisionals Feb. 19-20 at Clovis High School and from there qualifiers will advance to the Central Section Masters Feb. 27 at Lemoore High School.

The Tigers will advance 12 wrestlers to the Divisionals along with one alternate.

The State Wrestling Championships will again be held at Rabobank Arena in Bakersfield March 4-5. 

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