By Joseph Shufelberger/Special to Shasta County Sports
The first day of the Northern Section Masters Wrestling Championships didn’t yield much in the way of upsets, and that’s just the way West Valley’s Rocky Raby and Cade Lambert, and Foothill’s Earnest J. Wilson II wanted it to go.
The trio of No. 1 seeds in their respective weight classes dominated in each of their two bouts on Friday, setting themselves up for an even bigger Saturday when section titles and state berths are on the line. Masters wrestling coverage from the Redding Convention Center is presented by Redding Rancheria.
Eleven wrestlers from Shasta County advanced to the semifinals with five hailing from West Valley, helping the Eagles earn second place in the team standings behind front-runner Chico so far.
The meet’s second day is scheduled to start at 10 a.m. with finals expected to start at 4 p.m. on Saturday. Admission is $15 while students with an ASB card can get in for $7.
Seeking his third Masters title is Raby. Ranked ninth in the state by The California Wrestler, the West Valley senior had an abbreviated first day in the 154-pound weight class. He needed 28 seconds to register a pin of Sutter’s Tyler Parker before receiving a forfeit against Red Bluff’s Logan Marshall.
Next up for the Eagles’ standout is Durham’s Noah Petit in the semifinals.
At 162 pounds, Foothill’s Wilson earned a pin over his first foe in 3:48 before racking up a 17-2 technical fall over Chico’s Michael Bartos in the quarterfinal.
Wilson’s quickness benefited him in both of his victories, but he’s not taking anything for granted in his search for a second Masters title after claiming the 145 crown last year.
“Anyone is beatable,” he said. “This is the highlight of my season. I love wrestling in this arena, and it highlights all the work that we’ve done.”
Wilson takes on Durham’s Aaron Hernandez in the semifinals on Saturday.
West Valley’s Lambert looked like the best of the 184 class by first registering a fall in 56 seconds and earning an 8-0 major decision over Gridley’s Jesus Rangle in the quarterfinals.
Lambert’s semifinal foe is Red Bluff’s Seth Miller.
“We know each other pretty well,” Lambert said. “It’s going to be a good match. It’s the semifinals you’ve got to win.”
A second-place finisher a year ago, Lambert has his sights set firmly on first.
“This is my only goal this year,” he said.
West Valley’s Connor Edwards finished his two bouts at 128 with falls, pinning Corning’s Mikey Miller in 40 seconds before ending his quarterfinal in 4:32 with another.
Medaling twice before at Masters, the second-seeded Edwards wants his first state berth. The section sends two wrestlers per weight class to Bakersfield for next week’s state meet.
“It’d mean a lot,” Edwards said. “I’ve been working all year and all these hours I’ve been putting in hopefully they pay off tomorrow.”
First up for Edwards is Chico’s Rieker Pineda in the semifinals. Edwards already owns a decision victory over Pineda when the teams tussled in a dual earlier this season.
The other two West Valley wrestlers in the semis are second-seeded freshman Niall Raby (140) and third-seeded senior Jacob Johnston (172). Niall Raby notched nearly identical results, tallying falls in 2:50 and 2:56. Johnston had a pin in 3:45 before completing his day with a 6-0 decision.
“We’ve got a tough group of kids,” Lambert said of the Eagles’ squad that leads the Shasta County contingent entering Saturday’s action.
For Foothill, second-seeded Jodeah Wilson (184) joined his brother in the semifinals with a 10-5 decision before a pin in 5:22. The junior could face West Valley’s Lambert in an all-Shasta County final.
The third Foothill wrestler in the semis is Ben Vega-Sanchez (197) after he got falls in 40 seconds and 4:43. The third seed gets No. 2 Joel Lopez of Orland in the semifinal.
Shasta’s Aaron Bailey (128) and Jerry Fournier (140) gave the Wolves two semifinalists.
The fourth-seeded Bailey pinned both of his foes, the first being Oroville’s Taz Weaslebear in 48 seconds before getting another fall in the quarterfinals at 2:50.
The fifth-seeded Fournier advanced via a fall against Red Bluff’s Dylan Tumidanski in 3:52 and a 6-4 decision over Sutter’s D’Angelo Acosta.
Anderson’s Cody Crawford dominated his day, giving the Cubs’ their lone semifinalist. The third-seeded, 222-pounder needed 23 seconds to pin Burney’s Frank Rose and then pinned Sutter’s Jesus Gutierrez in 55 seconds in the quarterfinals. Crawford takes on second-seeded Scott Lewis of Modoc in the semifinals. Lewis had an even quicker day, receiving a forfeit before taking 17 seconds to win his quarterfinal with a pin.
Expected favorite Chico leads the chase for the team title thus far. The Panthers amassed 80.5 points after the first day with West Valley second with 68 and Corning third at 62. Durham is fourth with 57 while Sutter is fifth at 55.5.
Foothill’s 52 points are good for sixth with Orland in seventh at 51. After Esparto’s 42.5 is Shasta in ninth with 36. Modoc completes the top 10 with 31 points.
Anderson is tied with Paradise for 12th with 30 points. University Prep is 19th with 19.5 while Burney is 27th among 41 schools with 8.5 points. Fall River is 29th with six, Enterprise is 30th with four and Central Valley is 31st with three.
1-Chico 80.50 points
2-West Valley 68
11-East Nicolaus 30.5
12-(tied) Anderson, Paradise 30
14-Red Bluff 28
18-Pleasant Valley 20
19-University Prep 19.5
21-Live Oak 18
22-Las Plumas 17
23-(tied) Quincy, Willows 14
29-Fall River 6
31-Central Valley 3
32-(tied) Biggs, Wheatland 1
34 (tied) Big Valley, Greenville, Los Molinos, Mount Shasta, Portola, Tulelake, Winters, Dunsmuir 0.
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