By Joseph Shufelberger, Special to Shasta County Sports
It would be difficult to pick the most thrilling finish from the Northern Section Masters Wrestling Championships as Saturday was full of them thanks to West Valley’s Connor Edwards and Rocky Raby, and Foothill brothers Jodeah Wilson and Earnest J. Wilson II.
Edwards gave West Valley its first champion of the day, pinning Sutter’s William Thornton with 5 seconds left in the 128-pound final and eliciting an eruption of Eagles both near and far from the two stories of the Redding Civic Auditorium.
“I’ve been working hard for this,” Edwards said. “It’s my last match in high school up in the North State. I let everything go, and I got it done.”
Coverage is sponsored by Redding Rancheria.
Edwards’ victory over the top-seeded Thornton from Sutter helped West Valley take second place in the team standings ahead of those same Huskies. The Eagles totaled 149.5 points to Sutter’s 144.5 over the two-day event.
VIDEO: West Valley’s Connor Edwards wins the 128-pound @NSCIF Masters #Wrestling Championship with a pin of Sutter’s William Thornton, erupting the Eagles’ side.
Coverage sponsored by @RRancheria. pic.twitter.com/h8KDXE1flm
— ShastaCountySports (@ShastaCoSports) February 23, 2020
Raby, meanwhile, added to his collection of trophies with his third Masters title of his prolific prep career. Despite dropping a few pounds recently due to illness, the West Valley senior was simply too much for Corning’s Tristan Bailey in the 154 final.
Ranked ninth in the state in his weight class by The California Wrestler, Raby raced to a 9-0 lead by the first period, racking up a takedown and a three-point near fall to start his dominant performance. He would lead 13-1 before the also ailing Bailey made the match 18-6. The Corning senior was forced to wear a mask to protect a fractured eye socket he suffered at the Division I meet last week.
But Raby, the weight class’ top seed, never let up in his pursuit of another championship. He led 22-7 with mere seconds left when Bailey couldn’t continue after earlier taking an injury timeout. Raby’s technical fall capped his last performance at the Masters, and he’s already eyeing the trip to Bakersfield.
“My whole goal this year is to place at state,” Raby said. “That’s everything I think of.”
Foothill’s Wilson brothers saw a roller coaster of a day that began with top-seeded Earnest J. Wilson II enduring a 5-2 setback to Durham sophomore Aaron Hernandez, the fourth seed, in the 160 semifinals.
But Jodeah Wilson set the Cougars on an upward trajectory in another final that went to the end.
Facing West Valley’s Cade Lambert for the 184 title, the second-seeded junior Wilson and the Eagles’ top-seed wrestled to a scoreless first period. Starting the second period from the down position, Wilson escaped for a 1-0 lead before Lambert did the same to start the third period, evening the score.
As the third and final period ticked down, Wilson found a two-point takedown and then held off Lambert with 5 seconds left, taking the title with a 3-2 decision to the delight of the Cougars’ crowd.
“I was nervous,” said Wilson, recalling his history with Lambert that included a one-point defeat at the divisional meet last week. “I got him this time.”
Wilson kept his hips out of Lambert’s reach, preferring a defensive approach in their rematch. The Foothill standout also found extra motivation with his brother’s earlier defeat.
“I wanted to do it for him,” he said. “I just gave him a hug and told him I’d do it for him and I did it.”
Then his senior brother gave the family another highlight in the true second-place match. The section sends two wrestlers per weight class to the state meet held in Bakersfield. If the runner-up and third-place finisher didn’t face each other in the tournament, they then wrestle to decide who goes to state.
The elder Wilson pinned Pleasant Valley’s Alex Pimentel in the first period to make Bakersfield a true family affair.
“Everyone fights through adversity somehow,” said the senior, who won a Masters title last year. “It was very humbling. I feel like I’m going to come back stronger.”
But he’s headed back to Bakersfield and he’s not going alone.
“That’s the best I’ve ever seen him wrestle,” he said of Jodeah. “It was good to see one of us at the top.”
That’s where Edwards found himself as well with the memorable 128 final.
Trailing 2-0, Edwards fought for an escape, barely beating the buzzer for the second period’s end.
He then fought his way through another escape in the third period, deadlocking the match at 2. The West Valley senior then kept going. He got a lead and then took Thornton over on his back, securing a pin as the Eagles jumped for joy and celebrated the championship.
“We had a plan on beating him,” Edwards said. “We’ve been working for a long time to win that match.”
Keeping Thornton within reach early on and win the title in the third period was precisely what Edwards aimed for and did.
“I’ve been working on quick bursts,” Edwards said. “All that hard work paid off.”
Anderson’s Cody Crawford couldn’t give Durham’s Jacob Christensen his first defeat of the year. The top-seeded Trojan pinned Crawford in 3:01 for the 222 title, improving to 48-0 on the season. Crawford, the multi-sport standout for the Cubs, will go to the state meet in Bakersfield next week with his runner-up finish.
West Valley’s Lambert, a football standout like Crawford, also has a state spot for his runner-up finish.
Durham’s Christensen is ranked No. 1 in the state and was chosen as the Most Outstanding Wrestler recipient by the section’s coaches. Orland’s Victor Perry was named the Coach of the Year.
Expected favorite Chico took the team title with 184.5 points ahead of West Valley and Sutter. Foothill finished fourth with 142.5 points while Orland was fifth with 142. Shasta earned eighth with 76.5, Anderson was ninth at 66.5 and University Prep tied Modoc for 10th with 65.
University Prep junior Caden Adams took third in the 154 class, but Corning’s Bailey rallied to a 7-3 decision in the true second-place match between the two.
Northern Section Masters Championships
1-Chico 184.5 points
2-West Valley 149.5
T10-University Prep and Modoc 65
13-East Nicolaus 56.5
16-Red Bluff 51
18-Pleasant Valley 40
20-Las Plumas 37
21-Live Oak 35
T28-Enterprise and Etna 7
30-Fall River 6
31-Central Valley 3
T32-Biggs and Wheatland 1
T34-Big Valley, Greenville, Los Molinos, Mount Shasta, Portola, Tulelake, Winters, Dunsmuir 0.
Top 6 medal
108 pounds-1, Gavin Smith, Chico; 2, Hunter Ludwig, Sutter; 3, Jose Mendez, Hamilton; 4, Dan Strain, Modoc; 5, Lukas Treat, Esparto; 6, Kyle Hurst, Shasta; 7, Tristan Vaillette, Red Bluff; 8, Edgar Alvarez, Durham.
115-1, David Rudkin, Chico; 2, Yousuf Zigan, Durham; 3, Jonathan Garcia, Orland; 4, Kevan Porter, Paradise; 5, Julian Lizardo, East Nicolaus; 6, Aiden Edwards, Oroville; 7, Talon Lomeli, Corning; 8, Tristan Marshall, Lassen.
122-1, Russell Nickerson, Quincy; 2, Brody Dollins, Sutter; 3, Liam Sehorn, Chico; 4, Jacob Benson, University Prep; 5, Stetson Morgan, Paradise; 6, Dalton Farnham, Esparto; 7, Paoge Vang, Enterprise; 8, Sam Allen, Corning.
128-1, Connor Edwards, West Valley; 2, William Thornton, Sutter; 3, Rieker Pineda, Chico; 4, Aaron Bailey, Shasta; 5, James Canfield, Anderson; 6, Carlos Gallardo, Foothill; 7, Michael Miller, Corning; 8, Alex Dominguez, Orland.
134-1, Dallas Stevens, Gridley; 2, Callum Kremer, Chester; 3, Dylan Boyer, Lassen; 4, Jacob Bergstrom, Foothill; 5, Eric Ledesma, East Nicolaus; 6, Joe Lor, Chico; 7, Loki Orduno, Corning; 8, C.J. Rosier, Shasta.
140-1, Bonner Montgomery, Chester; 2, Zane Kowalkowski, Durham; 3, Niall Raby, West Valley; 4, Jerry Fournier, Shasta; 5, Riley Roullette, Las Plumas; 6, D’Angelo Acosta, Sutter; 7, Gage James, Chico; 8, Frank Gregorio, Corning.
147-Brayden Schumann, Orland; 2, Alex Rudkin, Chico; 3, Jamison McKnight, Trinity; 4, Matt Goldschmidt, West Valley; 5, Calden Williford, Foothill; 6, Rocco Raker, Corning; 7, Zanden Rockenstein, Sutter; 8, Issac Lawrence, Esparto.
154-1, Rocky Raby, West Valley; 2, Tristan Bailey, Corning; 3, Caden Adams, University Prep; 4, Noah Petit, Durham; 5, Xavier Gower, Chico; 6, Bryant Bartlett, Foothill; 7, Logan Marshall, Red Bluff; 8, Efren Gonzalez, Willows.
162-1, Aaron Hernandez, Durham; 2, Alex Pimentel, Pleasant Valley; 3, Earnest J. Wilson II, Foothill; 4, Brenden Nye, University Prep; 5, Shawn Pagenkopp, Las Plumas; 6, Benjamin Fernandez, Orland; 7, Michael Bartos, Chico; 8, Alex McIntosh, Trinity.
172-1, J. JT Stinson, East Nicolaus; 2, Benicio Martinez, Orland; 3, Jacob Johnston, West Valley; 4, Savion Wilson, Foothill; 5, Jalen Johnson, Chico; 6, Cade Harner, Burney; 7, Ryan Hart, University Prep; 8, Asad Khan, Live Oak.
184-1, Jodeah Wilson, Foothill; 2, Cade Lambert, West Valley; 3, Seth Miller, Red Bluff; 4, Justin Burns, Esparto; 5, Derek Lord, Shasta; 6, Hayden Canalia, Orland; 7, Tad Hervey, Chico; 8, Rannon Nicholas, Lassen.
197-1, Maximus Gipson, Sutter; 2, Joel Lopez, Orland; 3, Ben Vega-Sanchez, Foothill; 4, Jack Sites, Willows; 5, Alex Olson, Modoc; 6, Paulo Fernandez-Smith, Las Plumas; 7, Sergio Padilla, Paradise; 8, Colton Brewer, Red Bluff.
222-1, Jacob Christensen, Durham; 2, Cody Crawford, Anderson; 3, Scott Lewis, Modoc; 4, Jesus Gutierrez, Sutter; 5, Alax Avina, Gridley; 6, Jacob Watt, Shasta; 7, Dennis Stenholm, Esparto; 8, Isaiah Sema, West Valley.
287-1, Dillon Bailey, Corning; 2, Jon Widener, Live Oak; 3, Cruz Jauregui, Pleasant Valley; 4, Angel Bravo, Orland; 5, Marcus Trotter, Anderson; 6, Cody Sphar, Modoc; 7, Ulisses Alvarez, Sutter; 8, Jacob Fowler, Chico.
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