Despite not having a full lineup, the Antioch Panthers finished in eighth place out of 53 teams with 116.5 points. Additionally, two of their wrestlers, senior Lucas Hudson and junior Kyle Clark, won their individual weight classes. Despite admitting that he felt out of shape for the match, Clark expected to win the 215-pound class. Hudson, who wrestles in the 171-pound class, won the most exciting match of the final round, defeating Adam Busch of Castro Valley 7-5.
When the two matches surrounding the 171-pound final were done, all eyes shifted to Busch and Hudson. Hudson had a vocal crowd behind him, and he did not disappoint.
“I knew for a fact that it was going to be a close match because I faced him last year and he beat me. I’ve pretty much been working all break just to beat him,” said Hudson. “I was hoping to win, not so much expecting. Nothing is for sure in wrestling; it can always go either way.”
Aside from Hudson and Clark, the Panthers also had senior Marcus Johnson reach the finals in the 135-pound class. Another notable local wrestler was Heritage senior Clayton Hambrick. The Patriots finished 23rd in the team competition with 65.5 points. Hambrick, who was the runner-up in the 160-pound class, was their highest individual finisher.
Like Antioch, Liberty sent three wrestlers to the individual finals, seniors Cody Krimm, Nico Serrano, and Jesse Baldazo. Krimm (140 pounds) and Serrano (145 pounds) each lost their finals matches but Baldazdo, wrestling in the 152-pound class, decisively won his final, giving the team champions their only individual winner.
“I thought it went pretty well. I was preparing for my match, watching him, studying him. You can’t mess up there,” said Baldazo.
Freedom was the only Bay Valley Athletic League team to not participate in the tournament. Despite having no boys reach the finals, Pittsburg finished in 20th place. Their girls team did notch a top-10 finish. Three Pirate girls – Sonia Smith (108 pounds), Marissa Gonzales (118 pounds) and Danielle Wilson (189 pounds) – made the finals. Deer Valley’s boys team finished in 46th place with 6.5 points.
Lions head coach Greg Chappel was generally pleased with his team. Liberty will next go to Reno for a tournament where the coach expects Baldazo to see tougher competition.
Chappel also noted the performance of freshman Johnny Zanarini, who finished fourth in the 112-pound class despite being unranked. Shawn Whalen, who is coming off on a bad shoulder injury, also got the attention of his coach with a seventh place finish in the 171-pound class. Krimm was another pleasant surprise, finishing in second place despite a pre-tournament ranking of 11.
“I felt that we had a good tournament. I always feel that we could do better; I am never satisfied,” said Chappel. “One time, I had a kid win state and he said ‘Coach, you said if I won state you wouldn’t yell at me.’ I said, ‘Yeah, I lied.’ But I was pleased. We’ve got some young kids that really did well.”