San Benito Shooting for Second

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Haybalers hope to outduel Los Gatos for CCS runner-up
Hollister – San Benito doesn’t have any delusional thoughts as it prepares for the Central Coast Section wrestling championships, which begin at 10am today at Independence High.

The Haybalers, who are ranked third in the section, aren’t hoping or expecting to beat top-ranked Gilroy, which seems a lock for its fifth straight title.

Instead, San Benito has its eye on Los Gatos – the CCS’s No. 2 ranked team – and finishing in front of the Wildcats to earn second place.

While San Benito will bring 12 wrestlers to the CCS meet – which continues at 10am Saturday at Overfelt High – Los Gatos enters the tournament with a section-high 14 entries.

“Our backs are definitely against the wall,” ‘Balers’ coach Matt Olejnik said. “We have to wrestle the best tournament of the year. If we take second, that means we wrestled one fine tournament. But that’s still the goal. The kids are aware of it.”

The ‘Balers are handcuffed at 127 pounds, where sophomore Geo Coelho had to sit out the Tri-County Athletic League finals with a shoulder injury he suffered at Mid-Cals. Danny Garcia filled Coelho’s spot at TCALs and qualified for CCS, but it will be tough to replace a wrestler who was ranked 14th in the section prior to the league meet.

“We’re not the team we were,” Olejnik said.

Leading the charge for San Benito is Fernando Lucatero (162 pounds) and Junior Davila (105).

Despite falling in the TCAL semifinals to Palma’s Max Panziera, Lucatero still managed to maintain the top seed in CCS and goes in as the favorite to win the section title, or at least earn a top-four finish to advance to the CIF State Championships.

Davila, a freshman, is also favored to make his first trip to the state tournament. While battling an illness, he defaulted in the TCAL finals to finish second, but still heads to CCS as the second seed.

“In an ideal world, Junior and Fernando would be in there (at state),” Olejnik said. “Josh Ramirez will have to beat some guys who already beat him and the sleeper is Luis Barocio at 135 pounds.”

Ramirez is the ‘Balers third and final seeded wrestler, with the sophomore gaining the sixth seed at 154 pounds.

Olejnik is also looking for Buddy Barraza (heavyweight), Ryan Cowell (215) and Enrique Lucatero (147) to possibly up their placing and make it into the top-six to help the ‘Balers achieve that second-place finish.

“We’ve had a good week in practice,” Olejnik said. “Everyone’s healthy and ready to go.”

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