Wrestling: Balers fare well in own tourney

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The Balers' Ishmael Medina works his opponent during the Fehlman/Baxter Tournament last Saturday.

San Benito High wrestling coach Steven Salcedo had plenty of reasons to be excited after the team hosted the Fehlman/Baxter Tournament on Dec. 12. The Haybalers went 3-2 in the six-team tournament, with each team facing off in a dual format. San Benito recorded wins over College Park-Pleasant Hill, North Salinas and Ripon while dropping matches to Atascadero and Clovis.
“I’ve seen our team grow and leaders start to take shape,” Salcedo said. “We still have a lot of room to grow, as we’re making a lot of rookie mistakes and doing some foolish things that come from inexperience. But the guys have shown enough where I’m just really happy with the program overall.”
Salcedo said Michael Camacho, Miguel Puga and Vincent Jacinto are starting to emerge as some of the leaders on the team. Jacinto made a big impression, going a perfect 5-0 in the 126-pound class. In the Balers’ final match of the tournament against Clovis, Jacinto was down several points entering the third and final period before he recorded a pin for a dramatic victory.
Salcedo was particularly excited about Jacinto, who as a freshman represents the future of the San Benito program.
“Vince is one of those kids who has been wrestling for most of his life,” Salcedo said. “He is definitely one of our most experienced wrestlers. He’s very technical, hard working and doesn’t give up. He definitely showed that in his last match. To see him come back like that was awesome. I’m really proud of the way he’s been wrestling.”
Camacho has picked up right where he left off from last season, when he was one of the team’s top performers. Wrestling in the 195-pound division, Camacho went 4-0 (one team didn’t field a wrestler in his weight class), winning in dominant fashion.
“I believed he pinned each one of his opponents,” Salcedo said. “I expect Michael to be one of our section placers and possibly a state competitor.”
Puga went 4-1 wrestling in the 220-pound division. However, his one defeat came at heavyweight, as he was bumped up a class to fill a need. The junior has impressed with his ability to compete en route to a sixth-place finish in the highly competitive Rumble for the Rig Tournament in Bakersfield two weeks ago.
“He’s got a takedown move called the Prescott, and he just about gets everybody with it,” Salcedo said. “It’s his signature move, and he’s kind of perfected it where it’s become his bread and butter. But most impressive is his 4.167 GPA. He takes care of business in the classroom as well, and that’s something all student-athletes should strive for.”
The Balers also received a huge boost from two of its junior varsity wrestlers who competed in the tournament. Junior David Funderburg, who was competing at 113 pounds, won a couple of matches, including the final contest that clinched the winning points against Ripon.
“We needed a pin to win, and David did just that,” Salcedo said. “He did it with probably one of the meanest head and arm throws I’ve ever seen. He threw this kid completely upside down.”
Sophomore Enrique Ojeda, who usually wrestles at 220, fared well even though he was bumped up to heavyweight.
“Enrique won his matches through hard work and determination,” Salcedo said. “It was nice to get a contribution from a couple of kids who weren’t expected to wrestle much on that day.”
The Balers don’t compete again until Jan. 2, when they wrestle in the Pirate Invitational in Pittsburg. Salcedo said the team will be hard at work until then refining their technique and developing even more stamina and endurance.
“It was a great weekend of wrestling for us,” Salcedo said. “We had a lot of kids gain mat experience for the first time in a competitive environment, and that will only help us going forward.”

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