It was a day for visiting wrestlers and teams to really flex their muscles, but an Empire power showed signs of climbing back on top at the 18th annual Puma Classic at Maria Carrillo on Saturday.
Sac-Joaquin Section power Vacaville came west and steamed to the team title with 185 points. The Bulldogs were followed by five visiting schools.
Then came Healdsburg in the sixth spot with 101 points. Maria Carrillo was seventh with 99 points. It wasn’t long ago that the Greyhounds ruled Empire wrestling. Things have changed and senior Joel Anguiano feels good about Healdsburg.
“I think we’ve done really well given that we have a school with just 600 kids,” Anguiano said after defeating Las Lomas’ Max Amen 15-4 to win the individual title at 152 pounds. “I think we’re started to do what coaches tell us. They don’t baby us, and that’s the way to win.”
Healdsburg also came up with a title at 113 pounds when Dominic Montanez defeated host Carrillo’s Kai Addington, 4-2.
Montanez broke a 2-2 tie late in the third period, then maintained control.
“I just dug down really deep,” Montanez said. “I gave it everything I got and went for it at the end.”
El Molino’s Sam McDonnell won the championship at 152 pounds. He decisioned Granada’s Johnny Staile, 10-7. McDonnell pulled away late in the match.
“I started slow,” McDonnell, representing another growing Empire teams in El Molino. “He was a lot stronger than I expected. I had to use my speed and technique. They’re actually my strengths.”
One of the best matches in the finals featured Mission San Jose’s Jonathan Lin and Amador Valley’s Tyler Kline. Lin escaped after starting on the bottom in the third overtime period to win 2-1.
The championship round featured a near-capacity crowd with little to cheer for, as visiting wrestlers turned in the most impressive performances. One such effort was Inderkum’s Nehemiah Chapman’s 3-1 victory against Northgate’s Ian Moorford. Maria Carrillo’s Josh Groesbeck finished in third place in the weight division, defeating Livermore’s Dillon McNaney by fall in the third round.
Vacaville finished a dominating day when Mike McAuley won the 285-pound division by pin just 46 seconds into the match.
Lower Lake was 17th among teams with 59 points, followed by El Molino just one point back. Both were 40 points behind top finishers. Upper Lake was 20th.