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It was a banner year in Bakersfield for SJS wrestlers, as a total of 20 reached the podium. By JIM McCUE | Senior Contributor...

It was a banner year in Bakersfield for SJS wrestlers, as a total of 20 reached the podium.

By JIM McCUE | Senior Contributor

The Sac-Joaquin Section wrestlers turned some heads and made plenty of noise at the CIF State Wrestling Championships at Rabobank Arena in Bakersfield last weekend. A total of 20 section wrestlers medaled (the top 8 finishers in each of the 14 weight classes receive medals), including three who won individual state championships.

“I knew that we had some superstars in our section this year,” said Vacaville coach Adam Wight of the section’s performance. “What we’re missing, though, is more team depth. Back in 2005, the section had seven champions and multiple teams in the top 10.”

To be exact, seven individuals from the section did win state titles in 2005, while Vacaville was among five SJS schools in the top 10 of the team standings that year. By contrast, the Bulldogs were the lone SJS team to finish in the top 10 as Vacaville placed third overall behind Clovis and Poway. Folsom was the next highest SJS team finisher in 14th.

Leading the way for the Bulldogs was junior Jeramy Sweany, who won the 195-pound championship by pinning fellow SJS participant Scott Votino of Elk Grove. Teammate Gionn Peralta took second place after falling 11-10 in an action-packed match at 106 pounds.

“Gionn’s match was a barn-burner, and I still don’t necessarily feel that we lost that match,” Wight said. “It was a great match to start the finals. It was truly electric.”

As the matches progressed under the spotlight on the arena floor with heavier weight divisions throughout Saturday night, the section continued to rack up medalists. The other section grapplers that headed home from Bakersfield with state titles were senior Peter Santos (170 pounds) of Oakmont-Roseville and freshman Israel Saavedra (113 pounds) of Modesto. 

Bella Vista 152-pounder Shayne Tucker, who finished second in 2012 at 138 pounds, again left the state tournament with a runner-up finish. While the senior may have returned home disappointed, Tucker is a rare wrestler with back-to-back state final appearances.

“Being a state champion is rare,” Wight said of the near-misses by Tucker and three other SJS qualifiers. “There are lots of coaches who have never had a kid reach a final, let alone win a state title. The margin of error is small.”

Wight has coached five of Vacaville’s 11 state champions through the years, including Sweany and last year’s heavyweight champ Johnny Schupp. Having seen his share of top wrestlers in the Bulldogs’ storied program, he believes that Sweany and Peralta may leave an impressive legacy with both having one more year of competition on the mat.

“They will be in the conversation of the greatest all-time wrestlers from our program,” he said. “Jeramy has a chance to be our first back-to-back state champ, and Gionn could become the first four-time state medalist for Vacaville.”

Sweany was dominant at 195 pounds, winning three of his five matches by pin and never really being threatened during his run to the title. The closest any opponent got to Sweany was a 3-1 win over Murrieta Valley’s Nick Johnson in the semifinals. Despite his dominance, the 195-pound junior was more concerned with the Bulldogs’ team standing than his own finish in Bakersfield.

“We had very high expectations as a team,” Sweany said. “Our team goal was to ‘plaque,’ and I knew that I needed to win my final match to keep us from falling to fourth place.”

At 195 pounds, the SJS had its greatest results with the top three finishers from the Section Masters Championships earning the first three spots on the podium in Bakersfield. Sweany won both the Section Masters and state while Votino and Ripon’s Trevor Smith flip-flopped their second- and third-place finishes in the section and state tourneys.

Folsom junior Nick Fiegener won at the Section Masters and advanced to the state final, but met a buzz-saw in the form of Lemoore’s Isaiah Martinez. Martinez, also a junior, pinned Fiegener in the final to give him his third state championship in as many years.

If Fiegener and other SJS wrestlers hope to improve their standing as a section in 2014, they will have to catch up to the powerful Central and Southern Sections. The Central Section boasts 2013 team champion Clovis and a number of perennial powers, including Bakersfield and Lemoore, from the communities dotting the Central Valley. The Southern Section has upwards of 500 member high schools, making it a power by virtue of its sheer numbers.

“I think that we lived up to our standing as the third-best section in wrestling in California, and we’re proud of that,” Wight said. “But we need to continue to work as a program and as a section to get better and deeper.” 



106 — 2. Gionn Peralta (Vacaville), Jr.; 8. Nico Colunga (Oakdale), Soph.

113 — 1. Israel Saavedra (Modesto), Fr.

126 — 5. Victor Trujillo (Bella Vista), Sr.

132 — 8. Isaac Bertalotto (Turlock), Soph.

145 — 6. Lorenzo De la Riva (Folsom), Soph.

152 — 2. Shayne Tucker (Bella Vista), Sr.

160 — 2. Nick Fiegener (Folsom), Jr.; 3. Ray Lomas IV (Central Catholic-Modesto), Sr.; 7. Justin Brown (Calaveras), Sr.

170 — 1. Peter Santos (Oakmont), Sr.

182 — 4. Nick Troquato (Ponderosa), Sr.; 6. Chris Lai (Vacaville), Sr.

195 — 1. Jeramy Sweany (Vacaville), Jr.; 2. Scott Votino (Elk Grove), Sr.; 3. Trevor Smith (Ripon), Sr.

220 — 6. Jordan Sepeda (Natomas), Sr.

285 — 4. Tyler Hecht (Franklin-Elk Grove), Sr.; 7. Jeff Camilli (Ponderosa), Sr.; 8. Jaharee Taylor (Elk Grove), Sr.

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