ATWATER- Eight wrestlers from each weight bracket were permitted to advance from the CIF Sac-Joaquin Section Division III boys finals and the CIF Sac-Joaquin Section South Regional Girls Finals.

Patterson took seven wrestlers to the Division III boys finals. Six of the seven boys wrestlers punched their tickets to the Master Meet held at Delta College from Feb. 15-16 in Stockton.

With only seven wrestlers in attendance, Patterson put together a fifth-place finish as a team, with 116.5 points. Oakdale (295), Vista del Lago (217), El Capitan (161) and Ponderosa (117) finished ahead in the standings.

“We were ecstatic to hear our team called over the loudspeaker announcing we were in fifth place,” head coach Artie Rivera said via email. “We are few, but we are strong and hard-working; ready to wrestle whoever you put in front of us. We missed the fourth place spot by half a point. I love walking into a gym and hearing other teams talking saying ‘Oh there’s Patterson -- they’re tough.’ That’s a great feeling.”

Junior Brisa Salas was Patterson’s lone female wrestler to compete at the South Regional finals held at Central Valley High over the weekend. Salas finished in fourth place overall in the 162-pound division behind Alexa Garcia (Sierra), Linda Pelayo (Los Banos) and Jasmine Blount (Chavez).

This is Salas’ second time qualifying for Masters.

“We are very proud of her. We started with eight girls this season and dwindled down to just one. She has been putting in the work in the (wrestling) room and at the tournaments that we could get her. It’s really hard because we don’t have the coaching staff to take her to all the girls-only tournaments. We have to find the ones that are offered for both JV boys and girls,” head coach Artie Rivera said via email. “Every day she is in the room she is getting better. Her shots look better; her defense looks better. We are excited to see what this week has in store for her and hoping to get her to state.”

First time Masters Meet qualifiers junior Aaron Botkin and freshman Jesse Cota will be making their maiden voyages this season.

Botkin earned his spot with a second-place finish in the 220-pound weight class. He defeated Liam Ferguson (Nevada Union), Lucas Kaiser (Rio Americano) and Ben Molina (Oakdale), before losing to Anakin Highsmith (Rio Linda) in the championship match.

Cota continues to reach for new heights in his first year wrestling for the Tigers. He defeated Logan Moon (Placer) before hitting a roadblock with a loss to Brandon Abell (Oakdale) in his second match of the tournament.

Cota claimed back-to-back wins over Lucan Chao (Lincoln) and Colby Cerros (Ponderosa), but lost to Joseph Pia (El Capitan) by a 6-2 decision. Cota ended his tournament run on a good note by defeating Moon for the second time by decision to take 5th place overall.

“We are very excited that we added two more wrestlers to take to masters this year. They put in a lot of hard work this season and deserve to be going, especially Jesse as a freshmen and Aaron as a first-timer, to see what they will be getting into the next few years,” said Rivera.

Senior Noah Mirelez put together three straight wins, to set up a finals rematch against Henry Porter of Oakdale, #1 in the state in the 132-pound division.

Noah defeated Porter in their last meeting at the C.I.T Tournament in January, but Porter got the best of the rematch between the two at the Division III finals. Noah would have to settle for second place behind Porter, following a tightly contested 10-7 decision loss on Saturday. Perhaps a third match between the two talented grapplers is on the horizon at the Masters Meet in Stockton. Only time will tell.

A loss in his second match of the tournament meant senior Mokbel Obied would not have a shot at a 120-pound title, but Obeid recovered with a pair of decision victories over Nathaniel Briones (Golden Valley) and Dylan Duncan (Vista del Lago) to claim third place and advance to Masters.

Obeid qualified for the State Championship last year, and will look to match that achievement next week.

Junior Adrian Barrera took a similar path on Friday and Saturday. Barrera pinned AJ Ferreira (Placer) in his first match, but then lost to eventual 113-pound champion Michael Torres (Oakdale) by majority decision in his second bout.

Barrera went on to defeat Merrick Landley (Ponderosa), and pinned Ferreira for a second time to earn a third-place spot on Saturday. This is Barrera’s second time qualifying for the Masters Meet, in his third year wrestling for Patterson.

With a 5-1 record, sophomore Chase Mirelez had a long road to his third-place finish over the weekend.

Chase defeated Brendan Ramos (Sierra) by pin fall in his opening bout, but dropped his second match to Levi Burnett (Vista del Lago) by decision, to drop out of championship contention.

He then outscored Brandon Prentice (Ponderosa) by majority decision before pinning Tyler Diaz (East Union). Chase earned his second majority decision, toppling Julian Andy Pena (Merced) 9-0. He then laid claim to third place, with a 15-11 decision victory over Stephen Lundquist (Oakmont) in the 126-pound weight class. This is Chase’s second time in two years making it to Masters. Last year Chase was very close a state championship berth, and will look to improve on that finish at Delta College.

Senior Francisco Duran competed in the 145-pound division, but was not able to get a top-eight finish to advance to Masters. He began with a loss to Erik Johnson (Vista del Lago) by pin fall, but defeated Anthony Salcedo (East Union) to stay alive in the tournament. Unfortunately for the senior, his road would end when he lost to Trevor Hagy (Rio Americano) in his third match to be eliminated from contention.

PI sports writer

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