By Tom Price Jr.
The patch on Matt Gonzalez's letterman's jacket reads "Co-East Sequoia League Champion."
H and the other returners from last year's Exeter wrestling team wanted a patch all to their own this year. Undefeated in league dual meets and a first place finish in the ESL wrestling meet over the weekend gave them just that.
"We really didn't want to get another co-champ patch," Gonzales said. "We had to rise to the occasion, we went through the season and approached every team the same way, we didn't want to overlook anybody."
Exeter had four wrestlers win the top spot in their weight class on the way to a 201-point team score. Dinuba followed with a score of 168.5 and last year's co-champion Woodlake finished third with a score of 136.
Anthony Torres defeated Daniel Pinedo from Dinuba in the championship match of the 125 pound weight class, Daniel Weatherly dropped Mario Sanchez from Woodlake to win the 130 pound weight class, Matt Gonzales captured the 135 pound weight class by defeating Gus Gutierrez from Dinuba and Oscar Botello beat Andres Garcia from Orosi to win the 145 pound weight class for Exeter.
The Monarchs are peeking heading into the Small School Championship starting Friday in Farmersville.
"I think we are healthy right now and we seem to be pretty fresh," Exeter coach Joe Conley said. "The small school championship is really up for grabs. Firebaugh, Washington Union, us and Shafter all have a legitimate shot at winning it."
Gonzales is looking forward to the chance to not only succeed at the Small School Championships, but to also return to the Masters Tournament where he dropped his only two matches. The Masters Tournament is a tournament that takes the top seven wrestlers in each weight class in the Divisional Championships and pits them together in one section-wide meet.
"I definitely want to get back there," Gonzales said. "It is big time motivation for me."
On Wednesday the Monarchs finished their final dual meet of the season by defeating Woodlake 57-14. Botello started things off in the first match by defeating Rafa Urena in the 150-pound weight class. Botello, who usually wrestles in the 145-pound weight class, struggled with the heavier Urena who finished first in the ESL Wrestling Meet.
The pivotal match came down to the final seconds before Botello held on to win 5-4.
"I expected it to be a tough match because [Urena] is a good wrestler he is real tough," Botello said. "Usually the first match sets the tone for everybody else, it was important for me to win."
Exeter got wins from Coy Hulsey, Matt Wells, Joey Abscher, Mike Powell, Kevin Skaff, Torres, Weatherly, Gonzales and Timblin.