By Tom Price Jr.
One Exeter wrestler was unable to shake and old foe and another had higher ranked competitors shaking their heads with a stunning performance Friday and Saturday at the California State Championships in Bakersfield.
Anthony Torres fought his way into medal contention in the 125-pound weight class from an out-bracket position and eventually finished eighth. He started Friday with wins over Larry Medina the No. 2 wrestler out of the Southern Section, Jamie Lopez from Rockland and Jose Herrera the No. 3 wrestler from the San Diego Section. He lost his final match of the day, a 4-0 decision to Marcos Orozco the No. 2 wrestler in the San Joaquin Section. His day one performance set up a crucial match Saturday for a chance to medal in the tournament. He handled Luis Pallanes of Santa Ana Valley 12-0 and secured the eight spot. He lost his final two matches against Teddy Astorga the No. 1 wrestler out of the Southern Section (pin 4 minutes, 14 seconds) and to Joaquin Carlos the No. 2 wrestler from the Central Coast Section (6-4 decision).
"I wasn't expecting to place, I was just confident that I was going to wrestle my best and wanted to try and make it to the second day," Torres said. "After I beat [Medina] that boosted my confidence, I figured if I could beat him I can hang in there with anybody."
The junior wrestler plans to compete for the top spot in the state next year and his coach Joe Conley thinks no goal is too high for the young wrestler.
"It is just a confidence thing with him," Conley said. "If he realizes how good he is and that when you get down to the top eight kids they are pretty tough competitors."
Oscar Botello was eliminated from the competition after losing to Johnny Coronado from Firebaugh by way of pin and falling to Coby Fielding of Buchanan. The 11-9 decision was the third time Botello had lost to Fielding this year. He dropped a 4-3 decision at the Masters Tournament and a 5-4 decision at the Sequoia-Sierra Division Tournament.
"He should have won that match," Conley said. "Oscar had taken him down four times and was on a roll but one mental lapse cost him the match."
Sophomore Dan Weatherly made his second trip to the State Championships and finished with a 1-2 record. He posted a 15-0 win over Shelby Tran from Galileo.
Torres' medal was the first for Exeter since 1996 when Anthony Miller finished eighth in the 189-pound weight class. With himself and Weatherly returning next year Torres hopes he will be sharing podium time with his teammates.
"It feels good that I have done it and maybe I can start the momentum for more wrestlers next year," Torres said.
"Getting this far this year makes me want to push harder for next year."