Merced wrestler Taijeron captures 134-pound section title

sjansen@mercedsunstar.comFebruary 17, 2013 

— Mark Taijeron wanted to prove that last week wasn't a fluke.

The Merced junior left no doubt as he dominated in a 16-8 win over Turlock's Isaac Bertalotto in the 134-pound final of the Sac-Joaquin Section Division 1A Tournament on Saturday at Pitman High.

"It was important for me to show I can compete against state qualifiers," Taijeron said.

It was a very different match than last week's Central California Conference championship that saw a cautious Taijeron hold on for a 5-2 win. That victory avenged two earlier losses this season.

This time, it was Bertalotto out for revenge and the Turlock sophomore came out with a lot more energy early in the match. Every time there was a stop in action, Bertalotto sprang to his feet and raced back to the center of the mat, jumping up and down as he waited for the match to restart.

"We had talked about that," said Merced coach Clayton Schneider. "Mark had to weather the storm early and that's what he was able to do."

Bertalotto struck first with an early takedown in the first round.

However, Taijeron took over, scoring an escape and a takedown to take a 3-2 lead into the second round.

Taijeron's confidence seemed to grow as he starting scoring on shot after shot. Soon it was Taijeron leaping to his feet after every stoppage in action. Taijeron built an 8-4 lead with two more takedowns in the second round. He then put the match away with four more takedowns in the third round to score the major decision.

"After about the third takedown I felt pretty confident I could keep taking him down, so I started cutting him loose," Taijeron said. "I was able to get to his legs at ease."

Taijeron was one of 21 local wrestlers from the CCC to qualify for this week's Masters Tournament at Stockton Arena.

Golden Valley will send eight wrestlers to Stockton, including senior Cristian Vasquez, who finished third at 122 pounds. Merced (six wrestlers) and Buhach Colony (five) will also be well represented at Masters.

Atwater's Jo Jo Ochoa (194) also came away with a third-pace finish.

Atwater teammate Kyle Thorpe was the only other local wrestler to reach Saturday's final. Thorpe found out Folsom's Nick Feigener's state No. 2 ranking was no fluke.

The Folsom senior pinned Thorpe 17 seconds into the second round.

Thorpe injured his finger when Feigener took him down in the first round.

"I stood up and everything was going good," Thorpe said. "Then I felt him pick me up and take me down. When I came down my finger got caught underneath and bent a way it's not supposed to.

"I was focused on my finger and I didn't realize I was giving up near-fall points."

Division 4

LOS BANOS -- Los Banos High qualified six wrestlers for Masters, including Jimmy Felix (132) and Marcus Carrillo (152), who both finished second at the Division 4 Tournament on Saturday.

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