Romeo Medina has been wrestling with extra motivation this week.
Merced High School’s defending section champion is bouncing back from an unexpected loss at last week’s Central California Conference championships. The 152-pounder lost a controversial match against Atwater’s Johnny Juarez when the referee ruled Medina was pinned.
Even Juarez admitted he wasn’t sure he won after the final whistle.
“It was an eye-opener,” Merced coach Clayton Schneider said. “I’m not going to get too much into it. You’d rather it happen there at league than in the next couple weeks. He’s not happy, obviously. I don’t know who wouldn’t want to be league champion.”
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Medina and other area wrestlers are turning their attention to the Sac-Joaquin Section tournaments this week in the hope of advancing to next week’s Masters Tournament in Stockton.
For wrestlers from the Central California Conference, that means a long trip to Loomis for the SJS Division I-AA tournament at Del Oro High School. The two-day tournament starts today at 11 a.m. The top eight in each division qualify for Masters.
Wrestlers from the Western Athletic Conference will head to the Division IV tournament at Foothill High School. The Trans-Valley League and Southern League wrestlers head to Sonora for the Division V tournament.
“I just want to wrestle to my full potential, and I hope to move on,” senior Kenneth Hamel said. “Each mistake could cost you a match. It’s important to try not to make any mistakes.”
For Medina, getting over last week’s loss hasn’t been easy. He watches the match at least twice a day. If he doesn’t feel like running, he’ll watch the match and instantly get the energy to start pounding pavement.
“I’m trying to take a positive from it. It does motivate me,” Medina said. “A day like today when I’m dead tired – I think about that match and it pushes me to work hard.”
The loss will make the path a little tougher for Medina, who is ranked third in the section and 17th in the state. Instead of possibly meeting Folsom’s Jason Bergquist, ranked fourth in the section and 12th in the state, in the final, Medina would face him in the semifinals.
That doesn’t bother Medina.
“I was going to face him anyway,” he said. “I might as well get it over with in the semifinals.”
Basketball playoffs – When the Sac-Joaquin Section released the playoff brackets on Wednesday night, there wasn’t a lot of love shown toward the Central California Conference boys.
Both Merced (17-10) and Golden Valley (14-12) earned No. 19 seeds in Division I and II, respectively, and open with play-in games Friday on the road. League champion Turlock (15-10) only earned a 15 seed and will also host a play-in game Friday against No. 18 Edison.
“You’ve got to win games, that’s the bottom line,” Golden Valley coach Keith Hunter said. “Out of conference, we didn’t win a lot of games. To me, there’s nothing to cry about.”
Sun-Star staff writer Shawn Jansen can be reached at (209) 385-2462 or firstname.lastname@example.org.