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Qualify or go home for Central California Conference wrestlers

TURLOCK -- Chopper Mello has seen the intensity level increase in the wrestling room this week.

It's nothing new to the Golden Valley wrestling coach.

Mello experiences it every year.

Wrestlers know starting this week, one bad day can end their year.

The wrestling postseason begins today with the Central California Conference Championships at Pitman High.

Action is scheduled to start at 10 a.m. The finals should start around 4 p.m.

"These are the last wrestle-offs of the year in our room and they've been the most intense," Mello said.

"We have young guys trying to win spots and we have seniors who aren't going."

The top four wrestlers in each weight division advance to next week's Sac-Joaquin Division I South championship.

The ultimate goal is to get to the state meet in Bakersfield in three weeks.

"We have guys that have been in the room for three or four years," said Buhach Colony coach Eric Osmer said. "They know that the second half of the season starts now and some of them have worked for this their whole life.

"There is a lot of stress and anticipation. There is a lot of emotion in that room."

For some of the elite wrestlers like Merced's Chris Urquizo, today's tournament serves as a warm-up for the bigger tournaments in the coming weeks.

For some, today is about survival.

Year in and year out, the CCC is one of the toughest leagues in the section. Finishing in the top four isn't easy.

"Absolutely," Mello said. "We have a young team. We don't have that many seniors.

"Only the top four move on. To practice next week is a privilege. You have to earn that right.

"We've seen it in our challenge matches in our room that anyone can have a bad day.

"We try to move on as many as we can."

Royal Rumble

Central California Conference wrestlers will be wrestling for the right to extend their season.

WHEN: Today, at 10 a.m.

WHERE: Pitman High School

WHAT'S AT STAKE: Top four wrestlers in each weight class advance to divisionals. Everybody else goes home.