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Bulldogs control the mat

TURLOCK -- The Turlock High wrestling team has won eight Central California Conference championships in the last nine years.

Wednesday night, the Bulldogs took a big step toward No. 9.

Turlock won eight of the first 10 matches, five of them by pin, in a convincing 45-21 victory over Golden Valley at the Turlock High Old Gym. The match began at 171 pounds -- the meat of the Bulldogs lineup -- and the big guys didn't disappoint.

Johnny Gutierrez won his match by decision, then Taylor Mobley (189 pounds) and Marco Delgado (215 pounds) pinned their opponents, giving Turlock a 15-0 lead after the first three contests.

"You couldn't have drawn a better weight for us," Turlock coach Mike Contreras said.

Delgado, who pinned Cory Glass near the end of the first period, knew it was important to take the early lead.

"We felt the match was going to be really close," Delgado said. "It was a great way to start out. We had all the momentum."

And even when it appeared Golden Valley was coming back, the Bulldogs slammed the door.

The Cougars got on the board when heavyweight Richard Cullen pinned Greg David. That was followed by the surprise of the night -- Ben Weber's 3-2 victory over Brandon Egleston at 103 pounds. Egleston was coming off a Big Valley Classic title last weekend.

"That was our highlight," Golden Valley coach Chopper Mello said. "We thought we'd turned the corner. But they got it right back at 112 (pounds)."

That was where Jose Zuniga pinned David Thao 4:41 into the match. Zuniga's pin sparked a five-match run of victories by the Bulldogs. The final victory of that streak -- a pin by Nelson Valdovinos at 135 pounds -- sealed the victory for Turlock.

During that stretch, Contreras switched his normal 119- and 125-pounders in a move that paid off. Robert Vasquez, normally at 125s, beat Sia Thao at 119s. And state-ranked 119-pounder Fabian Garcia moved up and pinned Jimmy Farias.

"That was a smart move that worked out for them," Mello said.

It likely means another league championship for Turlock, although Contreras isn't willing to go quite that far.

"They were undefeated, we were undefeated," he said. "We still have a lot of tough matches to go, but we all knew this one was big."

The two teams finished 1-2 in the CCC race last year, and Mello's Cougars have defeated most of the remaining challengers.

"This was for the CCC title, right here," Mello said. "Turlock's the best team in the league. They proved it tonight. They earned it."

Bee staff writer Will DeBoard can be reached at wdeboard@modbee.com or call 578-2300.

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