Locals wrestle with success

TURLOCK -- As one of the final tournaments of the regular season, Pitman High's Rumble in the Jungle is viewed as a last chance by a lot of wrestlers.

Last chance to gain some momentum heading into the postseason. Last chance to win a tournament title. Last chance to win a varsity spot.

Waterford junior Erick Gomez has been a tournament runner-up several times this season. But Saturday evening, he came through with a second-period pin of Sonora's Matt Skinner in the 160-pound championship.

Gomez was one of 11 Stanislaus District wrestlers to win titles at the mostly local tournament.

Three Golden Valley wrestlers took home crowns: Davis Thao (112 pounds), Wyatt Anderson (145) and Daniel Lopez (171). The Cougars took the team title, outpacing runner-up Central Catholic 185.5-136.

Central Catholic had two champions: Steven Widmer (125) and Steel Rocha (135). Beyer also had two champs: brothers Jake (103) and Oliver Congleton (130).

Pitman senior Cesar Padilla was impressive in beating Beyer's Luis Rebolledo 15-2 in the 152-pound championship.

Gomez only led 1-0 late in the second period. He just beat the buzzer with a takedown in the final seconds, then opened the third period with back points en route to the win.

"(Skinner) had been at 171 pounds, so I knew he was cutting some weight," Gomez said. "I wanted to keep it close, keep the pressure on and hope I had the cardio."

Gomez entered the tournament coming off a loss in the Wildcats' Trans-Valley League dual meet against Mariposa.

"It was a big loss," he said. "I didn't know how I was going to do today. Matt's a strong guy; I'm pretty happy with the win."

Central Catholic's Rocha was tied in the final seconds of his 135-pound final against Summerville's Carson Gracia. And Rocha knew the final whistle was coming.

"I saw the timekeeper coming onto the mat with the watch," Rocha said. "He took a bad shot and I was able to take advantage."

Rocha countered Gracia's move with a takedown of his own, getting two back points in the final second and taking his first tournament championship of the season.

His teammate Steven Widmer was wrestling with a large mask to protect the broken nose he suffered during practice on Monday.

"I was practicing with David Ferry and T.J. Belton was working with one of our coaches," Widmer said. "T.J. kicked out of a move, hit David and his shoe hit me and broke my nose."

Widmer is unsure when he'll get cleared to wrestle without the mask.

"In an early round, one guy put his hand across my eyes, it was like I was blindfolded," he said. "But it doesn't bother me."

Beyer's Jake Congleton battled for the victory in his final, while Oliver caught Atwater's Juan Aguilar in a Figure Four for the pin.

Jake Congleton and Central Catholic's Tanner Feuerstein wrestled before, two years ago in eighth grade.

"He beat me in overtime," Jake Congleton said.

But this time, Congleton jumped out to a big lead -- 7-1 after two periods -- before Feuerstein roared back.

Feuerstein took Congleton down twice and also got reversal points in getting to 10-8 in the final seconds. Feuerstein got one more point due to a stalling call against Congleton, but that would be it.

"We've all been working hard in the room," Congleton said. "And now's the time to be at your best.

"I only made it to (section divisionals) last year. This year, I want to make it to state."