10 area grapplers claim D-V crowns

LINDHURST -- It's a rivalry that began in the seventh grade, when Ryan Mackey and Charlie McDonald met on a baseball diamond.

It's continued through four years of high school, with the three-sport stars battling each fall (football), winter (wrestling) and spring (baseball).

As intense as it has been, however, their rivalry reached a new level in Saturday's Sac-Joaquin Section Division V wrestling championships.

Ripon High's Mackey reversed the previous week's setback with a thrilling, 3-1 overtime victory over his Escalon rival in the 171-pound final.

Mackey is ranked No. 3 among the section's 171-pounders. McDonald, who beat Mackey by a point at the Trans-Valley League Meet, is No. 4.

"I love having a guy like Charlie in the TVL because he pushes me, making me better," said Mackey, who is 3-3 vs. McDonald the last two years.

The rivals live just a few miles from each other, but they have never been as close as they were Saturday.

Three rounds and six minutes of wrestling produced little scoring -- each got a point in regulation on an escape, each breaking free from the other's grasp after starting the final two periods in the down position.

"I could see Charlie tiring, so I got aggressive in overtime, looking to shoot in," Mackey said. "I made sure not to open myself up, but when I got an opportunity, I went right after it."

As soon as he got into McDonald's body, Mackey spun around and wrapped his powerful arms around McDonald -- scoring two points a moment before the two slid out of bounds.

"I had a similar chance at the end of regulation, but the time ran out," Mackey said.

Mackey was one of 10 Stanislaus District athletes, including seven from Central Catholic, to capture section titles.

The top five at each weight go to the Masters Meet on Thursday and Friday at the University of the Pacific, where they'll mix with the top finishers from Saturday's five other divisional meets.

Central Catholic had finalists in nine of 14 weight classes and won the team crown before the finals even began.

Only three other schools -- Escalon (four), Bret Harte and Lindhurst (three) -- had more than two in the finals.

Central's T.J. Belton turned in his typically dominant performance, even if it lacked excitement. No. 2 in the section at 152 pounds, he won 9-2 over Bret Harte's Tyler Brown.

"Some guys wrestle not to get pinned, rather than wrestling to win. I'm used to it, so I don't get frustrated," said Belton, who won't have that problem next week against No. 1 Chris Urquizo of Merced. "I know a lot of people are looking forward to it, but we both have to get to the final first.

"When you get to Masters, a slip here or there can end the match. It can be that close."

It was that close Saturday for one of Belton's teammates, 119-pound Steve Widmer. He survived a third-round escape by Bret Harte's Devin Nanick to capture a 4-3 win.

Widmer is No. 8 in the section, making him the highest-ranked wrestler in his class, which made for a tight field.

"When you get to this time of the season, everyone starts to get closer," said the junior. "I wrestled the No. 1 (Fabian Garcia of Turlock) at the Big Valley Classic and lost 5-2. It should be close next week."

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