Sports

Who'd of thunk it

STOCKTON -- Chopper Mello jumped out of his seat and paraded around the floor with fists held high, looking for someone to hug.

Meanwhile, Jack Anderson hardly moved from his spot at the center of mat.

The Golden Valley dynamo wanted to enjoy this -- the cheers, the spotlight and the win -- if only for a moment more.

This was the championship no one expected.

Not Mello or star pupil Anderson, who shocked Casa Robles' Ben Mandell in the 130-pound final of the Sac-Joaquin Section Masters Tournament on Friday at the Spanos Center.

"Speechless. Disbelief. I don't know how to explain it," Anderson said. "I still can't believe I won. I wasn't expecting anything to really happen.

"I mean, I wanted to go to state -- and I accomplished that (Thursday) -- but I wasn't expecting to be a champion."

It happened in thrilling fashion.

Trailing by one in the final period, Anderson took a 7-5 lead with a series of near-falls. He nearly pinned Mandell with a minute to go with a move he called the "Cooper."

"That's a Golden Valley tradition right there," Anderson said of the finishing maneuver. "It's kind of a move I've perfected."

Mandell wouldn't go quietly, though, regaining control with a reversal. But his hold wouldn't last long.

Anderson countered with his own reversal with 22 seconds left, icing a 9-5 victory.

"He beat some quality opponents. His weight class was loaded," Mello said. "Coming in, if you told me that Jack was going to win it all, I'd say you were crazy.

"There were some tough guys here."

Anderson became the first section champion in Golden Valley's 13-year history. Ramiro Lugo (215) and Jake Chastain (140) finished second in 1999 and 2005, respectively.

The day wasn't so pleasant for the other locals still in the hunt.

Merced lightweight Ray Valenzuela came into Friday's action waiting to see if he'd make it to Bakersfield, the site of next week's CIF State Championships.

After a full day of wrestling, the 119-pound junior is still waiting.

Valenzuela took a controversial loss to Stagg's Charlie Seang in the seventh-place match.

With the score tied at 6-6 after three periods and headed to overtime, officials awarded a two-point takedown -- and the victory -- to Seang.

"They counted his takedown. It shouldn't have been a takedown," Valenzuela said. "I don't know what happened.

"I got a medal, but I'm not going to state -- and that's all that matters."

The loss bumped Valenzuela down to eighth place, one spot removed from a state berth. Now he'll turn his focus to today's Oakland section tournament.

If the Oakland section can't field a competitor in the 119-pound weight division, Valenzuela will fill the void.

"This isn't how we wanted to do it," Merced coach Clayton Schneider said.

Andrew Vander Poel finished fourth in 215s.

After cruising into the semifinals on Thursday -- clinching a state bid -- the Los Banos senior was pinned in two of his final three matches.

The last left him bloodied and bothered.

Ponderosa's Dominic Demarco erased a two-point deficit with a pin at the 3:07 mark.

"I wanted to win bad," said Vander Poel, wiping his bloody lip. "It was just simple mistakes. It's over now. I've got to get ready for next week."

James Burns is a Sun-Star sports reporter. He can be reached at 385-2417 or via e-mail at jburns@mercedsun-star.com.

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