Three wrestlers battle through to Bakersfield

Jankovich gets past Elliott at Masters
By: Kurt Johnson, The Press Tribune
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When all of the dust settled last Saturday at the Sac-Joaquin Section Masters wrestling tournament, three local wrestlers were left standing to make the trip to the state finals.

Granite Bay sophomore Gavin Andrews pinned his first two foes in Stockton to reach the quarterfinal round of the 285-pound division. After losing a hard-fought decision in his third bout, Andrews delivered a 3-0 decision and another pin to reach the semifinals of the consolation bracket.

A loss by decision put the young grappler in the fifth-place match, where he won by major decision over Chris Serna of Argonaut. With the top seven in each division advancing to the state meet this weekend, his result puts Andrews in Bakersfield for that big event.

“It is a big accomplishment for a sophomore to make the state meet, especially in his weight division which is typically dominated by upper classmen, especially seniors,” said Granite Bay coach Mike Lynch. “Once a wrestler is competing at that level, anything can happen. Gavin is just starting out on this trail. He has great potential, and he is getting an inkling right now on just what he can accomplish. This is really going to be a fun experience, in part, because it is Gavin's first ride in an event this big.”

Freshman Peter Santos of Woodcreek took a similar route to his fifth-place finish at 125 pounds, earning a berth at state as well.

Santos won two matches easily before losing a 7-5 verdict to Eric Meredith of Sheldon. A pair of wins by decision followed, and then Santos lost an 8-5 decision that sent him to the fifth-place battle, where he exacted a measure of revenge with an 11-2 major decision win over Meredith.

“We asked him where that performance was yesterday when he first went against him, he didn't have an answer,” said Woodcreek coach Doug Mason. “I think the pressure was off, he was already going to state, and he just relaxed and wrestled like he can. He did very well.”

The highest profile local battle was once again waged in the 130-pound weight class, where coaches at Roseville and Oakmont were hoping to have both Dylan Jankovich and Jake Elliott reach Bakersfield. As it turned out, the wrestlers from Del Oro (Austin Branum) and Oak Ridge (Keaton Subjeck) that had finished behind the local duo at the Division II finals jumped over them to take third and fourth at Masters.

“The wrestlers who placed third-eighth at Masters at 130 pounds are all extremely close in ability with any one of them able to win on any given day,” said Roseville coach Jeremiah Miller.

“I knew Jake would have a tough road ahead of him when I saw the bracket, but all in all, he wrestled well and had a great season,” said Oakmont coach Dave Wells. “I was bummed for the match (against Jankovich) because I really wanted both of the local students to make it to state, but unfortunately that wasn't the case. My hats of to Jankovich though, and I hope he does great at state, and I really think he will.”

The draw and results left Elliott and Jankovich to go head-to-head early on in the consolation bracket, and when Jankovich took that bout 3-2, Elliott’s state hopes were dashed.

“The Elliot match and his match against the Lincoln of Stockton wrestler for seventh and eighth were the key matches,” Miller said. “Those two wrestlers accounted for five of Dylan's losses this year. Depending on how he wrestles, Dylan has a chance to place top eight (at state) this year.”

“Looking back at the season for Jake, to win league and sections as a sophomore is nothing to hang your head at,” Wells said. “One should never base the whole season on a final match. The match didn't go our way, but most of the season did, and we are proud of everything that was accomplished.”

Jankovich lost his next match and was forced into a must-win situation in a seventh-place match. As things went, the junior won that bout by default and now moves on to the state meet.

The state meet takes place at Rabobank Arena in Bakersfield Friday and Saturday.

“The CIF State Meet is one of the top high school athletic events in the nation, bar none,” Lynch said. “It ranks as one of the best athletic events in the country, regardless of level. California is one of a very select few (maybe four or five) to crown one true state champion in the sport. Most other states have one to four levels so they never really get a true state champ. And with California being such a large state there are so many athletes competing just to get to the show.”



CIF State High School Wrestling Championships

Friday and Saturday, March 5-6

Rabobank Arena, Bakersfield

Wrestling starts at 9 a.m. both days

Roseville area wrestlers participating: Woodcreek sophomore Peter Santos (125 pounds); Roseville junior Dylan Jankovich (130 pounds); Granite Bay sophomore Gavin Andrews (285 pounds).