The Lions claimed the overall team title for the year, however, having won the dual meet title. The dual meet standings count for 60 percent of the points in the overall standings. As a result, all Liberty needed was a top-two finish at the tournament to claim another league championship banner.
All five Lion wrestlers who reached title matches in their weight classes won on Friday, but 10 Antioch wrestlers reached the finals. Both Antioch and Liberty placed 11 of their 14 wrestlers in the top three of the league, ensuring those individuals an automatic berth in the North Coast Section Championships this weekend at Newark Memorial High School.
Three of Antioch’s 10 finalists claimed league titles. Leading the way was 152-pounder Anthony Cress, who collected back-to-back league titles in that classification and secured the top seed in this weekend’s section championships. Cress (38-3 record this season) pinned both his opponents in the first round, needing slightly more than 2½ minutes of mat time to stand atop the podium. Luke Hudson and Kyle Clark – at 160 and 215 pounds, respectively – also captured individual titles for the Panthers.
Liberty, meanwhile, saw a pair of freshmen start collecting the hardware to open the finals portion of the evening. Austin Solari (103) and Joseph Trujillo (112) both won titles with second-round pins. “I’m excited about having two freshmen as league champions, especially Joey (Trujillo),” said Liberty Coach Greg Chappel. “(Solari) was pretty expected, having wrestled well all year, but Trujillo was a last-minute fill-in. It’s good to see.”
The two freshmen were followed on the first-place mat by teammates Nico Serrano (130 pounds), Jesse Baldazo (140) and Tyler Blank (285). For Serrano, the tight 15-13 victory over Antioch’s Joe Baynes represented back-to-back league titles for the junior, but also set him on a path of atonement in the post-season. “Tonight is definitely a stepping stone for me,” said Serrano, speaking of his larger goals for this season. “I didn’t wrestle very well at Mission San Jose this year, so this was just the first step in proving myself to the NCS.”
Baldazo confirmed his status as the section favorite with a 10-0 victory in his title match, before Blank wrapped up the evening for the Lions. The heavyweight trailed early in his match against Antioch’s Jarred Newberry, but turned the match around after an injury timeout in the second round. Blank converted a 2-1 deficit into a 6-2 advantage by the end of the round and pinned Newberry 30 seconds into the final period. His victory gave the Lions five individual titles, the most of any school, to go with six consolation titles.
In addition to Antioch, Freedom also placed three individual champions. Roman Garcia (119), Zach Wiley (125) and Dominic Dimercurio (135) all performed as expected, as all three wrestlers entered as the top seeds in their weight classes and made sure to hold true to those seedings. The Falcons placed third in the tournament, one point ahead of Heritage. Freedom saw six of its wrestlers place in the top three, while the Patriots gained eight top-three finishes, despite not placing an individual champion.
Deer Valley claimed two individual titles. Philip Farmer (171) and Erik Dwyer (189) won in consecutive classifications, while one Pittsburg wrestler, Frank Ferrante (145), took first during the championships.