Oakdale wrestling has a tendency to dominate tournaments, so it’s understandable why Golden Valley coach, Chopper Mello, was a little surprised his Cougars won the Morning Star Invitational in convincing fashion on Saturday.
GV dominated the standings, outscoring talented second-place Oakdale 232-179.
“Oakdale is just a really solid program, a lot of tough, highly-ranked kids in the state,” Mello said. “We’re not really that same kind of team. We’ve got more just regular kids, so coming in, I didn’t really have expectations of beating them, to be honest with you. I thought it would be like, if we got second, that would be acceptable.
“Our depth carries us. In this kind of tournament, that can win it.”
Golden Valley placed 12 wrestlers on the medal stand in a tournament that gives medals to the top six places, and put six of them in championship matches.
GV’s wrestlers were somewhat less surprised at the victory.
Take Enkhmadakh Delgermurun, a senior from Mongolia who arrived here just before his freshman season. Delgermurun faced a 5-3 deficit against Patterson’s Manuel Cruz after the first two rounds, but executed two escapes, a takedown and a 3-point near-fall to win 10-7.
“You know, it’s just, first place, that was my goal. Also my coach has been conditioning us a lot, so there comes in our hard work that we put in in our wrestling room,” Delgermurun said. “It’s all what I have learned, what I put in, it has come out at the right moment, the right time, I guess.”
Four years ago, Delgermurun had never wrestled competitively. When he began his freshman year at Buhach Colony, he joined the wrestling team. His family moved from Atwater to Merced between his sophomore and junior years, and he has entered his senior year with a new attitude.
“He conditions us, it’s hard work, and it’s mental,” Delgermurun said. “Last year I got third place because I didn’t have the mentality of beating somebody, and this year I have more pride. It’s my senior year. I have a right to get it, you know. So mentally, I’m much better than last year.”
Teammate Criselio Rivera (106 pounds) joined Delgermurun atop the medal podium. Oakdale had four individual champions in Logan Eaton (113 pounds), Trevor Williams (126), Abel Garcia (160) and Tanner Reeves. Bellarmine, which finished third as a team, took home three individual championships.
“We just wrestled hard and won the matches we were supposed to win, and even a couple that we thought maybe we weren’t going to win. We won some matches where we were underdogs,” Mello said. “So yeah, some things went right for us, but I think we made it happen. We’ve wrestled a lot so far, and we’ve wrestled hard. We’re pretty seasoned already, and I think that kind of showed, as some of these other teams might not have wrestled as much as we have so far.”
Host Los Banos put three wrestlers in championship matches – Tyler Felix at 120, Josh Bustamante at 126 and Fernando Mendoza at 132 – but all three came up short.