By TED SILLANPAA
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
NEWARK — It was a good day for Empire stars at the North Coast Section wrestling championships.
Four area standouts reached the championship match in their weight class to lead a parade of 11 North Coast competitors who finished in the top four in their divisions to qualify for the California Interscholastic Federation tournament next week in Bakersfield.
Ukiah’s Max Oswald came closest to winning a section title, losing a heartbreaker in the title match to College Park’s Conor Young, 9-8.
In only his second year wrestling, Oswald tested Walker.
“I didn’t know anything about him,” Oswald said. “All I know is that I could’ve beaten him.”
The powerful, but still inexperienced, Oswald, led 8-7 with 1:04 left in the third period. Young shot for the legs and scored a takedown to grab the lead and win.
“It’s a phenomenal showing for a kid only in his second year in the sport,” said Ukiah’s Gary Cavender. “Max just wasn’t offensive enough. He kind of froze up out there. Physically, he has everything it takes to do well at the state meet. But, he still needs experience and to work on his technique.”
Healdsburg’s Adam Hendrickson earned a third trip to the state meet, finishing second at 145. He lost to another three-time state qualifier in De La Salle’s Alex Abono. Abono controlled the match to win, 12-3.
Casa Grande’s Jack Fausone finished second at 152 pounds. He reinjured the right knee that he damaged late in the championship round of the Sonoma County League meet.
Petaluma’s Tanner Berncich, who was granted an at-large berth at 195 after failing to qualify for the section meet in the SCL tourney, moves onto the state meet after a second-place finish.
Hendrickson’s match was the most highly-anticipated of the night. “I just didn’t take any shots,” the Healdsburg star said as he eyes his third trip to the state meet. “I didn’t stick to my strategy.”
Hendrickson knows the loss will affect his state title chances and admits there was no particular explanation for the defeat.
“I just didn’t feel good this entire weekend,” he said. “Now, I’ll be seeded No. 3 in the state and be in the same bracket as the No. 1 seed. … This loss makes a big difference.”
Fausone lost to Livermore’s Tyler Rardon, 5-3. The match was close throughout. Fausone tweaked his already injured right knee, prompting a brief delay with the score tied 3-3 in the third round. As soon as the match resumed, Rardon scored the two points that avenged a previous loss by pin to Fausone.
“Jack wanted to feel him out and see what he could do,” said Casa Grande assistant coach Jimmy Pera. “The kid kept attacking and finally broke through. It was a gutsy match by both kids, but we’re not surprised by anything Jack does. He’s a natural wrestler who thinks two, three moves ahead.”
Berncich didn’t qualify for the NCS meet with his placing in the SCL tourney. Windsor coach Rich Carnation, who represented the league at the section seeding meetings, made the appeal to get the gifted 195- pounder one of three at-large berths granted to non-qualifiers.
The Petaluma star responded by rolling through the division, beating Logan’s Clayton Hartwell by pin in the semifinals.
De La Salle’s Justin Walker pinned Berncich with five seconds left in the first round of the championship match.
Seven Empire wrestlers who didn’t reach the championship round qualified by finishing in the top four in their weight class.
Windsor’s Perez Perez beat Heritage’s Joey Vigil by decision to finish third and advance to the state meet. Ukiah’s Chris Berg finished third at 152 to join Fausone at the state event in that division.
Healdsburg’s Matthew Tsarnas moves on to Bakersfield by defeating Hoopa Valley’s Louis Cosce, 4-0, for third place at 160.
Oswald will be joined at 182 in Bakersfield by Healdsburg’s Ricardo Sandoval and El Molino’s Taryn Christiansen. Sandoval avenged an SCL tournament loss by pinning Christiansen on Saturday in the battle for third place in the section.
Maria Carrillo’s Dakota Albaum advances by finishing fourth at 220. Casa Grande heavyweight Elijah Qualls lost by decision to finish fourth, enough to qualify for the state meet.
Empire North Coast Section wrestling medalists with school and final position. Top four finishers in each weight class advance to the California Interscholastic Federation meet in Bakersfield.
106: Perez Perez, Windsor, third.
113: Brian Guerrero, Rancho Cotate, seventh; Giordi Serafini, Sonoma Valley, eighth
120: Logan Fore, Windsor, sixth. (Accepted injury forfeit loss, did not wrestle for fifth place.)
126: Kyle Doughty, Analy, seventh; Seth Trunick, Windsor, eighth.
132: Ward Beecher, Upper Lake, fifth; Brandon Painchaud, Lower Lake, sixth.
138: No Empire medalists.
145: Adam Hendrickson, Healdsburg, second; Chris Moreno, Cardinal Newman, sixth.
152: Jack Fausone, Casa Grande, second; Chris Berg, Ukiah, third; Bruce Tucker, Upper Lake, fifth.
160: Matthew Tsarnas, Healdsburg, third; Spencer Owen, Montgomery, sixth; Bradley Brackett, Upper Lake, eighth.
170: Anthony Navarro, Rancho Cotate, fifth; Marcos Anguiano, Healdsburg, sixth; Tom Bender, Willits, seventh.
182: Max Oswald, Ukiah, second; Ricardo Sandoval, Healdsburg, third; Taryn Christiansen, El Molino, fourth; Tyler Carpenter, Cardinal Newman, seventh.
195: Tanner Berncich, Petaluma, second; Max Manoukian, Healdsburg, fifth; Brian Northen, Analy, sixth.
220: Dakota Albaum, Maria Carrillo, fourth; Joe Valdez Upper Lake, sixth; Aiden Lacy, Sonoma Valley, seventh.
285: Elijah Qualls, Casa Grande, fourth; Quintton Bowlds, Willits, fifth; Giuliano Cattaneo, Montgomery, sixth; Eric Chavez, Healdsburg, eighth.
State meet qualifers: Perez Perez, Windsor, 106; Adam Hendrickson, Healdsburg, 145; Jack Fausone, Casa Grande, 152; Chris Berg, Ukiah, 152; Matthew Tsarnas, Healdsburg, 160; Max Oswald, Ukiah, 182; Ricardo Sandoval, Healdsburg, 182; Taryn Christiansen, El Molino 182; Tanner Berncich, Petaluma, 195; Dakota Albaum, Maria Carrillo, 220; Elijah Qualls, Casa Grande, 285.
1, De La Salle, 318.5
2, College Park, 188
3, Liberty, 179
4, James Logan, 157.5
5. Healdsburg, 153
6. Newark Memorial, 124
7. Windsor, 111
8 (tie). Castro Valley, 96
8 (tie). Upper Lake, 96
10. Clayton Valley, 94
15. Rancho Cotate, 83.5
16. Ukiah, 81.5
19. Maria Carrillo, 72
21. Casa Grande, 65
22. Montgomery, 61
25. Lower Lake, 53
31. Cardinal Newman, 44.5
34. El Molino, 41.5
36. Kelseyville, 40.5
38. Sonoma, 40
39 (tie). Analy, 39
39 (tie). Petaluma, 39