Boys wrestling: Four champions help Windsor roar to team title

Petaluma's Nick Pruett wrestles Terra Linda's Daniel Laereman in the 182-pound weight class during the King of the Mat wrestling tournament at Windsor High on Saturday.  (ALVIN JORNADA / The Press Democrat)

Petaluma’s Nick Pruett wrestles Terra Linda’s Daniel Laereman in the 182-pound weight class during the King of the Mat wrestling tournament at Windsor High on Saturday.
(ALVIN JORNADA / The Press Democrat)

By ALLIE COLOSKY
FOR THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

WINDSOR — More than 40 schools descended on Windsor High School for the King of the Mat wrestling tournament, but none could dethrone the host and reigning champs.

Windsor kept possession of the Ron Elder team award trophy as the Jaguars took first place with 284.5 points.

Windsor sent eight wrestlers to the finals. Teammates Austin Wilson and Brandon Potts faced each other in the 102-pound finals, as Wilson went on to win the championship with a 16-3 victory.

“We’ve been wrestling partners for a really long time so it was fun to wrestle him on the mat out there,” Potts said. “I always try to stay positive, but he got the first takedown and I was trying to just get out and wrestle as tough as I could.”

Wilson agreed that being teammates made the match unique.

“Wrestling your teammate is a lot different because of camaraderie shared in the practice room,” Wilson said. “I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for guys like him. Having to go against my own partner, it’s a little different in my mind.”

Other Windsor individual champions included Perez Perez — the tournament’s lightweight outstanding wrestler — who defeated Bryan Edwards from Liberty High School, 22-5; Trevor Silva, who fought back from a shoulder injury and a two-point deficit to beat Joey Gradek from Ukiah, 5-4; and Noah Au Yeung, who won at 132 pounds.

“I was exhausted the whole day. I’ve only had five matches this whole year,” Silva said about the final match. “I didn’t want to lose at my home tournament.”

Multiple Empire wrestlers won weight division championships, including Petaluma’s Nick Pruett.

The 182-pounder said that despite exhaustion, the opportunity to sneak a title from host Windsor was the best part of his day.

“I love it,” Pruett said. “I didn’t come in seeded and I ousted the No. 1 seed and then took the finals, so I’m pretty happy.”

With the opening rounds starting at 9 a.m., the wrestlers were going to be tested both physically and mentally if they were to last the five matches to reach the championship round.

“My first match I was sluggish and tired,” Pruett said. “Once I got over that, I got on a roll and went after it. At the very end, I was getting very tired and I was more on the defensive.”

Pruett defeated Windsor’s Anthony Spallino, 6-3, in the finals at 182.

Red-faced wrestlers cheered on their teammates before grabbing their gym bag and heading to the snack bar to refuel their energy, or stretching out in the bleachers for a much needed cat nap.

Cardinal Newman’s P.J. Klee — who was named the middleweight outstanding wrestler of the tournament — went three rounds with Liberty’s Jesse Gregersen before winning the championship, 22-8.

“I’ve been practicing on scoring a lot of points lately, and I was able to show that in the finals,” Klee said. “I moved up a couple weight classes, so it’s good to wrestle some of these bigger guys. I proved that no matter what weight I’m at, I’m going to be all right.”

In the 152-pound weight class, Klee said he felt comfortable but needed to tighten up and win the close matches in order to win a state championship.

As one of the few finalists to have his entire wrestling team cheering him on in the finals, Healdsburg’s Ian Black stood with his medal around his neck and a smile on his face, after he pinned Wendell Lee to win the 160-pound weight class title.

“As soon as I took him down, I was pretty sure I was going to win,” he said.

“I was pretty sore, so I had to make sure I got a good warm-up before the match.”

Other notable titles included Wyatt Wyckoff from Paradise, who pinned Cardinal Newman’s Michael Klee in the first round.

Pablo Gonzalez, from Ukiah, knocked off Freedom’s Kirk Sullivan, 5-1 in the 285-pound weight class. Gonzalez earned the title of heavyweight outstanding wrestler of the tournament.

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