HHS Wrestlers
Three Hughson wrestlers claim TVL titles; 12 qualify for Sub-Section Meet

Hughson’s wrestling team will be well-represented at the Sac-Joaquin Sub-Section Meet this weekend. Twelve Huskies – including three who claimed individual Trans-Valley League titles on Saturday – will be making the drive to Rosemont High School in Sacramento.

The Hughson contingent will be led by 175-pound senior Nicholas Perez (32-5), who was chosen the TVL’s Most Outstanding Wrestler in the upper weights after another dominant regular season. Perez, a two-time State Meet qualifier, only had to wrestle once Saturday at Escalon High. He had a first-round bye, then benefitted from a forfeit by Livingston to make the finals, where he built a 17-2 lead over an opponent from Escalon and won by technical fall.

Perez is clearly the favorite to win his weight class at the Sub-Section Meet, where all eyes will be on him every time he takes the mat.

“The big thing this weekend is trying to dominate his opponents,” said Hughson Coach Joey La Rosa of Perez. “It’s more to send a message. Everyone knows who he is. When you’re that guy, you have a bullseye on your back.”

Hughson’s other TVL champions were senior Brady Kline at 165 pounds and sophomore Diego Castillo at 190.

Kline (30-11) was unbeaten in the TVL dual-meet season, earning him the No. 1 seed in the league tournament. He had a first-round bye, then pinned an opponent from Ripon before defeating his Livingston foe 13-6 in the final match.

“He’s a tough kid. He did a good job. The big thing for him is defense on his feet,” La Rosa said of Kline, who only took up wrestling last year, when he finished second at the TVL Meet and sixth in the Sub-Section Meet.

Castillo (16-6) is a transfer from Waterford High who couldn’t compete at the beginning of the season because of transfer rules. Once he was eligible, he quickly asserted himself among a loaded group of Husky upperweight wrestlers. Seeded second at the TVL Meet, he pinned opponents from Ripon and Escalon to earn his championship.

La Rosa compared Castillo to a “wild stallion” who sometimes needs to be reined in by his coaches.

“The biggest thing with Diego is he stayed calm and composed. He just stuck to the basics,” La Rosa said. “His biggest improvement this season is mental in terms of mindset and approach. We try to get him to relax, not be nervous and have fun.”

Three other Hughson wrestlers finished second at the TVL Meet – freshman Shane Lockwood (106 pounds), sophomore Logan Dekleva (132) and senior David Burns (215).

The top four in each weight class qualified for the Sub-Section Meet.

Also moving on were third-place finishers sophomore Landon Mason (126 pounds), junior Eric Gonzalez (157) and junior Ryan Lankford (heavyweight). Sophomore Caleb Parshall (138), junior Xavier Hernandez (144) and sophomore Gideon Benetiz (150) finished fourth.

For the second year in a row, Hughson wound up second in the team standings behind Escalon.

The Sub-Section Meet will feature 24-man brackets in each weight class. The top four wrestlers at each level advance to the Masters Meet on Feb. 16-17 at the Stockton Arena. From there, the top six at each weight move on to the State Meet in Bakersfield on Feb. 22-24.

“We’re super excited for everyone's opportunity this upcoming weekend,” La Rosa said. “The stakes are even higher than last week. If we execute our basic philosophies and fundamentals, we give ourselves the best chance to succeed. When I say best chance, I mean you put yourself in a situation to make it happen and get your hand raised. That’s all we can ask for. The rest is on us.”