Natomas Wrestling Tourney Attracts Regional Talent


THE NATOMAS BUZZ | @natomasbuzz

The Nighthawks Varsity Duals tournament has been a staple in the wrestling community for the last 20 years.

Starting at 9 a.m. on a crisp Saturday morning at Natomas High School, the cage warmed up quickly. More than 200 wrestlers representing 16 teams from Northern California and Nevada competed for nearly eight hours. 

Despite lacking wrestlers in five weight classes, Natomas players beat all five opponents in head-to-head matches, hinting at a solid season if junior varsity call ups factor into the season for Tri-County Conference and Sac-Joaquin Section matches.

The Nighthawks team finished 2-3 in the tournament as Liberty High School of Brentwood defeated Carson High School of Carson City, Nevada to earn a secondconsecutive tournament title.

The eight Natomas wrestlers who did compete were a combined 28-9 in individual matches, led by an undefeated day for seniors Jordan Sepeda (4-0, 4 pins) at 225 pounds and 145-pounder Alex Gonzalez (5-0, 2 pins).

Natomas wrestlers Anthony Freehill (120) went 3-1, Vicente Garcia (138) went 4-1, Rafael Pantoja (170) went 4-1, Richard Henderson (182) went 3-2 with three pins, Alex Villalobos (195) went 2-3 and heavyweight Joey Ames went 3-1 with three pins. Freshman Khaliq Johnson (106) did not compete.

The Nighthawks beat Wooster High School of Reno and Vintage High School of Napa. Their three losses were to Damonte Ranch High School of Reno, Monterey Trail High School and Jesuit High School in the final match. 

Natomas assistant head coach JosephSepeda, Jordan’s father, said the coaching staff is looking for some of the junior varsity wrestlers to step up to fill the five empty weight classes for league matches beginning in January.

“It has been like this for the last five years,” he said. “We’ve never lost head-to-head, just on forfeit points. We are looking at sophomores to bring up and to (help us) compete … our goal is to win league and contend for a D-III title.”

The outstanding lightweight wrestler in the tournament was Austin Solari from Liberty High at 132 pounds. Mike Kintz (145) was the outstanding middleweight and Kendall Richmond (170) was named outstanding heavyweight.

Inderkum wrestling won the Tiger Invitational at home onSaturday. Junior Ruben Escalante was named lightweight MVP, winning hisweight class along with four other Tigers.

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