Del Oro wrestling shines at state

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The Del Oro High wrestling team capped an outstanding season with a solid showing at last weekend’s CIF State Championships held in Bakersfield. Junior Jesse Stafford led the Del Oro grapplers as he took fourth place at 140 pounds, falling to Natomas standout Vlad Dombrovskyy in the third place match. Stafford posted a 6-2 record for the tournament. Senior Corey Johnson won his first two matches at 135, before falling to eventual finalist Seth Hicks of Centennial in the round of 16. Johnson won one match in the elimination bracket before being ousted. Meanwhile, senior Bobby Gallagher lost his opening match at 285, but won two straight elimination matches before falling. Del Oro’s Connor Morgan fell in his opener at 130. He won one elimination match. Del Oro senior Casey Schumacher qualified for the state tournament, but did not compete due to an injury. The Eagles placed 25th out of the total of 50 teams that competed at the meet. Commenting on Stafford’s medal, Del Oro coach Dave Sanchez had nothing but praise for his wrestler’s efforts. “The 140 weight class was one of the toughest brackets in the state,” said Sanchez. “The returning runner-up didn’t even place.” Stafford had something to do with that. Though he fell into the elimination bracket with a second-round loss to Bakersfield High’s Jonah Cruz, Stafford later avenged the loss by edging Cruz 3-2. A forfeit by Lemoore’s Nick Sierra put Stafford in the fourth-place match, where he lost to defending state champion Dombrovskyy of Sacramento’s Natomas High. “Fourth place for a junior is real good,” Sanchez said. “Fourth place for anyone at the state tournament is real good.” Stafford went 6-2 at the tournament and finished the season with a 57-7 record. Johnson (50-6) earned a medal at last year’s state tournament, but like Stafford, the 135-pounder faced a tough draw in his weight bracket. He lost in his third match to Seth Hicks of Bakersfield’s Centennial High, who ultimately finished the season as an unbeaten state champion. Morgan (49-7) earned a fourth-place medal for the Golden Eagles at the state tournament two seasons ago, but was unable to compete last year due to an injury. His hopes for a second medal ended after three matches. Gallagher (45-14) made history for Del Oro just by being in the tournament. The first heavyweight ever to represent the Golden Eagles at state, he lost his first match but won two straight in the elimination bracket before being ousted. Morgan has already accepted a scholarship to compete next winter at Utah Valley State University, while Johnson has drawn interest from Colorado’s Adams State College, one of the top wrestling schools in NCAA Division II. Sanchez said Stafford’s finish at the state tournament will put him on college recruiters’ radars as well. “He should get all sorts of interest because of it,” Sanchez said.