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Wrestling Bruins See Success In Early Going
It hasn't taken long for the 2012-13 Riverbank High Wrestling Bruins to show some signs of life. The team escaped a dual meet with perennial Division IV power Escalon with two emphatic pin victories, left the Livingston Girls Tournament with an undefeated title and departed the prestigious James Riddle Classic in Oakdale with some tournament hardware.

"Oakdale Riddle is a very tough and very competitive tournament," Riverbank assistant coach Gilbert Bargas said. "You see a lot of state qualifiers there."

With talented wrestlers bogging down the medals podium, Riverbank relied on a terrific effort from sophomore sensation Jose Ariza, who won three matches and settled for sixth place honors. Ariza was one of six Bruin wrestlers to make the trip to the weekend Oakdale tourney. None of them are seniors.

"We are a very young team," Bargas said. "Those who competed in the Oakdale Riddle were only 10th and 11th graders."

Marco Medina went 1-2 in the 106-pound weight class while Ryan Stiner was also 1-2 at 160. Orlando Gutierrez, Matt Baca and Zack James wrestled tough in defeat as well.

The Bruins were fresh off Wednesday's 67-12 loss to returning Sac-Joaquin Section D-IV runner-ups, Escalon. The Cougars were without a few football players who recently competed in the section finale, but showcased a young and experienced lineup across the weights.

Ariza showcased his talents against the Cougars by nabbing a pin over Escalon's Juan Silva in the 195-pound match. It was the second such victory for Riverbank, as Stiner had thrilled wrestling fans just two matches prior when his early lead over Daniel Gonzales progressed to a sharp first round pin.

The Bruins struggled to a 60-0 loss in the junior varsity dual, but found a source of inspiration in the lone exhibition match. The contest gave attention to Bruin senior Melissa Garcia, a returning girls state qualifier. Garcia came out tough and ended the same way with an exhibition match victory to continue her unbeaten season.

Garcia was also undefeated at the Livingston Girls Tournament on Nov. 3, nabbing gold on the medal platform. The Bruin standout stunned opponents with a terrific run through the SJS Girls Championship (she was third) last year and won three big matches at state to fall just one win short of a state medal.

Riverbank hosts Hughson today, Dec. 12 to continue Trans-Valley League action.