El Dorado Hills’ Brandon Claiborne wins gold in Jr. High TOC
LOOMIS — Brandon Claiborne, 13, a member of the El Dorado Hills Wrestling Club, won the 135-pound weight class in the 44th annual Northern California Junior High Tournament of Champions Saturday.
Claiborne, who took third last year as a seventh-grader in his third year of wrestling, breezed with a technical fall in his opening match against Damian Avila of Richgrove and decisioned Nino Gomez of Wilson Exeter in the second. He pinned Chris Chapa of Madera in the third round and his major decision over Justin Duran of Alta Vista earned him a berth in the championship finals. Wrapping up a long day of competition, Claiborne decisioned Gabe Hindman of the Oroville Rattlers to make the top of the podium.
The tournament, which benefits the Georgetown Wrestling Club, was started by former Golden Sierra High coach Rod Hedlund and his wife Suzanne. Because it includes middle school programs and wrestling clubs from Bakersfield to the Northern California border, the event was moved to Del Oro High to accomodate the huge number of wrestlers who qualify throughout the season.
Winners from Saturday’s tournament are eligible for the California State Junior High Championships March 17 at Fresno’s Selland Arena.
Ponderosa’s Gang Green Wrestling Club had three wrestlers place. At 185s, Kyle Jennings used good takedowns and a never-say-quit attitude to place second. At 83s, Austin Ward lost his first match by one point in overtime and his final match by one point in overtime to take fourth. Aiden Oshea (108) came in ranked second for the tournament and finished seventh.
Herbert Green’s Brandon Reese (168) pinned Kastner’s Quinn Nugent to open the tournament and earned a decision in the second round. After losing in the quarterfinals, Reese won his next three bouts, pinning Dominic Vasquez of the Oroville Rattlers to finish third.
Dylon Fulmer (142) of Pleasant Valley took sixth. After defeating Riley Sherwood of Granite Ridge, Fulmer dropped into consolation with a loss in the second round. Fulmer pinned his next two opponents and won by decision in his fifth match. He needed one more victory to qualify to wrestle for third place but lost to Emory Doss of Kerr. The two met again in the finals and Doss prevailed once more to take fifth while Fulmer settled for sixth.
Jackson Redhair (70), also of the EDH Wrestling Club, shut out his first opponent but lost in the second round. He battled back through consolation with a 3-1 record, winning his final match with a major decision over Tulare’s Zachary Wilson to take seventh.
Pleasant Valley’s Ealn Tubbs (112) posted a major decision and a pin in his first two matches before losing to Selma’s Tony Mendoza in the quarterfinal round. He split his next two matches but bounced back to pin Todd Alexander of Kerr for seventh place.
Other El Dorado County wrestlers who qualified through the regular season but came up short of placing Saturday included:
Pleasant Valley — Jessie Pust (70), Isaac Heape (76), Antonio Vidal (89), Dillon Abel-Smith (122), Christian Beck (128) and Shay Barba (128); Sierra Ridge — Dedan Russell (76); Rolling Hills — Kevin Belcher (76) and Daelin Wofford (108); El Dorado Hills — Jack Santina (83), Ryan Campbell (83), Jack Likins (89), Ricky Eyman (95) and Tofor Lewis (100); Pleasant Grove — Noah Blake ((89); Herbert Green — Daniel Warden (95); Georgetown — Cody Sokolay (103) and Nick White (135); Northside — Stuart Cayot (142) Cole Williams (153) and Noah Ford (153).
The tournament’s success is the result of the hard work of the volunteers who put in countless hours to stage the event — many of whom who have worked with Rod and Suzanne since the first year. Members of the staff include Rod, the tournament director; Suzanne, head table (and the “real” tournament director); Roger Clough and Steve Cole, assistant directors; Jerry Loscalzo, announcer; John Piparo, a fixture in the staging area; and John Daniels, weigh-ins, staging, photograper and computer help.
Also on the staff are Chuck Wilfley, the head computer operator, and Michele Roman, who comes back from San Diego every year to work at the head table and is in charge of awards presentations. Her husband, Steve Roman, is one of the many wrestling officials who continue to work the tournament each year. David Publicover assists at set ups, weigh ins and at the head table.
Others on the staff include Jennifer Clough, Donna Piparo, Del Oro parents Rex and and Jackie De Martini, Sean Barry and Scott Roberts, Blake Hedlund, Matt Cohen, Josh Clough, Lori Kirby, Larry Strief, Benjamin West and Dallin Wills.
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