RAMIREZ TAKE 140-POUND TITLE

December 15, 2002 11:00 pm

OAKDALE — Andrew Ramirez won the 140-pound championship and the Sonora High School wrestling team finished third in the Riddle Tournament on Saturday at Oakdale High.

Ramirez, a senior, won four straight matches, capping his first championship performance by pinning Joey Monjour from Johansen of Modesto in the title match at 3:58 of the second round.

"It's the best match I've seen (Ramirez) wrestle," Sonora coach Jon Abernathy said. "He eliminated the kind of mistakes that have gotten him in trouble in the past. He's more solid now and he has a better game plan."

It's all part of a fourth-year makeover for Ramirez, who, according to Abernathy, is spending more time on his feet setting up his moves than rolling around on the mat with his opponents.

"We're really working on his takedowns," Abernathy said. "If you can take the other guy down, you're going to win most of the time."

Ramirez was leading 3-2 on an escape and a takedown when he caught Monjour and put the Modestan's shoulders to the mat just two seconds before the whistle would have ended the second period ended.

Senior Joel DePaoli finished second for Sonora at 152 pounds, senior Jex Baldwin third at 160 and sophomore Jed Mele third at 135 for Sonora, which scored 141 team points to trail only Oakdale (161.5) and St. Patrick of Vallejo (155) in the 16-school tournament.

DePaoli pinned two foes and beat a third with a technical fall (15-point decision) to reach the finals, then fell 17-7 to Mike Jones from Davis of Modesto. DePaoli rallied with some late takedowns but couldn't overcome a big early deficit.

Baldwin won twice, lost in overtime in the semifinals and finished up with a 9-0 victory over Chris Davis from Buhach Colony of Atwater in the third-place match, while the unseeded Mele took third by pinning David Winister from Sierra of Manteca.

Jordan DePaoli finished fifth at 130, Robert Reed fifth at 189 and Andrew Blume fifth at 215, and Gabe Prieto took sixth at 103 for the Wildcats.