RAMIREZ AND DEPAOLI WIN VOL MAT TITLES

February 16, 2003 11:00 pm

ATWATER — Seniors Andrew Ramirez and Joel DePaoli won individual championships for the Sonora High School wrestling team in the Valley Oak League Tournament on Saturday at Buhach Colony High.

Ramirez won at 142 pounds with three easy victories — two pins in a total of two minutes, and a 15-4 victory over Jesus Garcia of Los Banos in the finals.

DePaoli won twice at 154, taking a tight 2-1 victory over Elijah Dailey from Sierra of Manteca in the title bout.

Ramirez and DePaoli advanced along with seven other Wildcats to the South Delta Sub-Section Tournament, which is Friday and Saturday at Franklin High in Stockton. The top six sub-section finishers in each weight class move on to the Sac-Joaquin Section Tournament, which is Feb. 28 and March 1 at Pitman High in Turlock.

Beyond that is the State Tournament, March 7 and 8 at the University of the Pacific in Stockton. The top five section finishers make state.

Sonora finished fourth as a team in the VOL tourney behind dual-match champion Los Banos, Oakdale, and Manteca.

"I was really pleased," Sonora coach Jon Abernathy said. "We showed improvement."

Rating high in the improvement category were sophomore Jed Mele and freshman Andrew Blume, who both finished third — Mele at 137 pounds and Blume at 217. Mele twice beat the No. 1 seed, Erik Warren of Buhach Colony, and Blume came within one point of semifinal upset of Los Banos' Jesse Babb, who handled Blume easily in a dual match two weeks earlier.

Finishing fourth for Sonora were sophomore Gabe Prieto at 105, freshman Nick Blume at 114, freshman Jordan DePaoli at 132, and senior Jex Baldwin at 162.

Baldwin has the misfortune of being the same weight as DePaoli, so he has been wrestling up a weight class all season. Baldwin actually weighs 150.

"He just has to give away too much weight (at 162)," Abernathy said. "He's a lot better wrestler than what he finished."

Sonora's other sub-section qualifier was junior Robert Reed, who was fifth at 173.