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Wheatland wins Battle of the Buttes
Saturday was a long one for Ron Benton.
As River Valley High's wrestling coach, Benton woke up before sunrise and arrived at Falcon Gymnasium at 4:30 a.m. to set things up for the third installment of the Dow Lewis Battle of the Buttes — the annual tournament to decide the best team in the Mid-Valley area.
Instead of a seven-team tournament format like the previous two years, this year's tourney was a modified round-robin, with each team getting in five duals during an eight-hour marathon that saw action on three mats.
There was also a junior varsity portion in the school's auxiliary gym, where teams from out of town made their way to Yuba City to compete.
"We moved it to a Saturday this year, which was nice because the parents got to come out and watch their kids," Benton said. "We're competitive on the mat, but wrestling is like a family and we all work together as a family. We help each other out as much as we can."
As for the action on the mat, it was Wheatland that came out on top by outscoring its opponents 238-114, while posting a perfect 5-0 record to capture the tournament for the second time. The Pirates won the inaugural event in 2010, while Yuba City took the tourney last year.
The Honkers finished second, Lindhurst was third, Gridley was fourth, Live Oak was fifth, River Valley took sixth and Marysville came in seventh. The only local team not at the event was Sutter, which was competing at a tournament in Hawaii.
The Pirates also had the cards stacked against them heading into the tournament when one wrestler didn't make weight and another went home sick.
"All the guys wrestled tough," Wheatland coach Cy Olsen said. "We had to throw in a JV guy and bump people up so we had a challenge there, but we had a good day.
"It's a small tournament, but it's a ton of fun. There's a lot of camaraderie with the local schools and River Valley does a great job putting this thing on."
Leading the way for the Pirates on Saturday was Mikey Hawkins, who was voted the middleweight Most Valuable Wrestler by finishing 5-0 with a pin and three hard-fought decisions in the 153-pound division. His other victory came by way of injury forfeit.
Also faring well for Wheatland were Jon Cerboni (138), Austin Shinn (145), Kalan Hastey (170) and Andrew Gonzales (220), each of whom went 4-1 on the day.
Mansoor Ahmadi (113) and Cody McMahon (184) turned in strong performances for Yuba City, coach Erik Lambert said.
Gridley's Haiden Johnson was named the lightweight MVW after going 5-0 with five pins in the 127-pound weight class. Johnson also won the light weight MVW last year when he wrestled at 113 pounds.
River Valley's Jordan Davis was named the heavyweight MVW with a 5-0 record and three pins at 196 pounds.
For tournament director Jason Ramos, it was all about bringing the local teams together for a good day of competition.
"We have a really good system now. Everybody pitches in and works together, so it really is a community tournament," Ramos said. "It's an exciting, friendly atmosphere, but you see guys give a little extra effort because it is for bragging rights."