Ten of the 441 wrestlers in the Sac-Joaquin Section Masters tournament have first names beginning with G. There was Gabe, Gabriel, Gavin, Gilberto, two Giovannis, Gordan, two Grants and Guryann. It sounded as if Vacaville High had one among its 14 competitors because of the cheers for “G” whenever Thomas Sandoval was on the mat.
Vacaville coach Armando Orozco admits he usually gets confused when he looks at tournament brackets and cannot find his 182-pound entrant. There is never one with a first name of Geronimo, which is Sandoval’s middle name. Nothing against the junior’s parents, but Thomas has been tossed aside like many of their son’s opponents.
The five who faced Sandoval at the Masters meet know how that feels. Three pins propelled Sandoval into the semifinals, where he defeated Oakdale’s Wes Burford by a 14-5 majority decision. Sandoval scored another majority decision in the finals with a 12-4 victory over Scott Beadles of Calaveras to take down the championship.
Sandoval is one of eight Bulldogs to qualify for the state meet, which will begin Thursday in Bakersfield. The others are sophomore Elijah Almarinez (106), freshman Wyatt Sandoval (113), sophomore Landen Borchers (120), senior Casey Roberts (126), junior Qusai Marini (138), junior Arjun Nagra (152) and senior Caleb Borchers (170).
This is Sandoval’s second trip to Bakersfield. He qualified in 2020 by finishing third at 170 at the Masters meet and then placed fourth at the state tournament. He was one of Vacaville’s four state medalists last year. Medals are awarded to the top eight finishers in each weight class. The other Bulldogs to earn medals were Isaiah Kainoa Medina (sixth at 106), Tyler Riley (eighth at 113) and Eric Almarinez (sixth at 138).
The Bulldogs will practice Wednesday morning and then depart for Bakersfield. They will have a workout in the evening at Mechanics Bank Arena. Sandoval’s bid for a second state medal begins Thursday against Noel Cellabos of Monache High (Porterville). Sandoval is the No. 3 seed, one spot higher than his state ranking by CalGrappler.com.
Tye Monteiro of Bakersfield High is seeded and ranked No. 1. Fountain Valley’s T.J. McDonnell is seeded second and ranked third. Sonny Kling of Canyon Springs is No. 2 in the rankings but fourth in the seedings. If the top four seeds hold true through the quarterfinals Friday, Sandoval will face McDonnell is the semifinals on Saturday.
Monteiro and McDonnell finished second and third, respectively, at the 2022 state tournament.