Three Trojans headed to state tourney

By: Matt Long
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Vinny Waldhauser looks to cap off an outstanding season with a medal at the state wrestling tournament this weekend, the gold medal. He’s been one of the top-ranked wrestlers all year, losing only twice in the 160-pound weight class, and now all he’s got to do is go out and do it. Waldhauser and Oak Ridge teammates Keaton Subjeck and Josh Dawson will compete at the state wrestling tournament in Bakersfield. Waldhauser, a junior, won the 160-pound division at the Masters Tournament last weekend in Stockton, while Dawson, a senior, placed third at 135-pounds and Subjeck, a freshman, took fourth at 130 pounds. Waldhauser didn’t just win his weight class, he dominated it. He won all five of his matches, four by pin and another by a 10-1 score. “I feel pretty good,” Waldhauser said. “I feel that if I have my mind into it, I can beat anyone. I mixed up my moves and tried to catch people, but for most of the pins I used an arm bar.” Waldhauser has only lost two matches this season, both by narrow 4-2 scores. Both of those opponent’s, Selma’s Justin Lozano and Anderson’s Marcus Zachary, figure to be at the state tournament this weekend. “I plan on being in the finals,” Waldhauser said of the state meet. “Like I said, I feel I can beat anyone when my head is into it. It’s not going to be easy and I know I will have some tough matches, but I think I can beat anyone.” “It was complete domination for Vinny,” Oak Ridge coach Casey Rhyan said. “No one came close. He pinned Tyler Clarke in the first period of the finals and he was ranked second in the section.” Dawson said he wrestled the best tournament of his life and it showed, as he placed third at 135 pounds, losing only one match by two points. Dawson started the tournament with a pin and then won his second match against Sheldon’s Xavier Vasquez, 8-6. After a 9-7 win over Whitney’s Nazir Rasooli, Dawson was guaranteed a spot in the state tournament. “I was stoked and excited after that match,” Dawson said. On Saturday Dawson lost his first match to Pitman’s Andrew Perez, 10-8. “It could have gone either way,” Dawson said. “I had him pinned with a figure four but didn’t get it.” Dawson rebounded with a 4-3 win over Livingston’s Kevin Villalobos, before defeating Rasooli a second time, 7-1, to take third. “I didn’t really know how I would match up in this tournament because I hadn’t wrestled a lot of the guys,” Dawson said. “I was kind of surprised (at how well I did), but I was more excited and proud that I did it.” Dawson said he basically wrestled as hard as he could and it paid off. He plans to do the same thing this week at the state meet and he hopes to have the same result. He said he wants to earn a medal badly. “Josh had an amazing tournament, as he beat the No. 2 ranked wrestler in the section twice,” Rhyan said. “He came within two points of the being in the finals.” For Subjeck, reaching the state was even more impressive because he’s a freshman. Despite his youth, Subjeck didn’t doubt he could make it. “I knew I could do it,” Subjeck said. “My goal was to make it and I’ve worked so hard all year. It’s really exciting.” Subjeck pinned his first opponent and then dropped a 12-11 decision to Racelis Cardenas, 12-11. “At that point I knew I had a tough road ahead,” Subjeck said. “I just kept my goal in mind. I didn’t wrestle that well the first day, but the second day I wrestled very well.” Subjeck won five matches in the row in the consolation bracket by the scores of 6-3, pin, 6-2, 3-0 and 10-3 to get to the bout for third place. That’s where he lost his final match to Del Oro’s Austin Brannam, 5-4. “Keaton had an unbelievable tournament for a freshman,” Rhyan said. “He had to battle back through the consolation bracket and he beat three ranked wrestles in all close matches. He came out of the tournament with two black eyes and a tooth which was knocked out.” Now at the state tournament, he wants a medal. “It’s a lofty goal to place at state and it’s going to be tough, but that’s my goal,” Subjeck said. “Now that I’m here, I think I can do it. I believe anyone can be beaten on any day.” Oak Ridge’s Brandon Buriani wrestled well and placed eighth, but it was one place away from qualifying for the state meet. “Brandon had a great tournament, as he came about as close as you could get to qualifying,” Rhyan said. “This was his best wrestling of the year and he picked up a big win over Ponderosa’s Kyle Meniketti, who had beaten Brandon in three previous meetings.” Oak Ridge finished the tournament eighth in team points and Rhyan is pleased and thinks the best is still ahead for the group. “The kids had a great tournament and are still peaking,” Rhyan said. They’ve definitely saved the best for last. I really believe we’re going to make some noise at the state tournament. “I’m very proud of them. Not just for wrestling well, but also for battling for two tough days, not giving up, leaving it all on the mat. These guys are true warriors.”