Rivera (R) vs. Romero (L) 108BWCpg

Reedley High School's Gabriel Rivera, right, controls opponent Xander Romero from Lemoore High in a second-round match at 108 pounds during the California Classic tournament at RHS on Dec. 15. Rivera won by an 8-3 decision on his way to a second place finish in the tournament.

The Reedley High Pirates wrestling team used its own tournament – the ever-growing California Classic — to gain experience and prepare team members for the upcoming North Yosemite League dual meet season.

This fifth annual tournament, which has expanded from 16 to 25 schools, packed out the Reedley High main gym on Dec. 15 with many Central Section schools and out-of-area powers from the Central Coast.

Arroyo Grande won the team title with 229 points, edging out Morro Bay with 223 points. Highland of Bakersfield had the top section finish, third place with 185 points.

The host Pirates finished in 12th place with 89.5 points. The bulk of their scoring came from two talented freshmen — Gabriel Rivera at 108 pounds and Phillip Arroyo in the 120 class.

Rivera (13-3 on the season) went 3-1, getting two decision wins and one pin to reach the finals. There, he lost by a 9-0 decision to Corcoran's Jonah Hernandez, who was named Outstanding Lower Weights Wrestler in the tournament.

Arroyo (14-4) won three of his five matches, working up through consolation to take fourth place. Both Rivera and Arroyo have starred in junior wrestling and come in with extensive mat experience for freshmen.

"Right now, we're mainly new guys," coach Isidro Arroyo said of his team. It's his second year coaching the varsity, and his sixth year coaching with the program since graduating high school.

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