Bear River duo delivers at Division III championships

Placer’s Thornton also takes title
By: Todd Mordhorst Journal Sports Editor
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Juan Gudino remembers seeing Bear River High coach Kevin Figueroa walking on the school campus two years ago and seeing a group of kids run up and try their wrestling moves on him. He didn’t need to see much more to realize he had found his sport. “Coach talked me into it and I loved it,” Gudino said. “(Figueroa) told me if I wanted to prove to myself that I had the will power to succeed, I should come out for wrestling.” The 119-pound senior is now teaming up with Jory Gemignani to carry the torch for the Bruins in the postseason. Both seniors won their respective weight classes at the Sac-Joaquin Section Division III Championships Saturday at Natomas. Gudino, who sports a record of 27-4 on the season, cruised to the championship at 119 on Saturday while Gemignani upset his way to the 112 crown. It was the first tournament title of Gemignani’s career. He credits Gudino with helping him make big strides over the past two seasons. “I’m the one on the team that is competitive with Juan,” Gemignani said. “Otherwise he doesn’t really have a challenge. I think that’s why I’ve gotten good.” The top four finishers at the Division III tournament earned spots to the Sac-Joaquin Section Masters, where they’ll take on the best in the section regardless of division. Placer’s Joe Thornton was the lone Hillman to make the Division III finals. He scored a pin in the final at 140 to win the title. Thornton will be joined at Masters by fellow Placer seniors Steve Cox (171) and John Medina (heavyweight). Colfax senior Vinny Correlejo fell in the semifinals at 160 Saturday, but he recovered to take third place and land a spot at Masters. Figueroa said he saw a bond develop between Gemignani and Gudino late last season. “They really came together as a duo and this year they’ve been focused, encouraging the rest of the team to aspire to go to state,” Figueroa said. “Today they both took first and they were so excited for each other. They’ve done it with hard work and respect all year.” Bear River junior Nick Sauers is also headed to Masters. The 130-pounder placed fourth after winning the Pioneer Valley League title last week. For Gudino, Saturday’s result was the next step toward his ultimate goal – the CIF State Championships. He’s aiming to end a long drought for the Bear River program. “I feel like I have the ability,” Gudino said. “As long as I don’t get too nervous and go out confident I can do it.”