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Four Zebras qualify for Masters

By: Russ Edmondson The News Messenger
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Seniors Tony Ramirez, Steven Culverson, Marcos Lopez and Richard Manuel will represent Lincoln High's wrestling team at the Sac-Joaquin Section's Masters Meet that starts today at the University of the Pacific in Stockton. The two-day tournament will conclude Friday and the top eight wrestlers from most weight classes (some just have seven) will advance to the CIF State Meet. The State Meet will be held in Bakersfield, Feb. 29 and March 1. There will be 32 wrestlers competing in each weight class at UOP. Ramirez (heavyweight) placed second at the Division IV Championships at Foothill High over the weekend while Culverson (152 pounds), Lopez (171) and Manuel (145) each placed fifth. The top five wrestlers from each weight class kept their seasons going. Ramirez went 3-1 over the weekend with his only loss coming in the finals. He lost that match by a single point in overtime to a Weston Ranch opponent. He's not in a bad spot (for Masters), Lincoln coach Mike Maul said. He's just a hair disappointed that we didn't win it but maybe that's OK and maybe he'll come in (to today's tournament) a little hungry. Ramirez went 0-2 at the Masters Meet as a sophomore and 2-2 last year. Culverson, Lopez and Manuel each went 3-2 at Foothill and won their final match to clinch the trip to UOP. The last match is win or go home and it's kind of neat that they all three won, Maul said. Lopez dislocated his finger in his second to last match but remained in the tournament. He never complained or said how much it hurt or considered not (continuing), Maul said. Then he wrestled another match after that and won. The finger was obviously out of place. Lopez was taken to the emergency room after Saturday's action and he's ready to go for the Masters Meet. He's finally going to sections, Maul said. He was very disappointed that he didn't make it last year and he's now at the level of wrestling that he needs to be at and should be at. Manuel started his weekend with a win and ended it the same way. He did really well and he's one of the kids I'm really proud of over the course of his career, Maul said. He'd never wrestled before (entering high school) and wasn't very successful as a freshman. And now he's a league champion and (Masters) qualifier. Culverson, like Manuel, had no wrestling experience when he started at Lincoln High almost four years ago. He stuck with it and now he's doing really well, Maul said. He's just naturally strong and very athletic. He is dangerous and is the kind of kid that can catch somebody and can beat somebody better than him but also because of a lack of experience he can (also lose to somebody he shouldn't). He seems to really enjoy the sport.