Call it the Porterville pace.
Before his 120-pound finals matchup against Clovis High's Jonas Gaytan - ranked 3rd in the state - Porterville junior Mason Pengilly walked casually up and down one of the sides of the center mat, mammoth headphones muting the crowd's frenzy as he prepared for his championship bout.
"If I said I didn't have any nerves I would be lying. I'm always nervous," said Pengilly, one of three Panthers who wrestled in the final round of the Yosemite Divisional Tournament Saturday at Madera South High School.
Pengilly went on to win his weight class, as did teammate Martin Sandoval in the 138-pound final.
But the overall results, still the best showing among Tulare County schools, fell short of Porterville coach Tim Vanni's high expectations.
The Panthers, who dominated the East Yosemite League and sent a wrestler from each weight class to the Divisional, paced themselves and passed five on to the next round -- the Masters, which will be hosted by Visalia's Mt. Whitney High School on Saturday, Feb. 23.
Javier Jimenez (106), Gregory Pagela (152) and Contreras - who lost in the 132-pound final by an 8-3 decision to Buchanan's Kyler Hansen - will join Pengilly and Sandoval at the Masters, the final qualifying leg for the state tournament.
"There's a little higher standard," Vanni said. "I'd like to see us do a little bit better. We have that potential to do better than we did today. This is a tough break and it's a tough tournament. I'm pleased with the outcome right now. Our kids are on track and where they need to be."
Tulare County still has a pulse in the high school wrestling postseason.
Porterville's five and six other Tulare County wrestlers advanced to the Masters at Mt. Whitney. Redwood advanced three wrestlers while Monache qualified two.
Masters host Mt. Whitney qualified one representative as Jaime Galvan (195) won his semifinal consolation round match to secure a spot at in front of his home crowd Saturday.
Redwood's Blake Marple (160), Isaiah Torres (113) and Joey Cisneros (106) each landed a coveted top-8 finish in the 32-man bracket tournament to ensure them a spot in next week's tournament. Cisneros placed the highest at fifth. He was one win away from landing a spot in the 106-pound finals against Monache's Matt Gamble, but lost by a 22-9 major decision to the quick and agile Adrian Camposano from Central, the eventual champion.
"I thought they wrestled to their potential," Redwood coach Dave Watts said. "We had some guys that probably a match here and there that they shouldn't have. Joey was a little off this weekend. But everybody else was about where I thought they'd be.
"We have to win one or two matches to make it to state. All these guys are capable of doing it."
Gamble and semifinalist Josh Sibayan (126) will represent the Marauders at the Masters.
The wins Porterville had from Pengilly and Sandoval were Tulare County's marquee highlights.
Sandoval won his match against Clovis West's Chris Garcia with an 11-6 decision.
Pengilly, the undefeated junior ranked No. 1 in the state, squared off against Gaytan in a drawn-out, down-to-the-wire match that saw its only takedown happen a minute, 20 seconds in.
Though there would have been another takedown - a vicious one at that - in the middle of the second period with Pengilly up 2-1.
With both state-ranked wrestlers trying to gain an advantage on one another - a match that saw both sides constantly counter strategic grabs and shoots from one another - it was Pengilly who slipped when he let his guard down for Gaytan to go in for a swift shoot.
A desperation move to escape from Gaytan's grasp only positioned him in an awkward situation, with him midair in his opponent's clutches.
Gaytan did not fully execute a takedown, and lost 3-1.
For Pengilly, this weekend was just a lesson learned for next week.
Pengilly and Gaytan will likely meet again at the Masters next week, and likely the state tournament as well.
"I have to keep the pressure on and I have to watch his high seek because he had me up in the air for 20, 30 seconds where he could've took me down.
"I'll wrestle him next week."
Clovis won the tournament with 297 team points. Porterville finished 7th with 161. Monache placed 11th with 89.5. Redwood placed 18th with 54.
Sierra-Sequoia Divisional Tournament Results
Exeter's Arnulfo Olea (120) finished as the only champion from Tulare County by beating Corcoran's Thomas Benden with a major decision of 17-6.
Dinuba's David Padilla (195) was Tulare County's only other finalist. He was pinned by Washington Union's Gabriel Gonzalez at 5:30.
Woodlake's Nate Mesa (182), Dinuba's Michael Wright (160) and Exeter's Kyle Jones (145) each took third place in their respective weight classes. Dinuba's Arshdeep Dhanda (152) took fourth.
Selma won the tournament with 221 team points. Dinuba placed 9th with 122. Exeter placed 13th with 77.5.