LOS ANGELES – One of the toughest tournaments in the Madera County is set to take place this weekend at Madera South High. The 10th Annual Chukchansi tournament will gather teams from the Central, Central Coast, Sac-Joaquin, North Coast, and Northern Sections to compete and be called champions at the conclusion of the event.
Three outstanding wrestlers are returning with high hopes of becoming champions for a second consecutive year. These wrestlers include Dawson Sihavong (Bullard) and the exceptional dual from Frontier in Cole Reyes and Trent Tracy.
Team runner-up Frontier High looks to be the front-runners to win the coveted team title. Right behind them are teams like Bullard, El Capitan, Chico, Lemoore, and North Coast Section Power Liberty High.
This weight class is wide open with the wrestler with the best weekend coming off as the champion. Sophomore, John Valdez (Grace Davis), was seventh at the Sac-Joaquin Section and missed qualifying to the big dance last season. Dominic Mendez (Righetti) is only a freshman with a great wrestling resume. He was the runner-up at Flo Reno Worlds and recently went undefeated the Lemoore Duals. He should be a grappler people should be watching this weekend. A wrestler we can’t forget about is Joseph Pia (El Capitan). He was successful in advancing to the Sac-Joaquin Masters Meet and winning a couple of matches.
Four athletes with state experience are scheduled to participate this weekend. Leading the way is Wyatt Bedrosian (Coalinga) who finished with a 3-2 record at state. He is an experienced veteran in the wrestling mats with a dangerous arsenal of wrestling moves. CIF state qualifier Zachary Thompson (Palma) will be making his first appearance in the Chukchansi tournament along with his teammates. Thompson will be aspiring to win his first tournament of the season. Mission Oak’s Nicholas Bermudez has the potential to reach the finals and climb two spots higher in the podium as he was third in this event at 106-pounds. A wrestler that will take on the role of the bracket buster is CIF state qualifier Armando Martinez of Golden West. Martinez is a returning tournament placer as he was fifth at 106 last season.
Just like the 106-pound weight class, this weight is wide open for any wrestler to win. Leading the way is Dinuba’s, Lorenzo Arreola. Arreola qualified to state out of the tough central section and was second in this event at 113-pounds. Noah Ozuna of Frontier will be in the hunt of claiming his second tournament title of the season after claiming the Rumble for the Rig event on Saturday at Bakersfield High. A true performer of the mats, Ozuna can get takedowns on anyone at will. Wayne Joint of Lemoore is a super rugged sophomore who is ready to make a name for himself at this weight class. He is the younger sibling of current Fresno State starter Gary Joint. Other grapplers who will try and acquire an individual title are North Coast runner-up Cole Gregerson (Liberty (Brentwood)) and freshman phenom, Kimo Leai of Kingsburg.
The 126-pound weight class should be a two-man battle between state medalists Cole Reyes of Frontier and Izzy Tubera of Pitman. Reyes will be aiming to win a second Chukchansi tournament title as he was the champion of this event at 120-pounds. Reyes is a two-time state place winner and currently ranked No. 4 in the state by The California Wrestler. After not competing during the 2017-18 season, Tubera is back ready to regain his championship form. He was seventh in the state at 106 in 2017. If the marquee matchup does occur, it should be worth the price of admission. Jesse Gayton competes for Lemoore High and was a state qualifier last year. Keep an eye on sophomore sensation Carson Prim of Grace Davis. Despite not able to compete during the postseason last season, Prim had a great summer that saw him become an All-American at Fargo.
Two Chukchansi runner-up’s and a state qualifier are scheduled to participate this weekend. Garret Fletcher of Frontier is a two-time state qualifier and was second in this event at this weight class. He has yet to compete as he was absent at the Rumble of the Rig tournament. Expecting to advance to the finals and finally claim a title of his own is Devin Holman of El Capitan. Holman is a state qualifier and was the runner-up at Chukchansi at 126-pounds. Jonathan Viveros competes for the Hammond siblings (Bryce and Coleman) at Kingsburg High. He is also a state qualifier and was fifth at this tournament last year at 120-pounds. Keep an eye on Miguel Juarez of Coalinga who was a central section master meet qualifier.
Sac-Joaquin Masters Meet runner-up Sammy Silveria of Pitman is back in hunt of an individual championship after injury defaulting from this event last season. A leader for the Pitman wrestling team, Silveria will be counted to bring back an individual title to Turlock. Nevertheless, before we can hand him the title, Silveria must work his way throughout the bracket that will include three-time state qualifier Ryan Morphis of Frontier. Morphis is currently ranked top 15 in the state and was fourth in this tournament last year. Don’t oversleep on state qualifier Saul Gonzales of Palma. Gonzales was a Central Coast Section runner-up and won a couple of matches at the state tournament. A wrestler that could be a bracket buster is Chase Aulabaugh of Corning. He was seventh last year in this event at 145-pounds and third at the Northern Section.
This is among the toughest weight classes at the Chukchansi tournament. In fact, several talented wrestlers may not make it to the medal round. Leading this deep weight is Fargo Greco-Roman runner-up Dawson Sihavong of Bullard. The Stanford commit is head-and-shoulders above the rest of the field. Two outstanding grapplers that could move on to the finals of this event are Noah Cortez of Dinuba and Jose Landin of Frontier. Cortez is a talented athlete that was triumphant in placing eighth at the CIF state tournament for the Emperors. He returns to the event after being MIA last year. Landin was a state qualifier last year and is coming off placing fourth at the rugged Rumble for the Rig tournament. Keep an eye on Dominic Leon of Golden Valley who is a state qualifier. He could be the bracket buster of this weight class.
There are five returning CIF state qualifiers from last season in this weight class. Leading the way is Benny Banduenga of Righetti. A state qualifier from the tough Southern Section, Banduenga is a relentless wrestler always working after the takedown. Banduengas likely opponent in the finals could be state qualifier Kendall LaRosa of Pitman. La Rosa was fifth in this event last year and this weight class. Both grapplers are currently ranked top 15 in California. Expect fireworks to happen if the match does take place. Other grapplers that could make an impact on the tournament are Nicholas Zavala of Mission Oak ranked No. 21, North Coast Section Champion Nate Paulson of Liberty, and Zach Soto of Chico who is ranked No. 27 by The California Wrestler.
Despite not having advanced to the big dance, Roman Guillen of Madera South is a formidable opponent as he defeated CIF state qualifier Evan Myrtue of El Capitan last year at the Pitman Rumble Jungle. Myrtue is entered in this event and will be looking to redeem himself. Patrick Garcia (Modesto Christian) is a rugged opponent that placed seventh at the Sac-Joaquin Section. Fans should expect a great weekend from him as he can be a finalist. Two wrestlers from the Central Section that could be making some noise this weekend are Gabriel Salcedo of Mission Oak and Marco Gamez of Firebaugh. Salcedo was tenth at the Yosemite Valley while Gamez was sixth at the Sierra-Sequoia Division.
Get ready wrestling fans, this weight class is going to be wild! The top seed should be Max Aguirre of Frontier. Aguirre was fourth at the state tournament and is currently ranked No. 4 in California at 160. He recently finished third at the Rumble for the Rig tournament at Bakersfield High. Daniel Long of Dinuba is also a state medalist as he was sixth at 170-pounds. He is the No. 4 ranked wrestler at 170 and was third in this event at this weight. An opponent ready to challenge Aguirre and Long is William Kloster of Lemoore. Kloster was a state qualifier where he finished around shy of garnering All-State Honors. He is also ranked top 10 in California as he is ranked No. 6.
The returning Chukchansi champion at 182-pounds Trent Tracy of Frontier is the favorite to repeat this week. A state champion last year, Tracy is considered by its peers as one of the top seniors in the state of California. Bo Jackson of Kingsburg was fourth at this weight class last year, and he is one of the favorites to meet up with Tracy in the finals on Saturday. Luciano Manzo of Chowchilla was a state qualifier and should be in the mix of the contenders to be a high place winner in this tournament. Other wrestlers to look forward in this tournament include Kevin Fernandez (El Capitan), Jaron Azevedo (Pitman), and Bobby McCoy of Chico. Fernandez finished top 12 at the Sac-Joaquin Masters Meet, Azevedo was seventh at this tournament at 195, and McCoy was fourth at the Northern Section Masters.
Two-time North Coast Section Champion Adrian Chavez of Liberty should be the heavy favorite to claim a Chukchansi title this weekend. He comes into the event as the No. 3 ranked wrestler in California at 195-pounds. Javier Cardenas of El Diamante was a state qualifier and will be ready to challenge the opposition for an individual championship. Ty Shepherd of Frontier was in action last weekend where he took second at the Rumble for the Rig tournament in Bakersfield. He was ninth at the Yosemite Valley Division that will be looking to punch his ticket to the state tournament this year. Mauricio Chavez of Tranquility is the lone grappler with a medal from this event as he was sixth at 195-pounds. He was a match shy from advancing to the central section masters meet but should do so this season.
Bullard High could get a second title of the night thanks to CIF state qualifier Tommy Slatic. Slatic was fifth at this event last year, and he is currently the No. 16 ranked wrestler in California. Nevertheless, before we can hand the title to Slatic, he must get through another state qualifier in Mike Lizaola of Palma. Lizaola and his teammates will be competing at the Chukchansi tournament for the first time in their scholastic careers. Keep an eye on Ben Allen of Chico as he could be a potential finalist this weekend. He is a senior for the Panthers and fourth last year at the Northern Section tournament.
North Coast runner-up Wyatt Word of Liberty High will be competing for the first time along with his teammates in this tournament. Big and strong, Word will use his strength to claim an individual title this weekend. Attempting to stop Word from claiming a championship title will be Central Coast Section runner-up Michael Wiley of Los Gatos. With the guidance of former Gilroy coach Greg Varela, Wiley will use his quickness and unorthodox style of wrestling to capture a title of his own. Keep an eye on Ty Lewis of Kingsburg who was eighth at the rugged Five Counties tournament last year.