TCW 2015 California State Wrestling Championship Preview
The Calm Before the Storm
By Michael Cho, Bill Grant, Pablo DiMaria, and Al Fontes
The largest state in the nation naturally owns the largest wrestling population – over 25,000 competitors representing 850+ schools. However, while most states have multi-division state events, California only has a single-division tournament. This weekend, the top 40 wrestlers at each of the 14 individual weight classes will be seeking individual glory – to step atop the medal podium on Saturday night. Rabobank Arena will be the scene of considerable drama with heartbreak and joy accompanying each mat. Who will step up to claim one of the 112 individual medals and 14 individual titles? And from a team standpoint, can anyone stop Clovis HS?
Clovis High School (C) #5 Nation, AWN
CLOVIS – The national powerhouse seeks a FIFTH consecutive state title in 2015. This year may be different – as several programs bring powerful line-ups to Rabobank. But the Cougars qualified all 14 to state, including eight ranked in the top 4. Potential finalists include defending state champ Justin Mejia (113) and every competitor from 152 to heavyweight. Coach Ben Holscher and staff have prepared the team for a historic run – and he believes the process is continuous and ongoing: “We have 40 guys committed in the room to train 10 months out of the year with the expectation to be a state medalist and champion.” Expectations are high but that’s how the Clovis team likes it. Holscher explains, “There are 14 guys on our team with a mission and to achieve it, there are going to be fireworks. It is a two day fight and we are excited for it!” Coach Adam Tirapelle agrees, “We’ve challenged ourselves both in-state and out-of-state and with our local competition being so strong, we’re as prepared as we can be going into this weekend. The key for us is just wrestling to our potential. We have an opportunity to do great things with the same type of focus and intensity we’ve shown all season.”
Poway HS (SD) #12 in the Nation
POWAY – No other team in CA history has owned a section quite like Poway, who is coming off a 28th consecutive San Diego title. The 2009 state champions have finished 3rd and 2nd in the past two years but possess a loaded line-up that will look to chase down Clovis. 13 Titans will compete this weekend, led by their top-ranked trio of Ralphy Tovar (145), defending champion Colt Doyle (160), and undefeated Liam Sorahan (220). Ranked #12 in the country, Coach Wayne Branstetter feels good about his team’s chances and excited about what could unfold, “It’s been a great season being able to win everything we entered so far. The state meet is another ‘animal’ but as always, we hope for every kid to reach his highest potential and then some. If that finds us on top of the podium, so be it.”
Buchanan HS (C) #6 in the Nation
BUCHANAN – A five mile radius in Fresno provides one of the country’s great wrestling communities. Buchanan may be close to Clovis geographically, but also bridging the gap on the wrestling mats. Like Clovis, the Bears will bring 14 competitors to the state meet – including top-ranked Durbin Lloren (120) and an imposing middle-weight and upper-weight crew – and the #6-ranked team in the country will have the firepower to score big points. Though the team has sustained some bumps this year – with key individuals out with injuries, Coach Troy Tirapelle feels his team is starting to come into its own. “Ideally, when you are trying to challenge for the state championship, you would like a team laden with seniors – however things happen and you have to adapt and overcome. We have five freshmen enter the line-up and they do not see themselves as stop-gaps. They want to contribute and show they belong just like anyone else. And they have succeeded.” As for state expectations, it’s a familiar theme for Tirapelle: “We have the same expectations going in every year. Set the standards high and the kids will rise up to the challenge. We have put in the work, now it is time to show what you can do and have fun in front of the Bear Nation Red Army, family, and friends.”
St. John Bosco (S) #4 CA “TCW”
ST JOHN BOSCO – There are rarely sure-things in the sport of wrestling, but St. John Bosco has three of them. Two are closing out historic careers: Zahid and Anthony Valencia are each expected to win their third state titles. Another is beginning what could be an equally historic career: freshman Cade Olivas, the nation’s top competitor at 106 pounds. The combined efforts of three, as well as newcomer Danny Salas (195), should propel the team into the top 5. Coach Omar Delgado explains, “It’s true when people say there is no secret to success in wrestling … you truly have to outwork the competition.” He cites the tremendous careers of the Valencia brothers and the greatness that awaits Olivas: “They are incredible young men of character and faith. The biggest key to their success has been their consistent work ethic that has propelled them to the top of the podium year-after-year. We look forward to having a great state tournament and having all of our boys accomplish their goals and make their dreams come true.”
San Marino HS (S) #5 CA “TCW”
SAN MARINO – Co-Head Coach John Azevedo has one of the most recognizable names in CA wrestling, with considerable success as a competitor (NCAA champion) and coach (seven state titles at Calvary Chapel and multiple All-Americans at Cal Poly SLO). Now in his third year at San Marino, he has led the program to a meteoric rise as a legitimate contender for a top 5 finish. The Titans brings six to state (all underclassmen) and the coaching staff believe they are ready, physical and mentally. Azevedo explains, “We [the coaches] want our kids to believe that no one’s working harder or smarter than they are – to make them believe they can do it. It’s a continual process but they are getting better and closer. We haven’t really talked about how we will do as a team but we want each of our wrestlers to do the best they can. The team is excited because they know they have done all it takes to win.”
Bakersfield HS (C) #6 CA “TCW”
BAKERSFIELD – The last program to claim the state team title outside Clovis was Bakersfield in 2010. Though young, the Drillers are looking to regain their powerhouse status. They bring 12 wrestlers to the state meet (only four seniors). After state runner-up finishes in 2011 and 2012, as well as top 10 finishes the past two years, Bakersfield will be position to claim a team trophy this year. Coach Frank Lomas likes his team’s chances: “We’ve had our fair share of ups and down individually like any other team but right now, our wrestlers are competing and wrestling like we want them to – they understand that everything that happened in the past does not matter and all the really matters is this weekend. Giving 100% and fighting in every match and in every position is all we ask for as coaches. We are excited to get out and wrestle at Rabobank in front of the home crowd.”
Other teams to watch include Gilroy (Central Coast), Selma (Central), Folsom (Sac Joaquin), Mission Oak (Central), Santiago (Southern), Dinuba (Central), Del Oro (Sac Joaquin), Northview (Southern), and De La Salle (North Coast).
106 – CADE OLIVAS – St. John Bosco HS (S) #1 CA/#1 Nation/6x All-American/3rd Cadet World
Leading a talented pack of no less than five National All-Americans is phenom Cade Olivas (St. John Bosco, Fr.), who will begin his quest this weekend to win his first state title. Though new to the HS game, he has already accumulated a resume that would be the envy of most HS seniors – in 2014, he traveled half-way around the world to represent the Youth Olympics and earned the silver medal. Olivas also won gold at the prestigious Super 32, Walsh Ironman in Ohio, and has dominated the CA wrestling scene – his closest match against a CA opponent has been by seven points. Fellow multi-All American Randon Miranda (Quartz Hill, Sr.) will look to challenge Olivas for the state title. Miranda pulled off a rare trio by winning national titles last year in freestyle, folkstyle, and Greco-Roman. Isaiah Perez (Dinuba, So.) leads a strong Central group – he enters the state meet undefeated on the year. Central runner-up Ethan Leake (Buchanan, Fr.), two-time state qualifier Bryce Morita (Clovis West, Sr.), Izzak Olejnik (Bakersfield, Fr.), and Wyatt Cornelison (Clovis, Sr.) have taken turns this year beating one another. A pair of Sac Joaquin stalwarts are threats – two-time section champion Jordan Aquino (Vacaville, Sr.) and the rival he beat for those titles, Christian Ramos (Benicia, Sr.). Both have attained All-American status in previous years. Others to watch are Liam Cronin (Servite, Jr.), Dexter Viengvilay (Laguna Hills, Sr.), Nico Gomez (Montebello, Sr.), and double National Cadet champion Nicolas Aguilar (Gilroy, Fr.). Also keep an eye on San Diego champion Chase Zollman (Poway, Fr.) and Aaron Perez (James Logan, Fr.).
113 – JUSTIN MEJIA – Clovis HS (C) #1 CA/#2 Nation/FLO All-American
Defending state champion and Flo National All-American Justin Mejia (Clovis, So.) will be the strong favorite for the crown. With only one loss in his high school career, Mejia has already signed a letter of intent to wrestle at the University of Iowa – before his sophomore season even began! A talented crew from his section will eye the medal podium including returning state medalist and Central runner-up Javier Alaniz (Clovis West, Jr.), returning medalist and three-time state qualifier David Campbell (Mission Oak, Jr.) – who has three losses to Mejia this season but has shown the rare ability to stay close – Central bronze medalist Tommy Ortiz (RF Kennedy, Sr.), newcomer Chris Gaxiola (Buchanan, Fr.), and Cadet All-American Andrew Nelms (Porterville, Sr.). National All-American and section champion Zander Silva (San Marino, So.) leads a hungry group from the South which includes runner-up and two-time state qualifier David Gonzales (San Dimas, Jr.), Ryan Gutierrez (Brea Olinda, Jr.), Alejandro Hernandez (Hesperia, Jr.), Alex Nunez (Alta Loma, So.), and Jeremy Trinh (Oxnard, So.). Donovin Guerrero (De La Salle, Jr.) claimed his second North Coast title and will be making his third trip to state. Others to watch include Sac Joaquin champion Landon McBride (Del Oro, Jr.), San Diego finalists Jason Chua (Poway, Jr.) and Kai Kramer (La Costa Canyon, Jr.), Jacob Seto (Elk Grove, So.), and two-time state qualifier Logan Eaton (Oakdale, Sr.).
120 – DURBIN LLOREN – Buchanan HS (C) #1 CA/#9 Nation/FLO & NHSCA All-American
120 – DEVAN TURNER – Dixon HS (SJ) #2 CA
Durbin Lloren (Buchanan, Jr.) has earned two state medals in two previous trips to the state meet but the NHSCA All-American will seek his first title. His only loss this year has been to Modesto superstar Israel Saavedra at a higher weight. However, this difficult weight class hosts five All-Americans and six returning state medalists – parity is certainly the operative word for this weight. But a competitor without a previous state medal – Devan Turner (Dixon, Jr.), may be Lloren’s primary threat. All-American and returning medalist Navonte Demison (Bakersfield, So.), two-time state medalist and NHSCA national champion Nico Colunga (Oakdale, Sr.), Central Coast champion and returning medalist Isaiah Palomino (Bellarmine, So.), as well as returning medalist Tristan Gilliland (Clovis, Sr.) will all look to for a high place on the state podium. Cadet All-American Chris Deloza (Clovis North, So.) has put together an outstanding season and a potential dark-horse is a competitor who shouldn’t be classified as such – returning state finalist Robert Garcia (Selma, So.). Out for most of the season, Garcia is looking to peak at the right time. Others to watch include Southern champion Richard Casillas (Northview, Jr.), San Diego champion Brandon Kier (Poway, Jr.), and a battle-tested pair from Los Angeles City, Andres Lopez (San Fernando, Sr.) and Abbas Khan (El Camino Real, Sr.).
126 – ISRAEL SAAVEDRA – Modesto HS (SJ) #1 CA/#2 Nation/5x FLO & Super 32 All-American
Head-and-shoulders above a crowded field is two-time state champion and five-time Flo Nationals and Super 32 All-American Israel Saavedra (Modesto, Jr.) who is still on track to be only the second wrestler in CA history to win four state titles. He still has plenty of work to do but his junior campaign has been outstanding – dominating in-state competition from day one. San Diego champion Daxton Gordon (Brawley, Sr.) will be making his second state trip and after competing much of the season at a higher weight class – very successfully – has dropped down to 126. Southern champion Eric Reyes (Yucaipa, Sr.) is also making his second state appearance and among those favored to win a high medal. He defeated returning state medalist Russell Rohlfing (Sonora, Sr.) in the Southern semifinals. JJ Figueroa (Bakersfield, So.) won his second consecutive Central title and will be considered a threat. Two Sac Joaquin foes expected to produce are four-time state qualifier and returning medalist Anthony Hernandez (Vacaville, Sr.) and three-time state qualifier Curtis Booth (Folsom, Jr.). Two-time San Diego runner-up Scott Kiyono (Poway, So.) lost in OT to Gordon recently and should be in fine form this weekend. Others to watch are four-time state qualifier Nathan Cervantes (De La Salle, Sr.), Southern finalist Noah Blakely-Beanes (Servite), Dylan Martinez (Clovis, Jr.), two-time state qualifier Anthony Wesley (Jesuit, Sr.), two-time state qualifier Trevor Williams (Oakdale, Jr.), three-time state qualifier Jared Luty (American, Jr.), Central runner-up Fernando Perez (Foothill, Sr.), and four-time state qualifier Jesse Vasquez (Gilroy, Sr.) .
132 – JADEN ENRIQUEZ – Mission Oak HS (C) #1 CA/#18 Nation/7X Cadet & NHSCA All-American
126 – ANGEL VELASQUEZ – Pitman HS (SJ) #2 CA/FLO All-American
This weight class has it all – phenoms, accomplished seniors making their final trip to state, and everything in between. It’s difficult to identify the clear favorite going in but a couple names should resonate this weekend. Jaden Enriquez (Mission Oak, So.) has placed at seven national-level tournaments during his career (in folkstyle, freestyle, and Greco-Roman. After a fourth-place finish at last year’s state meet, expectations are huge. However, he was upset in the Central semifinals this past weekend by NHSCA All-American Greg Gaxiola (Buchanan, Jr.), who’s making his third trip to the state meet. Though Enriquez has won two of three match-ups this season, his recent loss represents the relative wide-open nature of this weight class. Angel Velsaquez (Pitman, Sr.) missed the first half of the season but has come back strong – the returning state medalist and Flo National All-American is undefeated. Phenom Alex Felix (Gilroy, Fr.) has all the tools to become the next great Gilroy star and the Central Coast champion will look to make considerable waves during his first state appearance. Julian Flores (San Marino, Jr.) wants to close his illustrious prep career with a state title, having finished fifth the previous two seasons. The same applies to fellow NHSCA All-American Carlos Herrera (Bakersfield, Sr.), who looks to improve on his sixth place finish in 2014. Others to watch include Southern runner-up Josh Kawaguchi (Sonora, Jr.), returning state medalist and two-time San Diego champion Manny Lair (Poway, Sr.), dangerous three-time state qualifier Aaron Mora (Clovis West, Sr.), Central runner-up Brandon Martino (Clovis, So.), and three-time Fargo All-American Armand Molina (Firebaugh, Sr.).
138 – WYATT WYKCOFF – Paradise HS (N) #1 CA/#16 Nation/Jr All-American
145 – McCOY KENT – Enochs HS (SJ) #2 CA/#8 Nation/Doc Buchanan Champion
The elite of this weight features some of the most accomplished competitors in the state. Wyatt Wykcoff (Paradise, Sr.) has made the state finals as a sophomore and junior – and now wants to climb to the top of the podium this year. He will be challenged by McCoy Kent (Enochs, Sr.), a returning third place state medalist, who has only one loss this year – a double OT result to Modesto’s Saveedra in a dual meet. Khristian Olivas (Clovis, Sr.) is making his third trip to state and the Flo Nationals All-American and will be looking to earn his second state medal. Until defaulting in the Central Section finals, Olivas was undefeated this season. Three-time state qualifier Ruben Garcia (Selma, Jr.) finished sixth at state last year and after missing most of the season, is looking to round into shape after winning titles at recent league, divisional, and section tournaments. The same applies to Evan Wick (San Marino, Jr.), a three-time Southern finalist and returning state medalist. The sixth returning state medalist in this weight is Joshy Cortez (Temecula Valley, Sr.) who is making his fourth trip to state and has not lost to in-state competition this season. Others to watch include Central Coast champion Ian Cramer (Gunn, Sr.), two-time state qualifier Trevor Perez (Mater Dei, Sr.), San Diego champion and runner-up Alec Baker (La Costa Canyon, Jr.) and DJ Garcia (Poway, So.), two-time state qualifier Mason Boutain (Benicia, Jr.), and three-time state qualifier Dean Esquibel (Buchanan, Sr.).
145 – RALPHY TOVAR – Poway HS (SD) #1 CA/#19 Nation/FLO & NHSCA All-American
With five returning medalists, this weight group is among the most well balanced in the state. The leader here is two-time state medalist, Ralphy Tovar (Poway, Sr.). Determined to reach the top podium, Tovar put in a great deal of mat time during the post season, earning himself All-American honors at both the FLO and NHSCA Nationals. The Southern Section has strong representation with five medal contenders. They include section runner-up, Jeremy Thomas (Santiago, Jr.), a Cadet All-American and 3rd place medalist at the Walsh Ironman in Ohio. With a similar resume, Zander Wick (San Marino, Jr.) earned the top spot in the section and is a two-time Folkstyle All-American. Returning state medalist and Cadet All-American, Joseph Dominguez (Northview, Sr.) is very determined to reach the championship finals. Niguel Ruiz (Bishop Amat, Sr.) is a returning state medalist and also finished 4th at the highly competitive Doc Buchanan. Sophomore stand-out Anthony Mantanona (Palm Desert, So.) is a two-time state qualifier and All-American – he looks primed for a breakthrough. Others to watch include state medalist and NHSCA All-American Conner Francis (Buchanan, Jr.), state medalist Tanner Robison (Del Oro, Sr.), Sac Joaquin champion Brandon Claiborne (Oak Ridge, Jr), Central champion Jared Hill (Clovis, Jr.), Sac-Joaquin runner-up Reece Chew (Kimball, Sr.), and North Coast champion Michael Klee (Cardinal Newman, Sr.).
152 – JUSTIN THOMAS – Santiago HS (S) #1 CA/2x State Medalist & Cadet All-American
Please hold onto your seats – this is going to be an interesting ride! With five returning state medalists, parity reigns in this highly competitive weight class. Among the favorites to watch is two-time state placer and Cadet All-American, Justin Thomas (Santiago, Sr.) along with Southern champ and Cadet All-American, Luke Troy (San Marino, So.). The road to the finals gets even bumpier with the strong representation from the Central Section. Coming off an outstanding performance at the divisional tournament, Central champion Joseph Jauregui (Clovis East, Sr.) will challenge, as well as returning medalist and NHSCA All-American, Abner Romero (Buchanan, Jr.) and cross-town rival, Isaiah Hokit (Clovis, Sr.), a three-time state medalist. Other returning state medalists includes Central Coast champion Jacob Thalin (Santa Teresa, Sr.) and four-time Northern champ, John Leal (Chico, Sr.). The largest obstacle within the road to the medal stand for all could perhaps be Sac Joaquin champion, Zack Velasquez (Ponderosa, Sr.). A state qualifier in 2014, Velasquez is undefeated on the season and has made his presence known with individual titles at Sierra Nevada, Temecula Valley, and Doc Buchanan. Others to watch include North Coast champion Dominic DuCharme (Windsor, Jr.), Southern bronze medalist, Kenneth Kirk (Elsinore, Sr.), and two-time Sac Joaquin finalist Romeo Medina (Merced, Sr.).
160 – COLT DOYLE – Poway HS (SD) #1 CA/#19 Nation
Considering the pedigree of the competitors, this weight is another among the many well-balanced groups in CA. The favorite to repeat is defending state champion, Colt Doyle (Poway, Sr.). Currently undefeated, Doyle is determined to bring home a second title. Close behind and a strong contender to reach the finals is returning state medalist and three-time NHSCA All-American, Lorenzo De La Riva (Folsom, Sr.). Winner of Temecula Valley, his only season losses were to Velasquez of Ponderosa, who moved down to 152. Dominic Kincaid (Clovis, Sr.) is a two-time Central champion and making his third trip to the state meet. After coming up short last season, he looks ready to make a run at the title. Two-time Southern champion Ricky Padilla (Northview, Sr.) is also making his third trip to state and like Kincaid, the NHSCA All-American is looking for his first medal. The Central section has two other medal hopefuls in Cadet All-American Sam Loera (Bakersfield, So.) and standout freshman Anthony Montalvo (Buchanan, Fr.). Alex Garcia (Christopher, Sr.) won his first Central Coast title after back-to-back runner-ups and the returning 6th place state medalist will look to earn a higher placing. Others to watch include two-time San Diego runner-up Kenneth Moore (Hoover, Sr.), two-time Southern runner-up Caleb Wilson (Hemet, Sr.), and North Coast champion Beau Colombini (Windsor, Jr.), whose father Brett won a state title in 1990 for Ukiah.
170 – ANTHONY VALENCIA – St. John Bosco HS (S) #1 CA/#2 Nation/12x All-American
Arizona State-bound and 2014 FILA Jr. World Team Member Anthony Valencia (St. John Bosco, Sr.) is the clear-cut favorite to win his third state title and make a rare fourth finals appearance. A phenomenal wrestler on his feet, Valencia – along with his brother Zahid – could go down as one of the best wrestlers in our state’s history. A true fan favorite, his blast double takedown has been described as an incoming freight train coming at you without brakes. Two outstanding wrestlers that will test Valencia are returning medalists Josh Hokit (Clovis, Jr.) and Andrew Morgan (Fountain Valley, Sr.). Hokit finished fifth at state last year as a sophomore. Morgan finished seventh the year before but has elevated his skills this season – he will be a major obstacle. Mark Penyacsek (Gilroy, Sr.) and Michael Wright (Dinuba, Sr.) are long-time state participants looking to earn their first medals. Others to watch are two-time state qualifier Mike Marshall (San Clemente, Sr.), Cade Belshay (Buchanan, So.), Sac Joaquin champion Abel Garcia (Oakdale, So.), and two-time state qualifier Mason Koshiyama (Folsom, Sr.), who was a match away from the medal rounds last year.
182 – ZAHID VALENCIA – St. John Bosco HS (S) #1 CA/#1 Nation/7x All-American
Four-time winner of the Walsh Ironman in Ohio and three-time Fargo National champion, Zahid Valencia (St. John Bosco, Sr.) has displayed incredible versatility this year as he has moved up from the 132 pound weight class as a junior to become a dominant 182 pounder for his senior campaign. Arizona State-bound, Valencia will be seeking his third state title this weekend and cement his place among CA prep legends. Trying to block Valencia from his third title is A.J. Nevills (Clovis, Jr.). The Nevills name is synonymous to the sport of wrestling, as his two elder brothers (Zach and Nick) were state champions. A.J. is a returning state medalist and comes into the state meet as the No. 2 ranked competitor. Two San Diego wrestlers will also contend – Chasen Blair (Rancho Bernardo, So.) and Andrew Tausch (Poway, Sr.). Julio Fuentes (Golden Valley, Sr.) was runner-up to Nevills at the Central finals and will be making his second trip to the state meet. Others to watch are two-time state qualifier Roman Romero (McNair, Jr.), Central Coast champ Christian Murabito (Saratoga, Sr.), North Coast champion Grant Farris (Liberty, Sr.), Seth Avis (Casa Robles, Sr.), and a strong contingent from the Southern Section – LeAngelo White (Western, Sr.), Michael Vasquez (Servite, Sr.), Stone Escobedo (Fountain Valley, Sr.), Jake Wood (Newbury Park, Sr.), and Derek Abeln (Roosevelt, Sr.).
195 – AUSTIN FLORES – Clovis North HS (C) #1 CA/FLO & NHSCA All-American
The Central Section is well-represented here with arguably four of the top five competitors hailing from that area. Stanford-bound Austin Flores (Clovis North, Sr.) leads the group and has been on fire since his outstanding fifth place finish at the Walsh Ironman. He won the Doc Buchanan and Temecula Valley titles and has several wins over the #2 and #3 ranked wrestlers. Flores will try to win a coveted state title this season – his older brother Ryan was a two-time state champion for Buchanan in 2006 and 2007. Two-time state qualifier Adam Prentice (Clovis, Sr.) has lost to Flores in three consecutive weekends in the TRAC, Yosemite Valley, and Central Section finals but the score-lines are getting closer – losses by 5 points, 2 points, and 1 point – and he hopes that trend continues to his benefit at the state meet. Fresno State-bound Alec Gamboa (Madera, Sr.) owns a pair of state medals and will look to earn his third this weekend and avenge season losses to Flores and Prentice. Rounding out the Central quartet is Young Woo An (Buchanan, Sr.), a three-time state qualifier who is looking to break through and work towards the medal podium. Another returning state medalist is Matt Penyacsek (Gilroy, Sr.), who recently captured his second Central Coast title. Others to watch include Southern champion and two-time state qualifier Tristin Sutton (Hemet, Sr.), Southern runner-up Robert Castro (Bloomington, Sr.), two-time state qualifier Ryker Coppa (Marina, Sr.), two-time state qualifier Karson Block (Atascadero, Sr.) – who was a match away from placing last year – two-time San Diego champion Chris Bailey (Poway, Jr.), two-time state qualifier Willie Amen (Las Lomas, Sr.), Danny Salas (St. John Bosco, So.), Sac Joaquin champion Jay Johnson (Buhach Colony, Sr.), and Los Angeles City champion Rory McClellan (El Camino Real, Sr.).
220 – LIAM SORAHAN – Poway HS (SD) #1 CA
220 – SETH NEVILLS – Clovis HS (C) #2 CA/Doc Buchanan Champion
Undefeated heading into the final weekend of the season, Liam Sorahan (Poway, Sr.) has a great opportunity to become the next state champion for Poway. A great wrestler from a great family will challenge for the state title – Seth Nevills (Clovis, Fr.). Only a freshman, Seth could make history in California by winning a state title at 220 pounds. He, too, enters the state meet without a single loss to his name. This weight class has been historically wide-open so any number of different wrestlers can find themselves on the state podium on Saturday. Two-time Los Angeles City champion Davit Stepanyan (Birmingham, Jr.) will be contention – this season, he owns wins over the North Coast, Sac Joaquin, and Southern Section champions. Bevan Ybarra-Brandt (Bullard, Jr.) finished second at the Central Section and his only season losses have been to Nevills. Two outstanding wrestlers making their third trips to the state meet are Kai Dill (Buchanan, Sr.) and Robert Barrios (Sierra Pacific, Sr.). Both were a match away from the medal round at last year’s tournament. Others to watch include two-time Southern champion David Vanweems (Centennial Corona, Sr.), two-time state qualifier Sai Ta’amu (Elk Grove, Sr.), three-time state qualifier Jacob Lopez (Ridgeview, Sr.), Sac Joaquin finalists Jerod Nooner (Folsom, Sr.) and Kyle Jennings (Ponderosa, Jr.), North Coast champion Darryl Aiello (De La Salle, So.), three-time state qualifier David Padilla (Dinuba, Sr.), and two-time state qualifier Cody Fahamokioa (Rancho Cucamonga, Sr.).
285 – JOSE ALVAREZ – Selma HS (C) #1 CA
This weight class has no clear favorite but several competitors who could challenge for the spotlight finals on Saturday. The #1-ranked competitor for most of the season, Jose Alvarez (Selma, Sr.) returns as the highest medal winner from 2014 (he finished 5th) – however, speaking to the uncertainty of the weight class, he was beaten in the Central quarterfinals and had to fight back to finish 3rd. Two Sac Joaquin wrestlers also return as medalists from 2014 – long-time nemeses Jake Minshew (Casa Roble, Sr.) and Dominic Balmer (Woodcreek, Sr.). Minshew enters the state meet undefeated and beat Balmer in the Sac Joaquin finals. Balmer was unbeaten this season up until his loss in the section finals. Hexton Coronado (Clovis, Sr.) will be making his second trip to the state meet and has only one loss this year to in-state competition. Beating Alvarez at the section tournament will provide Coronado with plenty of confidence heading into the final weekend of the season. Abraham Ochoa (Yorba Linda, Sr.) won his first Southern title after finishing runner-up last season. He also enters the state meet with only a single blemish on his record. Others to watch include Jarrod Snyder (Frontier, Sr.), Central Coast champion Christian Rebottaro (Monte Vista Christian, Jr.) – who upset Alvarez at Doc Buchanan – Central runner-up Casey Jones (Sierra, Sr.), Los Angeles City champion Kenny Jones (Palisades, Sr.), Southern runner-up David Eubanks (Temescal Canyon, Sr.), and two-time state qualifier Mike McCauley (Vacaville, Jr.).