The regular high school season will end with a bang as one of the golden state’s toughest regular season tournaments takes place this Friday and Saturday at Gilroy High, home of the fifteen times Central Coast section champions. Five teams entered in the competition at ranked via Intermat in their Fab 50 Team Rankings – Poway, Tuttle (Oklahoma), Selma, Oakdale, and Gilroy.
Returning team champions Poway High, out of the San Diego area, are ready to acquire a second consecutive team title as they won this event last year with 312 points, 26 more points than team runner-up Tuttle (Oklahoma). However, don’t count Tuttle out of the team race as they returned many outstanding athletes with state and national experience.
As for individual wrestlers, Nicholas Aguilar of Gilroy (120) will attempt and make his fourth trip to the finals this week, and claim a third Mic Cals title; Nicholas finished as the runner-up during his freshman season. In hunt of their second straight championship title are Colbey Harlan (Oakdale) and Tony Andrade (Gilroy). Both are registered at 195-pounds and could eventually meet up in the finals.
The predicted winner in this weight class looks to be Richard Figueroa (Selma). Only a freshman, Richard is ranked No. 1 in the state via The California Wrestler, and No. 4 in the country by Intermat. Figueroa is undefeated in the golden state, with both of his losses being to out of state opponents at the prestigious Walsh Jesuit Ironman tournament. Garret Steidley will be making this debut this weekend for Tuttle High. Last year, he finished second at the Oklahoma 6A state tournament while competing for Edmond Memorial. Carlos Negrete (Clovis North) is also a top freshman that has placed at such events as Walsh Jesuit Ironman, the Zinkin Classic, and the always tough Doc Buchanan tournament. He could be a potential finalist with the right mindset and attitude. Another rugged freshman that is shaking up the state rankings is Jayden Gomez (Gilroy). Gomez has four tournament titles under his belt and could eventually collect another title this weekend. Fans in attendance should keep an eye on Blake Fredrickson (Windsor) who is a North Coast section medalist and was a double Fargo All-American during the summertime. He is coming off from winning the Tim Brown Invitational at 113-pounds.
Three returning Mid Cals medalist return in quest of claiming an individual title and help their team achieve greatness. The highest returning wrestler in the field is Carson Sauriol (Poway) who was second last season to Nicholas Aguilar (Gilroy). Carson is having another outstanding season for the Titans. Nevertheless, his teammate (Jason Miranda) is making a serious case for him to be the starter at 113-pounds after haven beating the No. 1 and No. 2 ranked wrestlers in the state in a short span of one week. Tristan Lujan (Selma) is a returning state medalist that finished top 12 at 106-pounds. So far, this season, he has either won or placed at such events as Bakersfield Rumble, Zinkin Classic, Doc Buchanan, and the Five Counties tournament. He was also a match from placing at the Walsh Jesuit Ironman tournament this season. Eric Sanchez (Silver Creek) was eighth at 106-pounds last season and he is a two-time state qualifier.
The 120-pound weight class is by far the deepest in the tournament with five wrestlers that were state champions or place winners in their respective state tournaments. Nicholas Aguilar (Gilroy) should be the odds-on favorite to try and captured his third Mid Cals title. The University of
Rutgers signee had a setback two weeks ago at the Battle for the Belt as he finished third in the tournament after losing in the semifinal round to Jacob Allen (Poway). Naval Academy recruit Allen, is feeling confident that he can do it once again and claim an individual title of his own; Allen was third in this tournament last year at 106-pounds. Aguilar and Allen will not go untested though and one of the wrestlers looking to pick both off is Rhett Golowenski (Tuttle). Golowenski was second last year in the tournament at 120-pounds. He has signed with Appalachia State and he is a three-time Oklahoma state champion and a former Fargo All-American. Aguilar, Allen, and Golowenski may also receive a test from Cole Reyes (Frontier) who is a Doc Buchanan and Battle for the Belt tournament and was fourth at the CIF state tournament. Devin Murphy (Clovis North) is as dangerous as they come and don’t look past Henry Porter (Oakdale) who is having a great season as a freshman. We should also keep an eye on Dakota Unpingco (Freedom) who is a North Coast section champion and owns a win over Murphy this season.
This weight class is loaded with talent but after his incredible performance at Doc Buchanan, Ryan Franco (Clovis North) has to be considered the favorite. In the quarterfinal round of Doc Buchanan, he almost handed state champion Cleveland Belton (St. John Bosco) his first loss of the season to a California wrestler. There are several wrestlers who will push Franco, namely two-time state qualifier Angelo Martinoni (Folsom) who is down a weight class after mainly competing at 132-pounds and Ryder Ramsey (Tuttle) who was a third-place finisher at the Oklahoma state tournament. We should also keep our eye on Kyle Parco (De La Salle) who was a state qualifier last season for San Ramon Valley. This should be his second tournament wearing a De La Salle singlet. Some other studs at 126 include state qualifiers Chase Saldate (Gilroy) and Cameron Santiago (Poway).
University of Wyoming recruit Chase Zollman (Poway) was a Battle for the Belt tournament finalist and is currently ranked No. 12 in the nation by Intermat at 132 and thus, making him one of the favorites at this weight. Three-time state place winner Alex Felix (Gilroy) is down a weight class after competing at 138 for most of the season. A potential finals match could take place this weekend between these two gladiators. Lajon Grier (Clovis North) and Dwayne Guerrero (De La Salle) are both very solid wrestlers and will be in the hunt. Don’t sleep on Lokahi Tonge (Elk Grove) who is a two-time state qualifier and has been solid for the The Thundering Herd.
Two wrestlers ranked in the country could potentially meet in the finals of the tournament this weekend. Dawson Sihavong (Bullard) showed great discipline on the mat last year as he was successful in placing sixth at state and third at Fargo in the Greco-Roman portion of the tournament. He has one blemished in his record this season and has won four tournament titles for the Knights. Luke Surber (Tuttle) is up four weight classes after placing third at 113-pounds. He is a returning state champion and recently placed second at the Geary Invitational, considered by many as the toughest tournament in the state of Oklahoma. Don’t count out former state place winners Ricky Torres (Oakdale) and Dalton Lakmann (Foothill)as both are battle-tested and placed at this event last season. Others to watch here include Ryley Boutain (Benicia) who placed third last season and Elijah Blake (Del Oro) who advanced to the state tournament.
Another very loaded weight class but the favorite has to be Cadet Greco-Roman World team member Peyton Omania (De La Salle). The two-time state medalist just won the Battle for the Belt tournament and he is ranked in the country. He will, however, get pushed by several capable wrestlers. Brady DeArmond (Tuttle) placed in this tournament last year and was second at the Oklahoma state tournament, he will definitely challenge here as well San Diego section champion Josh Tolentino (Poway). Julian Beltran (Bullard) is a returning state qualifier and recently placed second at the Firebaugh Westside tournament. Other to look forward in the tournament include Trent Silva (Windsor), Nahele Tonge (Elk Grove), and Zach Watts of Clovis North.
There is plenty of talent at 152 but the odds-on favorite has to be 2017 state medalist and currently undefeated in California, Domonic Mata (Poway). Mata is currently ranked No. 1 in the latest state rankings and is the most decorated wrestler in the field in both freestyle and folkstyle. A real tough battle should occur in the semifinals between John Fox (Gilroy) and Jace Luchau (Selma). Fox was the runner-up in this tournament last year at 138-pounds and he is a Central Coast section champion. Luchau is having a great year since the summertime when he gathered double All-American status at Fargo. Both athletes have met once this season with Fox obtaining the 4-3 victory. Acalanes Jeremy Ridge is also at 152 and will contend for a title here. Other wrestlers to keep an eye on include J.T. Stinson (Del Oro), Anthony Velazquez (Pacheco), Hassan Khan (Elk Grove), and Vito Cuttone (Clovis North).
Dustin Plott (Tuttle) is a returning state place winner and a former Fargo All-American. He is currently ranked in the country and should be one of the favorites in this weight class. However, we cannot count out two-time state medal winner Noah Blake (Del Oro) who is having a great season and looked great at the Doc Buchanan tournament. This will not be a two-horse race however! Beau Bradley (Monache) is as tough as they come, and you can’t look past Oscar Diaz (Selma), or Calvin Naraghi (Poway). De La Salle senior Ankhaa Enkhmandakh (De La Salle) was fifth at the Battle for the Belt tournament and has looked very solid this year. Also, definitely keep an eye on Nathaniel Villarreal (Gilroy) who has been wrestling solid this season.
This is definitely one of the most wide-open weight classes in the tournament with several wrestlers entered with a legitimate chance at winning! The leader of the pack should be Carson Berryhill (Tuttle). Berryhill was fifth in this tournament last year and an Oklahoma state champion in Class 5A to finish the season 40-11. Trent Tracy (Frontier) holds the No. 2 spot in the state rankings and was a state qualifier last year at 145-pounds. He has four tournament titles under his belt and was fourth at the Doc Buchanan tournament. Mark Cardwell (Monache) is another grappler that could eventually win a Mid Cals tournament title this weekend. An injury last year at the state tournament prevented him from reaching the podium. Oakdale High junior Gabe Martinez keeps getting better and will likely place high in this weight class. Joseph Barnes (Gilroy) is a returning state medalist and was a runner-up in this tournament last year at 160. His season hasn’t been the best, but I am sure he will be ready to compete for a tournament title this week.
There are a few guys in contention here, but we have to consider Nathan Tausch (Poway) the favorite at 182. He was third in this tournament last season and he is currently the No. 2 ranked wrestler in the state. He has looked strong and ready to challenge for a state title this year. Nevertheless, don’t count out two-time Central Coast section champion Matthew Martinez of Alvarez High. Last year, both athletes met in the semifinal round, with Martinez getting the win after pinning Tausch in one minute and seventeen seconds. This is Martinez first time competing at 182-pounds. Look out for two-time state qualifier Quinn Simard (Shasta) who has been wrestling quite well as of late. His only in-state loss occurred in the finals of the Oakdale James Riddle Classic. We can’t count out North Coast section champion Jack Kilner (Granada) who was third at the Zinkin Classic and fifth at Cerritos TOC. A few others who will definitely contend for a medal here are David Vardanyan (Bullard), Trent Lindsey (Clovis North), and Cody Golding of Oakdale.
195 is another weight where several wrestlers will be in contention for the title but let’s begin with a possible matchup of last year’s finals between Ryan Reyes (Clovis West) and Antonio Andrade (Gilroy). Both athletes met in the finals of this event with Andrade not just winning the match in this tournament, but also at state. Nevertheless, Reyes worked his butt off during the off-season and was able to revenge the loss to Andrade and beat him 3-2 in the semifinals of the Doc Buchanan tournament. This will be their second meeting of the season and the winner should solidify the No. 2 ranking in the state. A wrestler that will play the part of the spoiler is Joe Miller of McQueen, Nevada. Miler was third in this weight class and then went on to claim a state title. He is coming off from placing third at the Battle for the Belt tournament. Let’s not sleep on state qualifiers Breck Jeffus (Turlock), Kyle Richards (Folsom), and Feliciano Takafua (Freemont); as these wrestlers are ranked top 10 in the state.
A possible preview of the Central Coast section finals could take place this weekend between the No. 1 ranked wrestler in the state Victor Jaquez (Bellarmine Prep) and Nicholas Villarreal (Gilroy). Jaquez is still undefeated on the season and has four tournament titles under his belt. Nicholas Villarreal (Gilroy) is only a sophomore who began competing at 285-pounds, but now has find his ideal weight class in the 220-pound division. Both grapplers met last week at the finals of the Overfelt Classic where Villareal loss the match 5-1. Javier Espinoza competes for national power Poway High and just finished seventh at the Battle for the Belt tournament. Look for Isaiah Martin (Garces Memorial) to do some damage this weekend and improve on his state ranking. Let’s not forget about Tommy Slatic (Bullard) who looked impressive at the Battle for the Belt tournament and wound up in fifth place.
There is only one wrestler entered in the bracket that placed in this tournament last season – Trey Mason (Tuttle). Mason, was an Oklahoma state qualifier and placed fourth in this event last year. He is currently one of the favorites this year in Class 5A to win an individual state championship. Xavier Moran who is now competing at Selma High, after transferring from Kingsburg, is a rugged individual who was a CIF state qualifier last year. Andrew Johnson (Poway) is only ranked No. 14 in the state. However, don’t let that fool you as he owns a win over No. 5 Austin Gillham of Sultana. A few others to watch here are state qualifier Anthony Gomez (Christopher) and Cohle Feliciano (Freemont) who defeated Gomez last week in the finals of the 54th Annual Overfelt Classic.