CA places four at NAIA Championships, Vanguard shines with Padilla (2nd) and Fayyazi (4th)

Vanguard Press Release

Senior Frederick Padilla of Vanguard University (Northview HS 2015) finished as 165 lbs. national runner-up at the NAIA Championships, held in Park City, KS.

Seeded 8th, Padilla dominated the rounds leading up to the finals, outscoring his opponents 49-3 (including a 7-0 win over the #1 seed) but dropped a 4-2 decision to Kyle Kirkham of Southeastern in the finals. Fellow teammate, senior Armon Fayyazi (Irvine HS 2015) finished in 4th place at 174 lbs., after dropping a close 4-3 match to Ahser Eichert of Life University in the semifinals. Fayyazi was a returning NAIA medalist – he finished 8th at the same weight class in 2020.

Costa Mesa-based Vanguard also had three other competitors in the draw: junior Nathan Yanez (Yucaipa HS 2018) finished 0-2 at 125, sophomore Gabriel Cortez (Northview HS 2019) finished 1-2 at 141, and freshman Michael Ruiz (Villa Park 2019) finished 0-2 at 285. With Padilla and Fayyazi racking up the points and becoming the two-years-old program’s first All-Americans, Vanguard finished in 14th place out of 52 teams.

Vanguard University with two placers (Padilla and Fayyazi) at NAIA Nationals.

In the team race, Life University (GA) won the NAIA title with 158 points, ending a nine-year title run by Grand View University (IA), who finished in 2nd with 153 points.

Senior Dominick Arellano of Baker University (Northview HS 2016) battled for an 6th place medal at 133 lbs. He lost in the quarterfinals to the #1 seed but clinched an All-American plaque by beating Justin Coon of Southern Oregon 11-5 in the consolation blood round.

Also finishing in 6th place was sophomore John Fox of York College (Gilroy HS 2019). Fox advanced to the semifinals at 149 lbs. but lost to eventual champion Andreus Bond of Southeastern 6-4. He would lose his next two matches to the eventual 3rd and 5th place medalists. Fox was also a 2020 NAIA placer, taking 8th NAIA at 141 lbs. He is the third Fox brother to earn All-American honors, alongside Willie (York, 3rd NAIA 149 in 2016) and Paul (Stanford, 7th NCAA 157 in 2017).

Two wrestlers also lost in the “blood round.” Junior Joel Avila of Providence (La Quinta 2016) finished 2-2 at 125 while sophomore Michael Scarponi of Doane University (Temecula Valley 2019) lost to the eventual 3rd and 5th place medalists at 174 lbs. Both have eligibility remaining so will look for their first All-American plaques next season.

A returning NAIA qualifier, sophomore Tristan Zamilpa of Doane University (Buchanan 2018) finished 2-2 at 149. CA had three wrestlers at 141: along with Vanguard’s Cortez, junior Ivan Gomez of Graceland (Waterford HS 2017) finished 2-2 while senior Christian Mesa of Providence (Sultana HS 2015) finished 1-2.

Junior Dracius McKee of Texas Wesleyan (WC Wood HS 2016) was also a returning NAIA qualifier but finished 0-2 at 165 lbs. Junior Karim Shakur of Missouri Valley (Tamalpais HS 2017) finished with a 1-2 record at 184 lbs. Senior Vernon Willis, Jr. of Indiana Institute of Technology (Carter HS 2015) was 0-2 at 285 lbs. He was also an NAIA qualifier in 2020.

133 pounds

Dominick Arellano

Year: Senior
Seed: #8
School: Baker University (KS)
Conference: 2nd-Heart of America 

Northview HS (Southern, 2016)
2016: CA state qualifier (113)
2015: CA state qualifier (113)

149 pounds

John Fox

Year: Sophomore
Seed: #6
College: York College (NE)
Conference: 1st-KCAC/SAC
2020: 8th NAIA (141)

Gilroy HS (Central Coast, 2019)
2019: 6th CA (145)
2018: CA state qualifier (152)
2017: CA state qualifier (138)
2016: CA state qualifier (126)

165 pounds

Frederick Padilla
Year: Senior (Credential Program)
College: Vanguard University (CA)
Seed: #8
Conference: Cascade Collegiate

Fresno State (CA): 2018-2020
Air Force Academy (CO): 2015-2018

Northview HS (Southern, 2015)
2015: 7th NHSCA Senior Nationals (152)
2015: 6th CA (160)
2014: 8th Flo Nationals (152)
2014: CA state qualifier (152)
2013: CA state qualifier (145)

174 pounds

Armon Fayyazi
Year: Senior
College: Vanguard University (CA)
Seed: #3
Conference: Cascade Collegiate
2020: 8th NAIA (174)

U. of Wyoming (WY): 2017-2019
Santa Ana Junior College
2016: 3rd CA Comm. College (165)
2015: 4th CA Comm. College (165)

Irvine HS (Southern, 2015)
2015: CA state qualifier (170)