Cleveland Belton of St. John Bosco was the lone CIF state champion from the area as he claimed his second state title for the Braves and 15 other athletes came back to the area with medals.
This season could be just as unique as ten of those medalists return in hunt of an individual state championship.
Rigo Estrada of Northview High suffered a foot injury that kept him away from the wrestling mats during the 2017-18 season. However, he is now injury free and should challenge for a spot at the state podium this season at 220-pounds after having won an individual CIF southern section title during his freshman campaign.
Here’s a closer look at each of the top five teams from the Los Angeles County.
St. John Bosco
After having claimed back-to-back Southern Section Masters Meet Championships, the Braves, coached by Jeff Anderson, Ruben Valencia, and David Lorenzo, will look to three-peat as team champions and become the second L.A. County team to win a team state title since South Hills won it in 1981.
Belton will have to be a vocal leader for the Braves but look for guys like Antonio Lorenzo, Cael Valencia, Sonny Santiago, Louis Rojas, Nathan Haas, and Jaiden Patterson to step up.
Bosco finished as Trinity league, CIF Dual-Meet, CIF Individual, and Masters Meet Champions with a total of ten grapplers advancing to the state tournament. It’s possible that another successful season will be expected for the Braves with a total of seven seniors on the lineup.
It might not be one of the most talented team’s coach Bobby Bellamy has had. Nevertheless, talent doesn’t necessarily mean experience.
The Vikings have been a power not just in the Southern Section, but in the golden state as well. Since 2012, Northview High has finished top three in the section tournament and won it all in 2012 and 2014.
The leadership is what Bellamy feels will define this year’s squad. They’ve got the guys for that.
Senior Gabriel Cortez is one of those guys. He will be looking to make the CIF Championships again as he has been there since his freshman season. He is a CIF state place winner as he was seventh last year at 138-pounds.
Seniors David Barela and Jason Valencia are back, too, and these wrestlers were big last year for the Vikings.
Northview also has Collin Hayes this year after he transferred from Walnut High. Hayes was a state qualifier for the Mustangs last year and was one win shy of claiming a medal. Also, Wyatt Lewis will be competing for the Vikings after being a CIF qualifier for Roosevelt High last season.
The Lancers are set up to have a tremendous season as they were successful in claiming a CIF Dual-Meet Championship last season by defeating Dos Pueblos, 33-21. It was the first dual-meet championship for Bishop Amat since 2007.
This year’s squad is set up rather nicely with the return of all three of their state qualifiers in University of Minnesota recruit Marcos Polanco, Juan Lopez, and Guillermo Escobedo. They also get back Adrian Rios who was a Masters Meet qualifier last season. The
Lancers will rely on that leadership.
A transfer from St. John Bosco who should have a great season is Christian Nunez who was seventh at the CIF state tournament at 120-pounds. With the addition of Nunez, the Lancers should have the potential to upset some teams in the southern section.
Coach Camilo Gonzales has brought a tough mentality that helped him achieved an NCWA title during his college years to Rowland High.
The Raiders finished second at league behind Northview and were fifth at the CIF Inland Division with only five grapplers competing in the tournament.
Gonzales will have some work to do this year. Nevertheless, the Raiders have some very experienced wrestlers back, with CIF state qualifiers Alex Ramirez and Richard Rojo spearheading the team.
He will also look for leadership in masters meet qualifiers Brandon Ghalambor and Josh Avila.
Returning to the team after being absent is 2017 CIF medal winner Armando Murillo who was third at 132-pounds.
Gonzales knows that his underclassmen will be tremendous for the teams’ success. He also feels some new faces can contribute right away, too like his nephew Fernando Barreto who’s currently ranked # 24 in the state as a freshman.
The Titans didn’t lose too much regarding wrestlers from last year.
They had just a handful of seniors. The same can be said for this year, but they will lose a key guy in two-time CIF individual champion Beau Perez.
Perez is one of five seniors in the squad. Even though he has not advanced to the CIF state tournament in his career, Perez is a team leader for the Titans. State place winner Luka Wick may not have to make the trip to Bakersfield alone this year for the CIF Championships in late February.
The Titans will count in the leadership of the Trumbull siblings (Josh, Caleb, and Kurt) as well in freshman’s Santino Sanchez and Koa Ruiz to help them acquire a CIF team title this season.