One of the oldest and most successful tournaments in the Golden State is scheduled to take place this weekend at Fountain Valley High. Two-time returning team champions Selma High is the heavy favorite to win their third team title after having a successful tournament at the Doc Buchanan Invitational where they wound up in third place. Right behind them should be Southern Section power Northview High, San Diego power Rancho Bernardo High, and Washington 3A state champions Bonney Lake High.
Wrestlers returning in the hunt for another Five Counties title are Nate Yanez (113) who last seasoned competed for Roosevelt High but now is at Northview. Eddie Flores of Northview High (120) is up two weight classes after conquering the field at 106-pounds. Tony Mendoza of Selma High (152) will be in search of his third title after having won it in 2016 at 132, and in 2017 at 138-pounds. Christian Rodriguez of Selma High (170) is back at this weight class, and he looks to be head-and-shoulders above the competition. And the last returning champion is Dane Martinez of Brawley high (220).
The following is a list of potential No. 1 seeds at their respective weight classes and the wrestlers that they could eventually meet up in the finals.
Richard Figueroa (Selma HS, CS) 106-Pounds
Phenom Freshman Richard Figueroa has yet to lose to a California grappler this year. So far, this season, he has won the Bakersfield Ruble Rig, Zinkin Classic, Doc Buchanan, and was fourth at the Walsh Jesuit Ironman tournament. He has put himself in the position of being pursued by the rest of the 106 field instead of being the hunter. Figueroa has the potential to become a CIF state champion in March. He could have a potential final match this weekend with 2017 CIF state champion Jonathan Prata of Downey.
Tristan Lujan (Selma HS, CS) 113-Pounds
Lujan is a returning Five Counties finalist as he was second behind Eddie Flores of Northview High last year. Up a weight class, Lujan has been impressive this year as he was a match away from placing at the prestigious Walsh Jesuit Ironman tournament and finished second at the Doc Buchanan Invitational. Lujan’s style is unique as he is an orthodox grappler than can get himself out of dangerous situations. Three grapplers that could be competing against Lujan in the finals, include Washington state champion and Fargo All-American Brenden Chaowanapibool (Bonney Lake), Dilan Atjun (Downey) who was fifth at Doc Buchanan last week, and Nate Yanez (Northview) who is a defending Five Counties champion and was top 12 at the CIF state tournament.
Brandon Kaylor (Bonney Lake HS, Washington) 120-pounds
Oregon State recruit Brandon Kaylor should be the heavy favorite this weekend to claim a Five Counties title. He was triumphant this summer in winning double titles at Fargo Nationals in North Dakota. He also represented the U.S. at the Pan American Games in Lima, Peru, and came back as a Junior Freestyle Champion. Aside from being a tremendous wrestler in international competition, Kaylor is a three-time Washington 3A state champion. A potential matchup with Eddie Flores (Northview) could take place on Saturday evening. Flores will continue his education this fall at Cal State Bakersfield.
Jaden Le (Rancho Bernardo HS, SD) 126-Pounds
Jaden Le is a rugged sophomore that unfortunately was injured during the Masters Meet tournament last year and couldn’t advance to the CIF state tournament. This year, he has medaled in four different tournaments, and he is ranked No. 8 in the state. If healthy, we could see him on the medal podium of the state tournament in March. Wrestlers that could find their way to the finals and meet up with Jaden include Devin Holman (El Capitan), Dylan Zotea (Fountain Valley), 2017 Washington third-place finisher in 2A Jacob Flores of Orting High, or two-time Nevada state champion Antonio Saldate of Las Vegas.
Alex Cruz (Orting HS, Washington) 132-Pounds
The University of Virginia recruit Alex Cruz is ranked No. 10 in the country according to FloWrestling. He has a great resume that includes being a multiple time Fargo All-American and has also placed at such events as the Super 32 tournament. He is considered by many of his peers as the top wrestler from the state of Washington. This season, he is on schedule to become the third Orting wrestler in school history to win four state titles. Gabe Cortez (Northview) has made significant strides this season as he has either won or being a finalist at all tournaments he has competed this season. His lone loss of the season has been to Jaden Abas of Rancho Bernardo at the finals of El Cajon tournament. This weekend, Cortez will be testing the waters at 132-pounds to see which weight best fits his style. Let’s not forget about Marcus Polanco (Bishop Amat) who placed fourth at Doc Buchanan.
Jaden Abas (Rancho Bernardo HS, SD) 138-Pounds
Mr. California, Jaden Abas, will be a strong contender to win his first Five Counties championship after finishing second last year to Robert Garcia IV of Selma, a wrestler who is currently redshirting at Fresno State. Abas has won titles at the Peoria Liberty Classic in Arizona, El Cajon Invitational, Sierra Nevada Classic, and the Doc Buchanan Invitational. His lone blemished in the season was to a wrestler from Ohio at the Walsh Jesuit Ironman tournament. A trio of outstanding wrestlers eager to face Abas in the finals includes 2018 Doc Buchanan medalist Luis Ramos (Selma), and 2017 CIF state medalists Dalton Lakmann of Foothill (Palo Cedro) and Joe Romero (Lemoore). Let’s not forget about two-time Oregon state finalist and 2016 state champion Joey Coste of Westview.
Tony Mendoza (Selma HS, CS) 145-Pounds
Mendoza will be in search of his third Five Counties title after having won it in 2016 and 2017. Last weekend at the Doc Buchanan Invitational, he made a marked on the tournament as he advanced to the finals of the event by knocking out No. 1 seed and two-time Colorado state champion Jacob Greenwood of Poudre High. Mendoza is a two-time state medalist, and if he wins a title this weekend, he could be helping Selma High retained their championship title. Tyler Badgett (Rancho Bernardo) is only a sophomore that placed eighth at Doc Buchanan last week. Badgett, as well as Ronnie Reyes (Hanford) and John McCoy (Marina), could emerge as potential candidates to face Mendoza in the finals.
Trey Munoz (Trabuco Hills HS, SS) 152-Pounds
Trey Munoz has made great strides this season. During the summer, he traveled to Fargo North Dakota, where he garnered All-American honors in the Freestyle portion of the national tournament. Last week, he shocked several state champions from other states to advance to the finals of the Doc Buchanan Invitational where he finished second. It is only natural for Munoz to be this good as his father (Mark) was a two-time CIF state champion, and an NCAA Division I National Champion for Oklahoma State. A wrestler that could emerge as a finalist against Munoz is double Fargo All-American Jace Luchau (Selma). Luchau made great strides this season over the summer and has the potential to be a state place winner in March.
Augustin Garcia (Madera South HS, CS) 160-Pounds
Garcia was a runner-up in this weight class last year to current Oregon State grappler Aaron Olmos. This weekend, he could emerge as a champion of this weight class as he is the highest ranked wrestler per The California Wrestler. This season, he has won championship titles at McNair, Chukchansi, Lemoore Dennis Deliddo, and was fourth at Sierra Nevada Classic. Wrestlers that could challenge Garcia for a Five Counties title include 2017 state qualifier Mike Goldfeder of the Buckley School, two-time state qualifier Joey Sandoval of Porterville, and Wetzel Hill (Trabuco Hills) who had a good showing at Doc Buchanan.
Christian Rodriguez (Selma HS, CS) 170-Pounds
Fresno State signee Christian Rodriguez (Selma) will attempt once again this weekend to win another coveted Five Counties title. This season, he has won titles at the Bakersfield Rumble Rig, Zinkin Classic, and was a medalist a Walsh Jesuit Ironman, and the Doc Buchanan Invitational. With his outstanding credentials, Rodriguez should be the clear favorite to walk away from Fountain Valley with a title belt. Wrestlers aiming to get a shot at Rodriguez include 2017 Fountain Valley runner-up and three-time state qualifier Dylan Miracle (Madera South), 2018 Doc Buchanan medalist Uriel Beristain (Mater Dei), and 2017 Northern Section Champion Russell Rucklos of Foothill (Palo Cedro).
Gerardo Hernandez (Capistrano Valley HS, SS) 182-Pounds
Hernandez is ranked top five in the state rankings via The California Wrestler. Last year, he finished second at Five Counties and was a match away from placing at the CIF state tournament. This season, he was the champion at the Mann Classic and is coming off from placing fourth at the Doc Buchanan Invitational. Wrestlers scheduled to challenge Hernandez includes Doc Buchanan place winner Michael Viramontes (Hesperia), three-time state qualifier Robert Maiden (Stockdale), Tyler Avila (Porterville) who was top 12 at Doc Buchanan, and Collin Murphy (Rancho Bernardo).
Ryan Reyes (Clovis West HS, CS) 195-Pounds
It will be Reyes first time competing at Five Counties. He is a two-time state medalist and comes from a wrestling family as his brother (Niko) was a two-time state champion and a former starter for the University of Illinois. Reyes is the No. 2 ranked wrestler in California, with both of his losses coming to Colbey Harlan of Oakdale. This season, he won the Clovis West Shootout and was second at Reno Tournament of Champions and the Doc Buchanan Invitational. Hoping to challenge Reyes for a championship title includes Doc Buchanan medal winner Thomas Schmitt (Mater Dei Catholic), 2017 state qualifier Isaac Jimenez (Selma), and Drew Cornelius (Orange Lutheran) who owns a win over Schmitt this season.
Joey Daniel (Santa Ana HS, SS) 220-Pounds
Last week, Joey Daniel suffered his first loss in the season in a controversial call to Trevor Irvin of Buchanan in the finals of the Doc Buchanan tournament. Regardless of the outcome of that match with Irvin, Daniels is still the No. 2 ranked wrestler in the state. Daniel’s last time competing at Five Counties took place in 2016 when he placed seventh at 195-pounds. Five wrestlers that could emerge as finalists against Daniel’s includes 2017 Five Counties champion Dane Martinez (Brawley), Doc Buchanan place winners Eric Osteen (Chaminade) and Mauricio Jimenez (Las Vegas), and Jacob Gonzalves (Lemoore) and Gabriel Carranza (Victor Valley) who wound up top 12 at Doc Buchanan.
Randy Gonzales (Lakewood HS, SS) 285-Pounds
Ranked No. 6 in the latest state rankings, Randy Gonzales is a superb heavyweight wrestler that has the necessary skills to walk away this weekend with a coveted Five Counties title. So far, this season, he has placed fifth at the always tough Reno Tournament of Champions, and third at Cerritos Tournament of Champions. He placed sixth last year at Five Counties, and both in-state losses have been to wrestlers ranked in the top five per The California Wrestler. Wrestlers that could challenge Gonzales include Doc Buchanan place winner Xavier Moran (Selma), Daniel Garcia (Hesperia) who was top 12 at Doc Buchanan, and Tony DaCosta (Torrance) who is a 2017 state qualifier.