After a successful event last year, the Rumble for the Rig tournament presented by Bakersfield High is back with a stronger and deeper field of many of the golden state’s best individuals. Eighteen teams, six which are ranked in the top 25 teams by The California Wrestler, will converge in Bakersfield, California, to fight for the team title. Most of the teams and wrestlers in the preview will be in attendance, making a tournament a proving ground for the top high school programs.
Last year Bakersfield High demonstrated great team depth while winning the tournament with 131 points, three individual champions, 11 place winners in the top six, and nine are returning in the hunt for an individual championship. Their state experience and dept make the Drillers one of the narrow favorites.
There are at least five other outstanding teams that could challenge Bakersfield for the title. Sac-Joaquin power Oakdale High was second last year with 117 points. The Mustangs return six place winners from last year’s event, including champions Henry Porter (132) and Cody Golding (182). Add sensational freshmen’s Michael Torres (106), and Caesar Garza (126) to the lineup and the Mustangs could be title contenders.
Watch out for North Coast power De La Salle High with their four returning Rumble for the Rig placers and seven North Coast Section medalists. Their Greco-Roman squad Kyle Parco (132), Ankhaa Enkhmandakh (160), and Dwayne Guerrero (138) are all excellent to complete the event as champions. Add Riley Hilt (120), another potential finalist, Zavion Hernandez (113), Matteo Sanchez (126), Lance Hackett (170), and Ben Roe (285), and this team could score big-time points on a hot weekend.
Three other dominant squads – Esperanza (SS), Northview (SS), and Temecula Valley (SS) – also loom on the horizon. Each has terrific state placer wrestler but will need help from their other qualifiers. Of particular note is Temecula Valley High with state medalist Ryan Cosio (182), state qualifiers Logan Melendez (220) and Alex Barajas (138). Add their CIF masters meet qualifiers and their handful of sensational freshmen in the lineup, and they will be a team to watch for.
With this being the first tournament for many of the teams in attendance, don’t be surprised to see many of the wrestlers either up or down in their projected weight classes. Is still early on the season and many don’t want to cut.
As it is common with the lowest weight in high school wrestling, the 106-pound weight class will feature some tough freshman looking to make a name for themselves. Leading the way will be Northview wrestler Adrian Limon. Limon who is the ninth-rated wrestler in California is a very explosive grappler with excellent skills in all three positions. If one is informal with the Oakdale wrestling team, the surname Torres should sound familiar as he is the younger sibling of two-time state medalist Ricky Torres. Don’t be surprised to see Michael Torres have an exceptional tournament and help Oakdale compete for the team title. Another freshman to look forward in the tournament is Ethan Perryman of Temecula Valley. Those Golden Bear wrestlers are always ready to scrap with any wrestler in the state.
A total of three wrestlers who were successful in placing at this event last year are scheduled to compete in this weight class. Brayden Abell (Oakdale) is a brawler who advanced to the state tournament last season at 106-pounds, the same weight class that he took second at the Rumble for the Rig. Jonah Hernandez (Corcoran) competes in the rugged central section, considered the most competitive section in California, and was a state qualifier. He was the No. 2 seed last year at 113-pounds but was upset in the quarterfinal round. Expect a better performance from Hernandez this weekend. Christian Loera (San Fernando) will be competing in his first Rumble for the Rig tournament and was a Los Angeles section champion for the Tigers. Zavion Hernandez (De La Salle) was fourth at the North Coast section and was sixth after losing to Hernandez in the fifth-place bout. Manuel Gaitan (Temecula Valley) is an exceptional freshman that should sneak into the podium stand at the conclusion of the event.
This is a wide-open weight class that anyone having a great weekend can win. Leading the way should be Riley Hilt (De La Salle). Hilt was a runner-up in this event at 120-pounds and was a match shy from garnering All-State accolades. Right behind Hilt should be 2018 state qualifier Clayton Bashor (Oakdale). Bashor was a runner-up in the tournament last year at 113-pounds for the Mustangs. Ethan Gould (Esperanza) opened some eyes last season, qualifying for the CIF State Championships. He comes into the tournament as the tenth rated wrestler in the state. A trio of wrestlers who have yet to punch their tickets to the state tournament but should make some noise this weekend includes Savion Dixon (Paloma Valley), who finished with a (3-2) record at the Super 32 Invitational, Kalob Lopez (North Bakersfield) who competed at the central section masters, and Mark Takara (Temecula Valley) who was a winner at the California World Challenge varsity division.
The odds-on-favorite to win Rumble for the Rig for the first time is Aaron Nagao (Esperanza). An unorthodox wrestler, Nagao will be aiming to win a CIF state championship this season after placing second last year at 113-pounds. San Fernando’s Kobe Lepe is a wrestler to watch in the tournament after his great performance at the California World Challenge where he finished as the runner-up by defeating various state medalists. He is a three-time state qualifier and will be looking for his first state medal this season. Don’t oversleep on Erik Olea (Exeter). Olea will be aiming to become a four-time state qualifier this season as he was third at this tournament last year at 120. Keep an eye on Angel Rosales (Bakersfield) who was a state qualifier for the Drillers and finished in second place at this event in this weight class. Keep an eye on state qualifier Cole Acosta (Paloma Valley) as it is the first tournament of the season for him.
This weight group is among the most competitive at this tournament. In fact, several talented wrestlers will be hard pressed to make it to the medal round. Among the favorites to bring home a coveted Rumble for the Rig tournament title is Oakdale’s, Henry Porter. A state runner-up last year, he enters the state rankings as the number third wrestler at 132. Porter was triumphant last year in winning this event at 126. Porter should get tested, if they meet in the finals, against Kyle Parco (De La Salle). Parco was successful last season in winning the North Coast section and finishing around shy of garnering All-State accolades. Aside from his accomplishments in-state, Parco won a Fargo Greco-Roman title during the summer. Cade Lucio (Bakersfield) is up two weight classes after having won this event at 120. He is an excellent grappler that qualified to the state tournament and finished in the blood round. Jason Valencia (Northview) is a senior for the Vikings that has won two consecutive CIF Southern Section titles. Despite not having advanced to the state tournament, Valencia is a wrestler to watch as he could surprise some folks this weekend. Other wrestlers that could work their way onto the podium include 2018 state qualifier Evan Azurdia (San Fernando) and Elijah Holiday (Esperanza) who finished in 10th placed at the southern section masters meet tournament.
Two grapplers that stand out from the rest of the field are two-time CIF state place winner Ricky Torres (Oakdale) and 2018 state qualifier Andrew Bloemhof (Bakersfield). Torres is currently ranked fifth in the state and has advanced to the state tournament in three occasions. Last year, he competed at 145 in this event and finished in fourth placed. Bloemhof is an excellent technician who finished shy of garnering All-State accolades last year. He is up a weight class as he was the champion in this event at 132. Two-time North Coast section champion Dwayne Guerrero (De La Salle) will be a candidate to gain his first tournament championship of the season. He is a tough wrestler, especially in the neutral position, as he was the runner-up in this tournament last year at 138. Other wrestlers that should challenge for a title are 2018 state qualifier Alex Barajas (Temecula Valley), and a pair of Yosemite Valley Division place winners in Alex Rodriguez (Redwood) and Jose Flores (Monache).
Northview’s Gabriel Cortez has elevated his wrestling skill set this season, and he is competing with the goal to become a 2019 California state champion! Currently ranked third in the state by The California Wrestler, Cortez was awarded last weekend with the lower weights most outstanding wrestler after pinning his final opponent in less than a minute at the Carter Classic tournament. Adrian Gonzales (Bakersfield) is a wrestler expected to surprise many fans this week. He was a match away from placing at the state tournament and was fourth at this event at 152-pounds. Two outstanding wrestlers that could be fighting for a spot on the podium on Saturday include state qualifiers Brock Rogers (Corcoran) who was sixth in this event at this weight class, and Logan Sumulong (De La Salle) who finished second at the North Coast section tournament. Keep an eye on Seth Borba (Oakdale) who was a match shy of punching his ticket to the state tournament last year.
This weight class is not weak by any means. Nevertheless, there’s going to be many wrestlers attempting to make a name for themselves. A wrestler ready to claim an individual title this weekend and help his team win the tournament is Mario Franco (De La Salle). Last season, Franco placed second at the East Bay Athlete League and sixth at the North Coast section.
This weight class should be fun to watch with two returning medalists from last year and two wrestlers who competed at the central section masters meet tournament. Ankhaa Enkhmandakh (De La Salle) will enter the competition as the eighth-ranked wrestler in the golden state at 160-pounds. A 2018 state qualifier, Enkhmandakh had a great summer that saw him placed third in the Greco-Roman Junior Division. Mike Scarponi (Temecula Valley) is back awaiting to show the competition that he should be a candidate to win the tournament. Scarponi was seventh in this event at 152-pounds and was a participant at the southern section masters meet tournament. He’s currently ranked top 20 in the state. Julius Mayall (North Bakersfield) will be up a weight class after having finished top 12 at the central section masters meet tournament. He’s a wrestler to be careful with as he can score quick points on any opponent. Anthony Ortega (Centennial/Bakersfield) was 10th at the Yosemite Valley tournament and advanced to the central section masters meet tournament.
2018 NHSCA Junior All-American and the second-ranked wrestler in the state according to The California Wrestler, Mark Cardwell (Monache) will be one of the favorites in this weight category. An explosive and unorthodox wrestler, Cardwell placed fourth at the CIF state tournament. A surprise finalist, last year at 170-pounds, Gabe Martinez (Oakdale), will attempt to make it back to the finals and earn a title that slipped from his grip last season. Expect fireworks if these athletes do meet up in the finals. Jarad Priest (Bakersfield), will attempt to navigate his way to the top of the podium this weekend as he was third in this event a year ago at 160. During the month of October, Cardwell and Priest lock horns in the finals of the World Challenge with Cardwell winning a tight 3-1 match. Don’t sleep on De La Salle’s Lance Hackett who was a match shy from advancing to the state tournament.
Three wrestlers ranked in the top 15 of the golden state are scheduled to participate this weekend. Nevertheless, a wrestler that should be head-and-shoulders above the competition is Ryan Cosio (Temecula Valley). Currently rated as the second-ranked wrestler at 182, Cosio was second at the southern section and fourth at the state tournament. Right behind him is Cody Golding (Oakdale). Golding had great success last year as he won the event at 182-pounds with ease. He is a returning state qualifier and recently placed second at the World Challenge. Jordan Annis (Bakersfield) is a senior for the Drillers and one of 11 place winners for them at this event as he was fourth at 160-pounds.
Just weeks from helping the Northview football team reach the semifinal round at CIF, David Barela will be back on the mats ready to claim his first Rumble for the Rig title. An excellent wrestler from the neutral position, Barela was a state qualifier as he placed third at the southern section masters meet tournament. Two wrestlers expected to make an impact at this weight include Eric Mittlestead of Exeter and Israel Webster of Paloma Valley. Mittlestead was ninth at the central section and made his way to the state tournament where he finished with a 2-2 record. Webster is one of four wrestlers from the Wildcats who placed at the CIF southern section individual tournament.
The 220-pound weight division is up for grabs for any wrestler ready to step it up this weekend. The highest returning medalist from last year is Justin Darter (Bakersfield). Darter placed second at this weight class and then as a freshman, when on to placed eighth at the state tournament. Rumors out of the Temecula Valley practice room is that Logan Melendez is ready to make some history of his own and become a state placer for the Bears. He was awarded most outstanding wrestler award at the CIF southern section individual tournament and placed ninth at section tournament to advanced to the state tournament. A year ago, Rigo Estrada’s season was cut short due to an injury to his foot. Now that he is healthy, he hopes to top the podium this weekend and win an individual title for Northview High. As a freshman in 2017, he was a southern section individual champion. A grappler to keep an eye on is Jorge Garcia (Monache). Garcia was 10th at the Yosemite Valley tournament and participated at the central section masters meet tournament.
The odds-on favorite to win this weight class is Josiah Hill (Bakersfield). Hill made great strides last year as he finished his season by being a state qualifier. Hill was third in this event last year and will look to garner an individual title this weekend. Standing in his way for an individual championship should be Ben Roe (De La Salle). Roe was a quarterfinalist at the rugged North Coast section tournament. This will be a good test for Roe to show the wrestling community how serious he is to become a CIF state place winner.