TCW California State Rankings by Michael Cho – Weight-by-Weight w/commentary (Nov. 15, 2019)

Maximo Renteria (Buchanan, CS) Returning CIF State Champion

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Welcome to a new season! Preseason state rankings will be released in batches starting November 12 to the end of the week. Wrestlers are placed at their projected weights using line-up feedback from over 100+ coaches. That being said, there will probably be wrestlers listed who may be at different weights, different schools, or not even competing. Don’t fret – there will be true-ups and the rankings will round into form. Once the season starts, I will target weekly updates (by each Wednesday or Thursday). Remember, these rankings are simply a starting point and competitors can fluctuate quite a bit week-to-week. At season’s end, these rankings will be used to seed the CIF State Tournament.

Of course, rankings don’t matter. But having a centralized, data-driven resource that accurately tracks the top CA wrestlers (from a total pool of 25,000+) is a good thing. I take the rankings seriously – it’s not a “job” but I pride in treating it as such. I provide as much data (the “why”) as I can find or get so the rankings are based on more than hearsay and opinion. The goal is to be as transparent as possible and list every competitor (within reason) who has a good shot at qualifying for state. Aggregating the rankings data is labor intensive. At its peak, there will be over 900+ entries on the rankings list. For any given week, consider how long it takes just to find and log the results and relevant H2Hs for even half the entries. And then consider the time required to sort out wrestlers, add new wrestlers (which requires listing all their prior results), calculate team rankings, and do all the sweet, back-end work to put the rankings online. Also keep in mind that I’ve committed to providing my home section’s CCS rankings for boys and girls, which isn’t as extensive but follow the same procedures. What am I trying to say? If you have criticism, please make it constructive.

There is a predictive nature to these rankings – over the past five years, applying the final rankings released prior to the state meet, 91% of eventual state medalists were ranked in the top 12 and nearly 97% were ranked in the top 16. Not bad. But I’m not concerned about who ends up on the podium. My finish line comes earlier – maintaining the integrity of the quarterfinals. Having the quarterfinals line up usually mean that the correct wrestlers were seeded. After that round, anything and everything can happen, and with more parity among the top competitors, the rankings mean considerably less. As a proxy, over the past three state meets, nearly 99% (331 of 336) of the eventual quarterfinalists were seeded in the top 16 with 96% (322 of 336) seeded in the top 12.

One final comment … the margin separating wrestlers outside the top 20+ is slim – so unless there’s compelling evidence to put a wrestler much higher on the list, don’t be discouraged. In my view, it’s more important to properly sort out the top 20 in each weight class rather than nitpick on whether a #35 deserves to be a #26 or debate about the last couple honorable mention (HM) spots. Besides, just being listed means a wrestler is in the top 3% of all CA competitors, which is a major accomplishment in itself. I try to maintain a good distribution of wrestlers across the 10 sections but typically, the rankings will have significant representation from the more dominant ones (Central, Southern, and Sac Joaquin).

Now the nitty-gritty. Preseason rankings criteria will typically favor returning state medalists/qualifiers but as sections vary in strength and depth, a wrestler from a stronger section may be placed above a state qualifier. Also, offseason results will be considered – especially national-level events like Fargo, NHSCA, Super 32, Flo, etc. – but a win over another wrestler at such tournaments does NOT guarantee a higher ranking. Once the season gets underway, rankings criteria will be consistent with those applied at tournament seeding meetings – among them, (1) head-to-head results, prioritizing most recent match-up if H2Hs are even; (2) returning state medalist or qualifier; (3) returning section medalist; (4) common opponents; (5) quality of tournament schedule. Another important component by season’s end (for state seeding) will be overall body of work as case-by-case discretion must be made when H2Hs conflict or are lacking.

I welcome feedback, questions, or corrections at