The California Wrestler
Most Outstanding Wrestlers of the Year
2016 – ’17
The state of California has had a long history of producing some of our nation’s top high caliber wrestlers, both at the national and world levels. This year was no exception! With so many talented wrestlers competing in the Golden State this season, the road to a top 8 placing at the Rabobank was by no means an easy task, but for one to rise above the cream of the crop is another great feat in itself. Three wrestlers that have risen above the cream of the crop in California has accumulated a total of eight CIF State titles, ten state medals, and thirteen high school level All-American honors overall. The TCW staff wants to extend their congratulations to Justin Mejia, Anthony Mantanona, and Seth Nevills for their outstanding achievements and commitment to excellence. Job well done!
In the 44-year history of the CIF state tournament, only fellow Central Section grappler Darrell Vasquez of Bakersfield High school has achieved the very rare feat of winning four state titles (1999 – ‘02). Many past outstanding wrestlers, such as Marty Kistler (Notre Dame-Riverside, S), Jacob Palomino (Independence-San Jose, CC), Nathan Morgan (Bakersfield, CS), Louis Bland (Central Catholic-Modesto, SJ), Jason Welch (Las Lomas-Walnut Creek, NC), Alex Cisneros (Selma, CS), and more recently Anthony Valencia (St. John Bosco-Bellflower, S) advanced to the state finals four consecutive times, but came up short to achieving the BIG PRIZE.
Numerous wrestling fans in California have been fixed to the idea that this feat would more than likely never be achieved again. That was until 2014 when a 14-year old freshman from Clovis won the state title at 106 pounds. From that point forward, Mejia never looked back as he won titles at 113, 120 and more recently at 126.
This year, he completed his stellar career with a 167 – 1 record, was a two-time Flo Nationals All-American, and recently participated at the prestigious Pittsburgh Wrestling Classic (Formerly known as the Dapper Dan Classic). As a result of his great achievements and earning the Golden States big prizes, 4 CIF State titles, the TCW has chosen Justin Mejia as this year’s Most Outstanding Lightweight. Job well done!
Bound for the University of Oklahoma, Anthony Mantanona has all the right tools to put together a successful career at the collegiate level. Very athletic and among the quickest wrestlers in the country, Mantanona is not considered a flashy wrestler. This is not because he lacks the capability; it’s the mere fact that many wrestlers fail to get past the first period against him. In short, Mantanona is a pinning machine that has shattered the state record with 153 pins.
The song by British rock band, Queen, “Another One Bites the Dust,” should have been the song he marched out to for each of his matches. Not only has he pinned a large percentage of his competition in the Golden State, the completion at the national level has experienced the same fate. This past weekend he won the Junior Division at Folkstyle Nationals, accumulating four pins and a technical fall. Due to his outstanding performance, Mantanona is this year’s TCW Most Outstanding Wrestler at the middleweights. Job well done!
When we think of great prep heavyweight wrestlers, athletes like Tommy Rowland, Steve Mocco, Adam Coon, and Nick Nevills comes to mind. After this season, we might need to add Seth’s name to the list of great heavyweight wrestlers. The junior out of Clovis has yet to lose a scholastic match in the state, as well as the nation.
Seth is one of the most sought out recruits in the nation, regardless of weight class. He recently dominated the Flo Nationals as he defeated state champions from various states. If he stays on course and injury free, Nevills is in position to become the first wrestler ever to win four state titles in the Golden state and to remain undefeated throughout his scholastic career. As a result of Seth’s great achievements, the TCW has chosen him this year’s Most Outstanding Heavyweight. Job well done!