By Pablo Di Maria
Some of the top pre-season tournaments (Super32, Journeyman,
Freakshow, World Challenge) and other events are just around the corner. With this being said, we will see many incoming freshmen take over the mats of this events and show their peers why they are a to be treated with respect as they can go toe-to-toe with anyone in the state.
As for the non-selections, let this serve as your reminder that these lists are based purely on CA USAW, SCWAY, and national performance and are not intended to compete with or mimic with rankings such as Flo Wrestling, The Open Mat, Intermat, or other reliable news sources.
As always, there is no shortage. With a constant churn of middle school graduates, that’s part of the natural cycle for nearly every year. So, without further ado, here are 39 incoming freshmen from the golden state ready to become stars.
1 – Joey Cruz (Clovis North, S) 120lbs
Cruz should enter the season as the No. 1-ranked freshman in the country and probably the nation. He was well known throughout the youth scene. However, after placing second at Flo Nationals and given Richard Figueroa all he could handle in the finals, Cruz has become a household name throughout the country. If he continues to perform at the level he has shown thus far; it will be legitimate to ask whether we’ve just seen the next four-time state champion.
2 – Joe Martin (Buchanan, CS) 152lbs
With the departure of multiple time state qualifier Tristan Zamilpa due to graduation, incoming freshman Joe Martin, could get the call-up from Coach Tirapelle and represent the Bears in trying to help them win a fourth consecutive California Interscholastic Federation team state title. It won’t be an easy task for Martin to have a great freshman due to two reasons. (1) he will be wrestling in the central section and (2) he will be competing in the middleweights with many seniors that may overpower him. Nevertheless, the two-time USAW Folkstyle Nationals All-American has different tools that he will use to obtain the win.
3 – Hayden Zinkin (Clovis North, CS) 106lbs
The surname Zinkin is synonymous with the sport of wrestling in the Central Section. Hayden’s uncle, Nick, was a four-time Doc Buchanan Champion, while his uncle DeWayne and father Harold were CIF, California Interscholastic Federation, state medalists, and NCAA Division I All-Americans for Fresno State. The freshman has always been an efficient scorer and versatile wrestler, but this off-season, he has taken a quantum leap forward concerning offense and mat awareness.
4 – Amit Elor (Horizon C.I.S., CC) 160lbs
It sounds odd to say this about a freshman who might win the Most Outstanding Award of the year honors without having wrestled in high school, but Elor’s value to girl’s wrestling might exceed what her stats would suggest. The multiple time CA USAW Triple Crown Winner has won every tournament, there is to wrestle. Her mat skills can be compared to that of former four-time Fargo National Champion Tatianna Padilla. The freshman is a superb offensive wrestler, and it’s no mistake that the golden state may end up with the best male and female freshmen in the nation.
5 – Lilly Freitas (Pitman, SJ) 137lbs
If it weren’t for Amit Elor, Lilly Freitas could’ve been the clear No. 1 female incoming freshman wrestler in the golden state. She is a multiple time CA USAW Triple Crown Winner and in 2014 Freitas became the first female to win Tulsa Nationals, an all boy wrestling event. Freitas recently won Women’s Nationals in Irving, Texas, and will represent the U.S. at the 2018 Schoolgirl’s Pan Am Games in Mexicali, Baja California, Mexico on September 20-23, 2018.
6 – Brock Bobzien (Poway, SD) 113lbs
We’ve grown accustomed to seeing Poway High dominate the San Diego Section year after year and produce outstanding individuals. Their next future star is Brock Bobzien, a scrambler that can score in any position with ease. He is a CA USAW Triple Crown Winner and was triumphant in July in winning double titles at USAW Kids Freestyle and Greco-Roman Nationals. Wrestling fans should not be surprised to see him win a San Diego Masters title and challenge for an individual state championship in March.
7 – Kimo Leia (Kingsburg, CS) 113lbs
With the addition of multiple time NCAA Division I National Qualifier, Coleman Hammond, to the wrestling staff and workout partner Jonathan Viveros in the wrestling room, Kimo Leia should be ready to make an impact during the 2018-19 season for Kingsburg High. If he keeps on competing like he is doing, we could see Leia make a push for an individual state championship next season.
8 – Christelle Rodriguez (Buchanan, CS) 101/106lbs
Rodriguez could become the face of the Buchanan girl’s wrestling team this upcoming season. A seasoned veteran on the youth circuit, Rodriguez has the skills necessary to eventually conquer a CIF state championship as a freshman and eventually attempt to become a four-time state champion in 2022. Rodriguez is a rugged individual who has a deadly combination of speed, power, and balance, which makes her very tough to defeat.
9 – Damion Elliott (Del Oro, SJ) 106lbs
With the addition of Damion Elliott to the Del Oro wrestling quad, the Eagles should be Sac-Joaquin title contenders with all the talent they bring back for the 2018-19 season. His dominance on the mat comes from his strength and speed and his tremendous balance. He is very hard to take down. Put that together with his desire to succeed and his never-say-die attitude, and you have one tough wrestler ready to contend for a CIF state title. With Evan Ivaldi going up a weight class or two, it makes sense to have Elliott compete at 106 for the Eagles.
10 – Adrian Limon (Northview, S) 106lbs
Since taking over the Northview wrestling team in the early 90’s Coach David Ochoa has made the Vikings a title contender in the Southern Section each passing season. This year’s batch of freshman for the Vikings will be led by Adrian Limon. Limon has a unique combination of speed and explosiveness. Along with his natural ability, Limon also possesses a fantastic work ethic, sense of leadership and moral character that allows him to use his talents to the best of his ability. His talent was showcased at the Mexican National tournament as he dominated the competition with ease.
11 – Dezi Ray Johnsen (Gilroy, CC) 182lbs
Big things are expected at Gilroy with the hiring of UFC Heavyweight Champion and Olympic wrestler Daniel “DC” Cormier at the helm of the Hawks. A freshman that has caught the eye of the champion is Dezi Johnson. As a wrestler, he has all the tools. He has a strong takedown, great setups, and the ability to get out of dangerous situations. With such workout partners as Chase Saldate, Daniel Vizcarra, and Joseph Barnes, Johnsen will be a dangerous individual for any opponent he faces during the season.
12 – Jennifer Soto (Orland, NS) 111lbs
Still undecided on which high school she will attend, Soto is a beast on the mats. Time-after-time, she has proven that she can compete with the best in the country and can hang with them all three periods. If her motor matches her wrestling skill set, nothing is stopping Soto from being one of the top-5 prospects in her weight class.
13 – Braden Pease (Poway, SD) 182lbs
With the departure of state runner-up Nathan Tausch, Braden Pease could be the starter for Poway High at 182-pounds. Pease could be a real crowd favorite because of his exciting, unorthodox style. He utilizes a magnificent blend of power, quickness, and balance and has just outstanding mental toughness. It will take maximum effort to defeat him.
14 – Katie Gomez (Birmingham, LA) 111lbs
Gomez will enter a program that is on the rise and has produced two, two-time state champions in Lakiyah Wagoner and Alex Castillo. Gomez with her hard work ethic, will attempt and match these feats and win a couple of state titles before the ending of her scholastic career. Gomez is a very active wrestler who uses superb conditioning and intensity to her advantage. Also, she is a versatile performer with outstanding explosiveness.
15 – Caesar Garza (Oakdale, SJ) 120lbs
Competing for the always tough Sac-Joaquin program Oakdale is no easy task for any wrestler despite their wrestling abilities. However, Garza is not your typical incoming freshman. He has been battled tested and should challenge for a Sac-Joaquin Section title right off the bat. Garza is a brilliant technician who overwhelms his opponents with his wide repertoire of impressive takedown moves.
16 – Zeth Romney (Chaminade Prep, S) 106lbs
Romney will enter a high school that for the first time had two CIF state place winners in the Osteen siblings Erich and Katja. A former Fargo All-American, Romney possesses great determination and is dominant in the advantage position with a good array of punishing rides and pin holds. His elder sibling (Zane) was a state qualifier, and now Zeth will try and do the same as a freshman.
17 – Paul Sharp (Clovis North, CS) 195lbs
With the addition of two-time PIAA state champion Edmond Ruth to Clovis North, Paul Sharp will have a great workout partner that will help him achieve his dream of becoming a CIF state champion. A strong wrestler in the neutral position, Sharp has a wide repertoire of takedown moves that will help him get the win and advance to the state tournament as a freshman.
18 – Anthony Estrada (Monache, CS) 145lbs
With a strong jiu-jitsu background, Estrada will incorporate those skills on the mats of CIF and attempt to advance to the state tournament as a freshman. What makes Estrada such a dangerous individual is his great leg riding skills. He will attach to his opponents and punish them with his famous crab ride until their shoulder gives up as he obtains the fall.
19 – Fernando Barreto (Rowland, S) 106/113lbs
Fernando comes from a great wrestling family as his uncle (Camilo) was a CIF state medalist and NCWA Champion and his cousin (Alex) was one of the top freshmen in California last season. A multiple time CA USAW place winner, Fernando is dominant on his feet with a wide assortment of set-ups and slick takedowns. He should have a solid career at Rowland High and should have a shot at advancing to the CIF state tournament as a freshman.
20 – Jacob Lopez (Clovis North, CS) 152lbs
Lopez will enter a program that will be contenders to win a coveted CIF state tournament title. A dangerous individual in all positions, Lopez possesses a variety of skills and is an intelligent wrestler who seldom gets out of position. Like his other teammates, Lopez has a great shot in becoming a state qualifier in his first season of high school wrestling.
21 – Oscar Aranda (St. John Bosco, S) 113lbs
Aranda is as good as any 113-pounder in the nation. He is a devasting upper-body wrestler who is very strong and tough. He should be a future star for Bosco and could be a multiple time state placer in the future.
22 – Johnny Lopez (Poway, SD) 126lbs
Lopez always displays outstanding mental and physical toughness in every tournament he participates. He also has excellent all-around skills and knows what it takes to succeed. He will need to give it his all with hopes of cracking the Titan lineup as a freshman.
23 – A.J. Gaitan (Yucaipa, S) 113lbs
Gaitan is a dedicated grappler that can go one-on-one with anyone in the country. He has a subtle style that enables him to score many points in a short amount of time. He should get the green light for the Yucaipa coaching staff and represent the Thunderbirds at Southern Section Masters and hopefully the state tournament as well.
24 – Ryan Luna (St. Francis, CC) 106lbs
Ryan Luna is a great grappler who is good on his feet and has the ability to attack the legs or go upper body. With his talent, one can see Luna performing well at the Central Coast Section and advancing to the state tournament as a freshman.
25 – Leah Gaitan (Yucaipa, S) 101lbs
Leah is an entertaining wrestler who likes to take chances on the mat. She has the uncanny ability to frustrate her opponents and capitalize on their mistakes. She has the right mindset to become a Southern Section champion this upcoming season.
26 – Luke Gayer (Calvary Chapel/SA, S) 120lbs
Gayer is a brilliant performer with great instincts. He’s excellent on his feet and is also a tough defensive wrestler who knows how to maintain position. He should take over the 120-pound weight class as three-time state medalist, Arroyo might move up a weight class or two.
27 – Michael Torres (Oakdale, SJ) 106lbs
Just like his elder brother (Ricky), Michael will attempt and become a state place winner as a freshman. Michael has the talent and dedication to place at the state tournament and help Oakdale High gain a state trophy. Michael offers an impressive mix of explosiveness, aggressiveness, and tenacity. All great characteristics for someone to have an excellent high school career.
28 – Mikey MacGruder (Poway, SD) 106lbs
MacGruder competes with a unique style and will go for the fall from virtually any position on the mat. He is a highly decorated youth wrestler and will challenge right off the bat for the opportunity to represent the Titans in the 106-pound weight class.
29 – Nathan Lam (Poway, SD) 113lbs
Lam is capable of big offensive outburst and consistently turns in outstanding performances. Also, he is good on top with a good array of rides and pinning combinations.
30 – Sean Solis (Fountain Valley, S) 106lbs
Solis is currently severely challenged by teammate Kade Ayers for a varsity spot at the Fountain Valley wrestling team. Solis is excellent on his feet and has good upset potential.
31 – Kade Ayers (Fountain Valley, S) 106lbs
He is a sensationally quick and powerful wrestler that has great mat awareness. Still undecided if Ayers or Solis will represent the Barons at 106-pounds.
*The following wrestlers have been added to the article after it was completed and are listed in no particular order.
Isaiah Kainoa Medina (Vacaville, SJ) 106lbs
Isaiah will be competing next season for Sac-Joaquin power Vacaville High. A versatile wrestler in all three positions, Medina is a solid wrestler that will help the Bulldogs in capturing another section title and qualified a wrestler to the CIF state tournament at 106-pounds as they failed to do that last season.
Ashton Wagner (Paradise, NS) 220lbs
Last season, Tony Rogers of Chester won his fourth Northern Section title at 220-pounds. This upcoming season, Ashton Wagner of Paradise could be winning his first section title and his fourth in 2022. Described as a man-child, Ashton is a great strong athlete that overpowers most of the competition. His style of wrestling can be defined similarly to that of former NCAA Champion out of Oklahoma State, Steve Mocco.
Kyler Lake (Buchanan, C) 120lbs
Former Folkstyle Nationals All-American Kyler Lake should be a great addition to the already tough Buchanan wrestling squad. A takedown machine, Lake has that West Coast style of wrestling that dominates the competition with his slick technique. Whether he decides to go 113 or 120 to help the Bears better, Lake has an outstanding opportunity to qualify to the rugged CIF state tournament.
Matthew Rodriguez (Righetti, S)
Martinez is an intelligent grappler with a myriad of exciting takedown maneuvers. Every time he competes, he showcases a variety of elite-level techniques and incorporates a superb blend of power, quickness, and tenacity. He will follow the steps of his elder brother (Josh) and place at the rugged CIF state tournament as a freshman.
Dominic Mendez (Righetti, S) 106lbs
Mendez comes from a wrestling family as his elder cousin (Justin) was a CIF champion while cousin (Zander) was a multiple time state place winner and currently competes for Cal Baptist. Mendez is a methodical takedown specialist capable of overwhelming his opponents with his exciting aggressive style. He will attempt and accomplish the same feats as his cousins and become a CIF state medalist as a freshman.
Cade Creighton (Palo Alto, CC) 152lbs
Cade is a multiple time CA USAW Triple Crown winner with a great upside in the sport of wrestling. Extremely competitive and strong-willed, Creighton is an electrifying performer capable of putting an opponent on their back. The Palo Alto coaching staff is excited as they know Creighton has the capability to become a state qualifier as a freshman and eventually win a state title of his own in the future.
Ethan Birch (Vacaville, SJ) 130lbs
A great wrestler in the international style of wrestling, Birch is a gifted athlete that excels in Freestyle and Greco-Roman. He will incorporate those styles into folkstyle wrestling and help Vacaville High win another section team title. Birch is untraditional, thrill a minute wrestler with the capability to pin anyone he faces. He will be expected to battle the best from the Sac-Joaquin Section and attempt to advance to the state tournament as a freshman.
Jack Gioffre (Buchanan, C) 106lbs
Still undecided which Gioffre sibling will take over the varsity spot at 106-pounds with state place winner Ethan Leake moving up a weight class or two. Jack is a multiple time SCWAY state champion and CA USAW state medalist, that moves well on his feet and can surprised opponents with his quickness. In case he gets the call from Coach Tirapelle to represent the Bears, Jack has a very good chance of advancing to the state tournament.
Michael Gioffre (Buchanan, C) 106lbs
Just like his brother (Jack), Michael was an All-American at Folkstyle Nationals earlier this year. A multiple time SCWAY state champion, Michael moves well on his feet and can take down any opponent he faces with ease. Michael is also a very aggressive wrestler who likes to push the action.
Brayden Schumann (Orland, NS) 126lbs
With the departure of state medalist, Enrique Landeros graduating, Brayden Schumann will be taking over the role of the top wrestler at Orland High. A rugged performer, Brayden is a tremendously talented freshman with great athleticism. Brayden does not give up any easy points and has the ability to frustrate opponents and capitalize on their mistakes.