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AWN Preview: CIF State Championships

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By Pablo DiMaria
High School Correspondent

Dreams of glory will be achieved or upset this weekend as the 41st CIF State championships come to Rabobank Arena in Bakersfield, Calif. This tournament is considered the toughest state tournament to qualify for in the nation. Just making it to Bakersfield is an accomplishment in itself. The mats in the arena will be filled by Fargo, NSHCA and FILA All-Americans. Returning state champion Clovis is considered the leading candidate to win the tournament on Saturday afternoon. Clovis qualified 11 wrestlers, the mean green machine from Poway qualified 12, San Joaquin Section powerhouse Vacaville is bringing 10 wrestlers to the tournament. New kid on the block St. John Bosco, will need some additional rooms in Bakersfield since they qualified six wrestlers to state. Other schools with large contingents of wrestlers are Santiago Corona with seven, Northview with seven, Buchanan with 12 wrestlers, and Chico with seven. Olympic Champion and hometown hero Jake Varner will be in attendance to watch the state tournament this weekend.

Returning State Champions
113-Zahid Valencia, Soph, St. John Bosco (SS)
120-Isaiah Locsin, Jr, Live Oak (CC)
138-Nikko Villareal, Jr, Gilroy (CC)
145-Anthony Valencia, Soph, St. John Bosco (SS)
160-Isaiah Martinez, Sr, Lemoore (C) Two-time State Champion
285-Nick Nevills, Jr, Clovis (C) 2011 State Champion

Weight by Weight Breakdown
106 Pounds
Top Bracket
Adrian Camposano from Central has been impressive this season. He won the tough Central Masters and looks like a clear favorite to be a finalist. He should have a tough battle in the second round with Christian Root from Temecula Valley. Root was a Reno Tournament of Champions and Battle for the Belt placewinner. The first quarterfinals match should be a barnburner with Camposano and San Diego Masters Champion, Vincent Elizalde from Brawley. Elizalde has qualified to the state tournament twice and has been a match away from placing both times. He won a Five Counties tournament this season for the second consecutive time and comes into state as an undefeated wrestler. A tough first round match should be between two previous state qualifiers in 2012 in Matt Gamble from Monache and Nikko Colunga from Oakdale. Gamble was this season’s Doc Buchanan champion but managed to place only fourth in the Central Section Masters Meet. He should advance to the second round where he should meet Northern Section champion Mason Sauseda from Chico. The second quarterfinals match should be between Gamble and Julian Gaytan from Clovis. Gaytan was a state medalist last season in this weight class. He wrestled the majority of the season at 113 pounds until dropping to 106 pounds for state. Gamble has two wins over Gaytan in the last two weeks, 7-2 and 5-0.
Bottom Bracket
Two-time state qualifier Tirso Lara from Poway should have a tough match in his out bracket match. He will wrestle Javier Jimenez from Porterville, a 2012 Fargo All-American. They met early in December with Lara coming out victorious 11-5. Lara should be able to advance and meet freshman sensation Durbin Lloren from Buchanan in the quarterfinals. 2011 state medalist Alfredo Espinoza from Otay Ranch should advance to the quarterfinals despite finishing in third place in the San Diego Masters. He should have a test from the Southern Section runner-up, Martin Garcia from Laguna Hills, in the second round of state. An exciting match waiting to happen will be in the second round between Joey Cisneros from Redwood, third at the Central Section and Fargo Greco Roman All-American, versus Gionn Peralta from Vacaville. Peralta is the No. 1-ranked wrestler and a two-time California state medalist.

113 Pounds
Top Bracket
The nation’s top grappler at 113 pounds, Zahid Valencia from St. John Bosco, should win his second consecutive state title Saturday afternoon. He will be waiting for Gabe Balderas from Ceres in the quarterfinals. Balderas was the San Joaquin Section runner-up this season and he’s a two-time state qualifier. Before this match happens, Balderas should meet the North Coast Section champion, Joey Vigil from Heritage. Balderas defeated Vigil in the finals of the Tim Brown Invitational 4-2. Matt Smull from Shasta, a 2012 state medalist, should win his first match at state and meet Anthony Hernandez from Vacaville for the right to advance to the quarterfinals. Smull owns an 8-5 win over Hernandez this season when they met in a consolation round at the Battle for the Belt tournament. Sean Williams from Lemoore has been a man on a mission all season long. He should battle his way into the quarterfinals and meet Smull for the right to face Valencia in the semifinals.*
*In my humble opinion, Williams should have been in the bottom bracket with a chance to meet Valencia in the finals instead of the semifinals.
Bottom Bracket
Sophomore Jesse Vasquez from Gilroy looks like a favorite to advance to the first quarterfinals in the bottom bracket. Look for Vasquez to meet Isaiah Hokit from Wasco in the quarterfinal. Hokit was a state medal winner last season at 106 pounds. Roy Galvan from La Quinta, a 2012 state qualifier, wrestled the entire regular season at 120 pounds until dropping to 113 pounds just before league finals. Expect him to make a run to the quarterfinals with a second round match against the San Diego Section champion Dustin Miller from Valley Center. Freshman Israel Saavedra from Modesto made history by becoming the first freshman in school history to advance to state. He should make the quarterfinals, but before he does, he will have a tough challenge from two-time state qualifier Sergio Mendez from San Fernando in the first round and Khristian Olivas from Clovis in the second round.

120 Pounds
Top Bracket
North Coast Section champion Ricky Costner from Freedom looks like a clear favorite to advance to the quarterfinals as of now. If two-time state qualifier Gio Castillo from Corona Centennial is healthy, he should be the one advancing to the quarterfinals. A second round match that looks likely will be between freshman Julian Flores from San Marino and Micah Perez from Central Union. Perez is a two-time third place finisher in the state and he’s also a Fargo All-American. Perez beat Flores in the finals of the West Coast Classic 6-1 in December. Ronnie Stevens from Oakdale should have a tough battle with freshman Jeremiah Thomas from Santiago Corona in the second round to see who will advance to the quarterfinals. Mason Pengilly from Porterville looks like the clear favorite to advance to the finals in the top bracket.
Bottom Bracket
Kasey Klaus from Vacaville looks to add points for the Bulldogs and advance to the quarterfinals to meet either Arnulfo Olea from Exeter or defending state champion Isaiah Locsin from Live Oak. The other quarterfinals should be between Jonas Gatan from Clovis and Jordan Gurrola from North Torrance high.
126 pounds

Top Bracket
Southern Section champion Justin Thomas from Santiago Corona has a really good chance to make the quarterfinals in this, his freshman campaign. Before he does this he will have to face the San Diego Section runner-up Gabe Faller from Poway. An exciting match that should be happening in the second round will be between Michael Knoblauch from Clovis West and Victor Olmos from Gilroy. Both wrestlers have qualified to the state tournament twice in their high school careers. Sophomore Wyatt Wykoff from Paradise should have a tough test in the second round with Josh Sibaya from Monache. The winner should advance to the quarterfinals and have a meeting with the San Joaquin Section champion Victor Trujillo from Bella Vista.
Bottom Bracket
The North Coast Section champion Artemio Flores from James Logan should cruise his way to the quarterfinals and wait for the Southern Section runner-up Joseph Domiguez from St. John Bosco. Expect either Josh Hokit from Wasco or Cameron Bailey from Vacaville to give Dominguez a challenge in the second round. Three wrestlers who are equal in wrestling skills and are vying to make the quarterfinals are the San Diego Section champion Sam Acosta from Del Norte, two-time state qualifier Zeke Andrade from Foothill, and Peter Cunnigham from Calvary Chapel. Whoever makes the quarterfinals will likely face the No. 1-ranked wrestler in the state in Vincent Gomez from Frontier. Gomez was a state medalist as a freshman and missed making the podium last season.

132 Pounds
Top Bracket
The nation’s top freshman and wrestler Aaron Pico from St. John Bosco is the clear favorite to win the state title this weekend. Pico is like no other freshman I have seen in all my years involved in wrestling, with skills well beyond those of his peers. Junior Abel Contreras from Porterville will most likely have the hard task of facing Pico in the quarterfinals. Austin Solari from Liberty, a 2012 state qualifier, should make the quarterfinals. Before he does, he will most likely have to face the San Joaquin Section third place finisher Tyler Lawrence from Escalon in the second round. Sophomores Kyler Hansen from Buchanan and Ralph Tovar from Poway should face each other for the right to advance to the quarterfinals. Tovar owns a victory over Hansen in the quarterfinals of the Doc Buchanan Tournament.
Bottom Bracket
Mark Taijeron, the San Joaquin Section champion from Merced, looks to make a run for a spot in the quarterfinals, though his path won’t get any easier once he gets there. Also in the run to make the quarterfinals are two state placers and a qualifier from last season. An intriguing match in the out bracket is between Paul Fox from Gilroy, a state runner-up last season, and Adrian Panduro from Corcoran, a 2012 state medalist. The winner of this match will likely face Alonzo Osuna from Brawley Union in the second round. 2011 state medalist Ali Naser from El Camino Real has a good chance to make the quarterfinals. Before he does he will have a tough match with 2012 state qualifier Isaac Bertalotto from Turlock in the first round. Javier Gasca from Kingsburg and future Michigan State Spartan should eventually reach the quarterfinals and meet Naser. Gasca owns a victory over Naser when he pinned him in the semifinals of the Doc Buchanan Tournament.

138 Pounds
Top Bracket
Southern Section Masters Champion Daniel Valles from Northview should punch his ticket to the quarterfinals in this weight class. Valles will most likely be waiting for Chris Garcia from Clovis West. Garcia was a 2012 state medalist, but before this match can take place, Garcia will have a tough fight in his out bracket match against Michael Sill from Walnut. An interesting match should take place in the first round between Sergio Enloe from Poway high and Uzo Owuana from Bloomington. Both have defeated each other in the first part of the season. Something that most folks don’t know about Enloe is that in his freshman and sophomore year he was a Clovis wrestler before transferring to Poway this season due to his dad’s work in the US Military. Another first round match that all should watch will be Elijah Davis from Riordan and Nolan Kistler from Martin Luther King. Davis was a state qualifier last season and was the 2011 Fargo Greco Roman National Champion. Nolan was also a state qualifier last season and comes from a wrestling dynasty. The winner of the match should have the hard task of facing the San Joaquin Section champ Johnny Callas from Nevada Union.
Bottom Bracket
Martin Sandoval from Porterville Should met Joey Abbate from Central Catholic in the second round. Abbate was wrestling at 145 and 152 pounds all season long until the league tournament. Unheard wrestler Mario Lopez from Rowland should give defending state champion Nikko Villareal from Gilroy a tough match in the second round. Mike Longo from Santiago Corona should meet Terrill Siedener from Beaumont in the quarterfinals, their third meeting in two weeks. Before Siedener advances to the quarterfinals he should get tested by a tough wrestler from the North Coast Section in Jacob Macalolooy from James Logan.

145 Pounds
Top Bracket
Two heavily favored sophomores who should meet each other in the quarterfinals are Anthony Valencia from St. John Bosco and Lorenzo De La Riva from Folsom. Valencia was a state champion last season and has demonstrated that going up a weight class hasn’t hurt his chances of repeating this year. De La Riva was second in the San Joaquin Section Masters and has been wrestling quite well. Before he makes the quarterfinals he should be tested really well by Conner Francis from Buchanan. They are 1-1 in the season and this will be the tie breaker match, with the winner advancing to the quarterfinals. Either wrestler from the match between Andrew Patrick of Hughson and Carter Armendarez of Great Oaks has a legitimate chance of making the quarterfinals. Whoever wins will most likely face the Northern Section champion Matt Boles of Durham in the second round. Jason Ladd from Clovis, a 2012 state medalist, should get tested by sophomore Ricky Padilla from Northview in the second round.
Bottom Bracket
Two-time state qualifier Zac Contreras from Riordan has been on a tear since not placing at Doc Buchanan. He should do well in his first and second round and eventually advance to the quarterfinals. A really exciting match should happen in the second round between the Central Section runner-up Tyler Zimmer from Clovis West and Christian Pagdilao from Santiago Corona. Last week Pagdilao suffered his second loss in the season in the finals of the Southern Section Masters. One of the heavy favorites to make the finals, Victor Lopez from Poway, should advance to the quarterfinals and help the Green machine obtain some valuable points to win state. Before we can claim Lopez a quarterfinalist he will be challenged by 2012 state qualifier Kevan Robles from Paso Robles. Two wrestlers who will most likely face Lopez if they win their second round match are Andrew Fierro from Bakersfield and Hayden Fry from Vacaville. Both are quality wrestlers who will be trying to obtain points to help their team get hardware at the end of Saturday night.

152 Pounds
Top Bracket
Luke Wilson from Righetti should have a tough match with Teddy Thomson from Buchanan in the second round before he advances to the quarterfinals. Ivan Govea from Firebaugh, the Central Section third place finisher, should have a great match with the San Joaquin Section runner-up Zack Velasquez from Argonaut for the right to advance to the quarterfinals. A good first round match will be between the North Coast Champion Tyler Reardon from Livermore and Ryan Escalera from Selma. Both are tough wrestlers and ready to be on the podium come Saturday night. Escalera has a win over Reardon 5-3 overtime in the semifinals of the Kern County Invitational. Coleman Hammond from Bakersfield is a clear favorite to get to the quarterfinals and eventually the semifinals and finals.
Bottom Bracket
Shayne Tucker from Bella Vista was a state finalist last season. This season he has medaled in some of the toughest tournaments in the nation. He should have a great second round match with Aaron Negrete from Calvary Chapel. Negrete has been wrestling impressively all season long and can definitely be a bracket buster in this weight class. Sophomore Dominic Kinkaid from Clovis, who was a state alternative last season, will be making his first trip to state. Expect him to make the best out of it and advance to the quarterfinals to help Clovis win the California state title. John Leal from Chester should advance to the quarterfinals, but first will have to get past his first round opponent in 2012, state qualifier Miguel Ruiz from Madera. Southern Section runner-up Blayne Briceno from Crespi should met Kyle Perrault from Clovis East in an epic battle between two highly regarded California wrestlers.

160 Pounds
Top Bracket
Isaiah Martinez from Lemoore is a two-time state champion who is the heavy favorite to win his third state title this weekend. He was won everything from Fargo to Super 32 over his high school career. Don’t be surprised to see him off the mats by the second period in all his matches at state. The Southern Section runner-up Collin Navickas from Marina should met the Central Coast Section champion Luis Quintero from King City in the second round for the right to advance to the quarterfinals against Martinez. Ray Lomas from Central Catholic looks like the clear favorite to make the other quarterfinals in the top bracket. Before he does that, he will have a challenger in sophomore Michael Wright from Dinuba in the first round and maybe Josh Baron from Valencia in the second round. Arashdeep Gil from Chaminade Prep Academy, who was sixth after forfeiting his last three matches, should win his out bracket match and eventually advance to the quarterfinals.
Bottom Bracket
Southern Section champion Bradley Christensen from Chaparral should have a clear path to the quarterfinals and wait to see who will be his opponent, most likely Clovis’s Brody Brandt or Cody Silva from Valley Center. Central Section runner-up Hunter Hodges from Bakersfield should advance to the other quarterfinals. San Joaquin Section champion Nicholas Fiegner from Folsom should have no major problems making the quarterfinals to meet up with Hodges.

170 Pounds
Top Bracket
Central Section Masters champion Bryce Martin from Bakersfield should make the quarterfinals with little or no challenge. An interesting fact about Martin is that last season he qualified to state at 126 pounds. This season he’s up six weight classes and he’s a major contender to be a state medalist this weekend. Southern Section runner-up Harlen Kistler from Martin Luther King was a state qualifier last season at 160 pounds. If his surname sounds familiar, it’s because he is the nephew of former Iowa All-Americans Marty and Lindley Kistler. There’s a rumor circulating that Keaton Subject won’t be able to wrestle this weekend due to an injury in the Section finals. This opens the path for Kistler to advance to the quarterfinals to meet Martin. A good second round match will be between 2012 California state medalist Steve Cervantes from Poway and two-time state qualifier Jonathan Solano from Los Osos. Corey Griego from Sultana is the No. 1-ranked wrestler in state. He got injured in the semifinals of the Southern Section. If he’s 100% healthy he should make the quarterfinals and wait for the winner of the Cervantes and Solano match.
*Six of the top eight ranked wrestlers at this weight class are in the top bracket.
Bottom Bracket
Three-time state qualifier and 2012 state medalist Peter Santos from Oakdale leads the weight in the bottom bracket. He should advance to the quarterfinals, but before he does that, he will be challenged by Max Kumashiro from Los Alamitos in the second round. Northern Section champion Tucker Guilliford from Red Bluff should have a second round match with the Central Section third place finisher Alec Gamboa from Madera. A good match that should happen in the second round will be between two-time state qualifier Jovan Villalobos from Alisal and the Central Section runner-up Austin Flores from Clovis North. They haven’t met this season but both are considered top contenders to medal in Bakersfield this weekend. Bryan Salinas from Northview is a top contender to go all the way to the semifinals in this weight class. Before he does that he will meet San Diego Section runner-up Conner Anderson from La Costa Canyon in the second round.

182 Pounds
Top Bracket
Returning California state medalist and Fargo All-American Emmanuel Barber from Canyon Springs looks to have a descent draw for advancing to the quarterfinals. Central Section third place finisher Jackson Grout from Buchanan should have a tough battle in the second round against Johnny Beltran from Servite. Beltran made the finals of eight tournaments, including league and CIF this season. His only non-finalist finish in a tournament was in the Southern Section Masters where he finished in eighth place. State runner-up last season and future Wyoming University Cowboy Kyle Pope from Bakersfield should advance to the quarterfinals. First he will have to face the Northern Section Masters champion Sam Miller from Chico. San Joaquin Section champion Nick Troquato from Ponderosa will probably face the Southern Section fourth place finisher Chris Whilden from West Torrance in the second round, with the winner advancing to the quarterfinals. They haven’t met this season.
Bottom Bracket
North Coast Section winner Devon Aiello from De La Salle should met the Central Coast Section runner-up Jacob Golden from Monterey in the second round to try to advance to the quarterfinals. A good first round match should be between Sohrab Movahedi from Granada Hills Charter and Matt Willliams from Sultana. Williams made the quarterfinals last season at 160 pounds but failed to medal at state. Movahedi is a strong candidate to become his section’s first ever state champion this season. They met in the consolation semifinals of the Doc Buchanan Tournament this season, with Movahedi winning 7-3. San Diego Section champion Ian Baker from La Costa Canyon looks to be the best wrestler to advance to the other quarterfinals and meet Adrian Salas from Clovis. But Salas will first face a strong challenge from Vacaville senior Chris Lai. Salas met Lai in a dual meet and beat him 8-3.

195 Pounds
Top Bracket
The No. 2-ranked wrestler in the state, Mason Kumashiro from Los Alamitos, looks to have a clear path to the semifinals. This season he has been on a tear, winning all the tournaments he has entered with the exception of a minor loss in the Orange County Coaches Association All-Star Dual-Meet. Two-time state qualifier Scott Votino from Elk Grove should have a tough match with the San Diego Section champion Adam Waller from Escondido in the first round. Votino is an exceptional wrestler who wrestles like a lightweight in all his matches. He was a state qualifier last season at 170 pounds. An out bracket match that should be really exciting will be between 2012 California state medalist Trevor Smith from Ripon and Dylan Bollinger from Sultana. The winner from this match should be able to advance to the quarterfinals, to most likely meet Central Section champion Gabriel Gonzales from Washington Union.
Bottom Bracket
Ranked number one in the state, Jeremy Sweany from Vacaville is one of the Golden State’s outstanding wrestlers. His only loss this season was to two-time Minnesota state champion Brock Berger in overtime at the Clash Tournament. He should have a tough match in the second round against Matt Weiss from Clovis. They have met twice this season with Sweany winning both times, 10-2 and 8-3. Clayton Hartwell from St. James Logan looks like the primary candidate to wrestle Sweany in the quarterfinals. Before Hartwell can do that he has to wrestle Jovanni Virgen from Norkwalk. They met early in the season, with Hartwell coming out on top with a 9-3 win. A good second round match should be between Nick Johnson from Murrieta Valley and Josh Bailey from Frontier. The winner of this match should advance to the semifinals and eventually meet Sweany for the chance to advance to the state finals.

220 Pounds
Top Bracket
Nate Keeve from Terra Nova, the North Coast Section champion, comes to state with only one defeat to an out of state opponent. Last season as a 170 pounder, he went 0-2 in the North Coast Section tournament. He should meet Ricardo Garcia from Turlock in the second round. Matt Boesen, the Southern Section runner-up from West Torrance, comes into state with three defeats this season. He has been impressive this season and can be one of the two bracket busters in this weight class. He should meet Miracle Tausaga from Mt. Miguel in the second round with the winner advancing to the quarterfinals. Manuel Villalobos from Birmingham will try to become the second state placer for his school this weekend. He should win his out bracket and first round match, and meet Paul Vandegriff from Liberty Madera in the second round. Vandegriff and Villalobos met early in January in the first round of the tough Doc Buchanan tournament, with Vandegriff winning 9-7. The No. 1-ranked wrestler in the state, Sean Medley from Wasco, should have a tough match in the second round when he faces Dante Duke from El Dorado.
Bottom Bracket
Third ranked Jordan Sepeda from Natomas should advance to the quarterfinals and wait for Timothy Chassen from Poway. Chassen and Sepeda met in the consolation semifinals of the Doc Buchanan tournament with Sepeda winning 3-1. A good first round match should happen between the Central Coast champion Grant Graham from Saratoga and Kyle Martin from San Jacinto. Don’t be fooled by Martin’s fifth place performance in his section tournament. The Southern Section is such a “meat grinder” that any given day the fifth place wrestler can win state. The winner should meet Hexton Coronado from Clovis in the second round. The other quarterfinals match in the bottom bracket should pit the Northern Section champion Victor Raigoza from Orland against an undefeated wrestler in California, Derrick Jones from Bloomington.

285 Pounds
Top Bracket
Southern Section champion Alex Redmond from Los Alamitos looks like a favorite to advance to the quarterfinals. Before this happens, Redman will have a tough challenge from the Central Coast Section runner-up, Gary Miltenberger from Fremont. 2012 state medalist Nour Andullatif from Roosevelt was injured during his quarterfinals match in the section tournament. If healthy, he should wrestle the San Joaquin Section runner-up, Sam Alnassiri from Sheldon in the first round. If Andullatif wins his first round match, he should wrestle unheard foe Robert Barrios from Pacific Sierra in the second round. San Joaquin section third place finisher Jeff Camili from Ponderosa should win his first match and wrestle North Coast Section champion Dylan Walsh from Las Lomas in the second round. There’s an intriguing first round match between Jonathan Roa from Lemoore and Chris Borrayo from Paramount. The winner of this match should meet San Diego Section champion Chase Eskam from Carlsbad in the second round for the chance to make it to the quarterfinals.
Bottom Bracket
Jaharee Taylor from Elk Grove should wrestle Joey Alvarez from Selma in the second round. Taylor and Alvarez met in the third place bout of the Zinkin Classic early in December, where Taylor came out victorious with a 1-0 win. If these two gladiators meet, either could win the match. In a battle of state top 10 ranked wrestlers in the second round, undefeated Central Coast champion Hidelv Manzur from Palma should meet James Cannon from Escondido. Both were state qualifiers last season and Manzur was a match away from placing. Tyler Hecht from Franklin should make the quarterfinals after meeting Los Angeles Section champion Jose Linan from Birmingham and Jacon Candelaria from Willows in the first and second rounds. An excellent second round match should feature the Southern Section runner-up Kenneth Clark from Carter versus one of the best big men in the nation, Nick Nevills from Clovis. Both are ranked in the top five in California at heavyweight.