by Pablo DiMaria
Golden State Wrestling News
We are weeks away from the postseason to take place and what better way to close out the 2018-19 season by writing about one of the best tournaments in the central coast – the CIT Morro Bay Invitational.
The tournament mostly gathers teams from the central and northern parts of California with some variety of southern section teams. As of this writing, entries have not been made public, so some of these competitors could change weight classes or not enter at all. Richard Sandoval (120), Josh Medina (132), and Mark Cardwell (170) return with high hopes of acquiring their second title.
Returning CIT place winner Andrew Silva (Servite) looks to be the favorited at this weight class. Up a weight, Silva was third at 106 last year and went on to compete at the state tournament. This season, he was a Zinkin and Five Counties medalist and owns a (14-5) win over Joaquin Arroyo (Calvary Chapel) who will be competing this weekend and recently placed fourth at Battle for the Belt. A wrestler that might be seeing Silva in the finals is Carter Bailey of Granada. The sophomore placed fourth at the Zinkin Classic by losing the third-place bout (4-3) to the # 1 wrestler in California in Carlos Negrete of Buchanan. Other wrestlers ready to challenge the field include state qualifier Mokbel Obeid (Patterson), and masters meet section qualifiers Donovan Medina (Camarillo), and Martin Chavez (Orange Cove).
A defending champion, two runner-up's and three other place winners of this event make the 120-weight class a difficult one. Richard Sandoval (Santa Ynez) is the returning champion at 120-pounds. He is a state qualifier and was a titlist at the rugged Sierra Nevada tournament. 2018 runner-up at 106 William Giron of Turlock will try to improve on the podium and finish this weekend as the champion. He is a state place winner but has been having a roller coaster of a season. Lorenzo Arreola of Dinuba is a two-time state qualifier and was second in this event at 113-pounds. He has seen limited action this season so it is up in the air if he will compete this weekend. A sophomore with great accolades is Clayton Bashor of Oakdale. Bashor is a state qualifier and was sixth at Reno TOC during December. Marcus Medina of Servite is having a great season for the Friars by placing eighth at the Zinkin Classic and fifth at Five Counties. He is a wrestler that should be considered the dark horse of this weight. Other wrestlers ready to challenge the field include state qualifier Jesse Gayton (Lemoore) and Sean Yamasaki (Dos Pueblos).
One of the top sophomores in California will be in action at 126lbs with the expected entry of Henry Porter from Oakdale. A California state finalist, Porter, proved to everyone that his run to the state was no fluke as he placed eighth at the Walsh Jesuit Ironman tournament and recently fifth at Doc Buchanan. Another wrestler who also competed at Doc Buchanan is Kobe Lepe of San Fernando. Lepe dropped his first match to Porter (9-2) but rebounded back by winning three consecutive matches to finish in the blood round. Lepe is a two-time Los Angeles Section Champion. A wrestler that will be dangerous for any opponent is Adrian Heras (Turlock). He recently placed second at the Tim Brown Invitational by upsetting state medalist Dakota Unpingco of Freedom (4-3) in the semifinal round. Returning place winner Wyatt Bedrosian (Coalinga) has made the jump all the way up from 106, where he was fifth at this weight last year. He is a state qualifier out of the tough central section. Other wrestlers who should be contenders include Eli Blackwell (Tracy) who was a state qualifier and has advanced to the finals of four tournaments this season and Marcos Magana (Servite) who was seventh at Five Counties. Keep an eye on freshman sensation Caesar Garza of Oakdale who is wrestling behind Porter. He was eighth at Reno and recently placed third at Tim Brown by defeating Dakota Unpingco, 4-3.
Josh Medina of Servite and Noah Mirelez of Patterson should be the top two wrestlers at this weight class. Medina is a scrappy wrestler who twice has finished second at Five Counties. Despite not having been to the state tournament in his career due to injuries, Medina is one of the top 132-pound wrestlers in the golden state. He will be in the hunt of his second CIT championship as he was a titlist at 126 last year. Noah Mirelez (Patterson) was triumphant last season in advancing to the state tournament where he finished 2-2. He had a tournament of his life at Doc Buchanan as he placed sixth after injury defaulting in the semifinal round. We should see some fireworks to occur if both wrestlers meet in the finals. One of the few who could crack the Medina/Mirelez party is Wayne Joint (Lemoore). Joint is a sophomore who was a state qualifier last season for coach Marcio Bothelo, a former All-American for Fresno State. He is up from 113 where he was third here last year. Don't sleep on Chaz Hallmark (Scripps Ranch) who is a two-time San Diego Section place winner. He went 3-2 at Doc Buchanan where he defeated highly ranked wrestlers Logan Gioffre of Buchanan and Brenden Johnson of Del Oro. Other wrestlers ready to challenge the field include Battle for the Belt place winner Luke Gayer (Calvary Chapel), masters meet qualifier Daniel Heller (Beverly Hills), Porter Tanner (Paso Robles), Jude Miranda (Hanford) and Jose Flores (Monache).
Not at bad setup at 138 with three of the wrestlers in this weight class being either state place winners of Fargo medalist. Leading the way is three-time state medalist, and Stanford commit Luciano Arroyo of Calvary Chapel. A low center of gravity wrestler, Arroyo will be attempting to place four-times in the state of California this year, an achievement rarely done in the golden state. He will try to redeem himself after not placing at the Battle for the Belt tournament last weekend at Temecula Valley. Right behind him is Ricky Torres of Oakdale who he himself is a three-time state qualifier and two-time medal winner. He was fourth at Reno TOC but had a hard time at Doc Buchanan as he went 2-2. Teddy Okada (Servite) comes from a great lineage as his father (Tony) was a two-time state champion and a 1992 Olympian in Judo. Teddy is a Fargo Greco-Roman All-American, and he is coming off from placing fourth at Five Counties. Other wrestlers ready to challenge the field include state qualifier Dominic Leon (Golden Valley) and North Coast Section place winner Jonathan Nguyen (Granada).
The 145-weight class is wide open for any wrestler having a great weekend ready to conquer the event. A runner-up in this weight class is undefeated wrestler Jacob Hansen (Royal). Hansen advanced to the finals of this tournament by defeating highly ranked opponents before getting defeated in the finals by current Northern Illinois wrestler Olejnik Izzak. Another finalist from this event that is up from 126 is Daniel Magana of Servite. A great wrestler in the neutral position, Magana was successful this season in placing third at the Zinkin Classic. Keep an eye on Trenton Munoz (Valencia) who was second at Cerritos TOC behind Hansen. Freshman phenom Matthew Rodriguez (Righetti) was fourth at Zinkin and recently placed fifth at Battle for the Belt. He is currently 1-1 with Magana this season.
The odds-on favorite at this weight class is Noah Cortez (Dinuba). Last year Cortez was third at this event at 145-pounds. He is a state place winner and was a champion at Zinkin while placing second at Battle for the Belt. There are plenty of opportunities for previously unheralded wrestlers to make a name for themselves. One of those could be Valor Buck (Servite). Buck looked good on Tuesday as he earned the fall against his opponent to help Servite defeat nationally ranked team St. John Bosco, 41-32. He has placed at four tournaments this season with his best showing being at Zinkin as he placed fourth in a loaded field. Andrew Sparks (Calvary) was sixth at 126 last year in this event. He finished top 12 at Doc Buchanan and is coming off from placing fourth at Battle for the Belt. Benny Banduenga (Righetti) is a state qualifier who recently placed fifth at Battle for the Belt, considered the second toughest tournament in California by many wrestling fans. He wrestled Sparks in the consolation semifinal round and was pinned in the second period. Other wrestlers ready to challenge the field include Tim Brown place winner Patrick Garcia (Modesto Christian), Zinkin place winner Hunter Avila (Monache), and three-time state qualifier Eric Rocha of San Fernando.
The 160-weight class is a bit thin when it comes to competition. Leading the way is William Kloster of Lemoore. The senior who is a state qualifier has placed at both Doc Buchanan and Five Counties tournaments. He was seventh at the section tournament and finished a match shy of garnering All-State status last year. Michael Valdez (Calvary Chapel) comes from a great lineage as both his uncles (Dane and Shane) were multiple times All-Americans for the University of Oklahoma. Valdez recently finished top 12 at Battle for the Belt. Keep an eye on Nathan Garcia (Paso Robles) who was second at Cerritos TOC, and he is currently coach by two-time NCAA Division I National Champion John Azevedo. Other wrestlers ready to challenge the field include Raymond Torres (South Bakersfield), Jake Prudek (Caruthers), and Tyler Okada (Servite).
This is a weight class with three solid competitors that will be vying for the championship title. First is Mark Cardwell (Monache) who is a returning champion of this event. Cardwell is a three-time state qualifier and was successful last year in making the podium by placing fourth. He placed at Doc Buchanan, and he is coming off from winning the prestigious Battle for the Belt tournament. Competing with Cardwell for a title is Daniel Long (Dinuba) and Gabriel Martinez (Oakdale). Martinez is looking to rebound after a subpar Doc Buchanan performance where he finished 3-2. Martinez was a state finalist last year for Coach Steve Strange. Long finished sixth at Battle for the Belt after losing a hard-fought 3-2 TB-1 match in the semifinal round and injury defaulting from the tournament. He is also a 2018 state place winner. Other wrestlers ready to challenge the field include Gerry Fulgentes (Royal), Neil Carter (Servite), Isaac Maez (Arroyo Grande), and Lance Couchman (Turlock).
The clear-cut favorite in this weight class is two-time North Coast Section Champion Jack Kilner (Granada). Last year as a junior he was a match away from the podium at state. He was second at Doc Buchanan and redeem himself at the event by defeating Tyler Gianakopulos of Clovis who gave him his first defeat of the season. Cody Golding (Oakdale) was fifth last year at the section tournament and advanced to the state tournament. He was triumphant last week in winning the Tim Brown Invitational at 195-pounds. Nico Hanessian (Simi Valley) is the highest returning place winner in this weight class as he was third at 182-pounds. He was a state qualifier by going 1-2. Other wrestlers ready to challenge the field include state qualifier Luciano Manzo (Chowchilla), and Five Counties place winners Oskar Ruiz (Pioneer Valley) and Chris Flores (Servite).
Last week at Five Counties, junior Tristen Wilson (Servite) had the tournament of his life as he was able to defeat No. 3 in the state Erich Osteen of Chaminade 10-4 to advance to the semifinal round. This weekend we should expect a similar outcome from him with his outstanding style of competition. However, we can't forget about Andrew Rasmussen (Faith Baptist) who is a two-time state qualifier and was a match shy of placing. A substantial threat to disrupt a possible Wilson/Rasmussen match is Kwabena Watson (Edison, Fresno). Watson is a two-time state qualifier out of the tough central section. During the early part of the season, he was a champion at the Chukchansi tournament and finished a match shy of placing at Zinkin. Another name to an eye on is Alejandro Zepeda (Pioneer Valley) who was eighth at Five Counties.