By Kevin Askeland
The top wrestlers in the state of California will be in one of two places this weekend. They'll either be at Five Counties Tournament in Southern California or at the Tim Brown Memorial in Sacramento.
Five Counties, which is held at Fountain Valley High School, has 96 teams entered in the event including 22 of the top 27 teams in The California Wrestlers team rankings. Among the 112 wrestlers that are ranked in the top eight in the 14 weight classes by the California Wrestler, 77 of them will be at Five Counties including 12 No. 1 ranked wrestlers and 10 No. 2s.
Meanwhile at the Tim Brown Memorial, 25 of the top-ranked wrestlers in the state will compete, including the contingent from No. 2 ranked Clovis, No. 15 Red Bluff and No. 20 Las Lomas.
Among the most anticipated matches at Five Counties this weekend include No. 1 vs. No. 2 state rankings battles between Jesse Delgado of Gilroy and Estevan Cabanas of Canyon Springs at 112 pounds, Thomas Williams of South Hills and Martin Gonzalez of Gilroy at 119, Kody Klaus of Vacaville and Caleb Valloton of Foothill at 125, Justin Arredondo of Buchanan and Henry Yorba of Poway at 130, David Watts of El Diamante and Trevor Machado-Ching of Oakdale at 140, Travis Rasmussen of Bakersfield and Jarrod Brookshire of Sultana at 145, Anthony Meza of Vista and Vinny Miraj of Yucca Valley at 152, and Louis Bland of Central Catholic and Hunter Collins of Gilroy at 189.
Tim Brown will potentially have some exciting finals matches as well with Jonathan Zamora of Clovis and Andrew Benjamin of Jesuit matching up at heavyweight, Matt Gibson of Bethel and Brett Sanchez of Clovis at 215, Brad Pace of Ponderosa and Daniel Montelongo of Madera at 171, Jason Welch of Las Lomas and Josh Esparza of Clovis at 160 and Kyle West of Oak Ridge and Jerrin Miller of Natomas at 135 pounds.
Clovis enters the Tim Brown Invitational as the clear favorite. After a week of rest, the Cougars come in refreshed. Red Bluff, which has first-place finishes at Lemoore and Clayton Valley, will also be near the top of the team standings. The Spartans are a recent addition to the state team rankings thanks to the strong recent tournament wins and the addition of Dustin Reid to the 152-pound rankings (No. 8) and the inclusion of Kevin Daugherty and Forrest Garner on the honorable mention list. Stephan Hampton, meanwhile, has been ranked near the middle of the 189-pound class most of the season.
At Five Counties, Poway also comes in rest with no tournament action in the past two weeks. The Titans have 10 possible placewinners in their lineup and the favorite to win the 135-pound weight class in Tim Boone.
In tournament action last weekend, Central Catholic had Bland back on the mat for his first big tournament of the year and his presence helped the Raiders posted a huge win at the inaugural Big Valley Classic in Stockton.
Bland, who missed the month of December due to the football bowl games and an all-star football game, started practicing two weeks ago, according to a report in the Modesto Bee. Wrestling at 189 pounds, Bland pinned his first two opponents, won a third on injury default, won his semifinal match by pin and then topped Ryan Loder of Granite Bay 13-5 in the finals.
The Raiders scored 332.5 points in the tournament to edge second-place Ponderosa (220.5) by over 100 points. Turlock was third with 216 points while Golden Valley had 212 and DeLaSalle scored 197. The Clovis second team was sixth with 179 points.
Bland was one of 12 placewinners for the Raiders, who had six wrestlers in the finals. Dominic Galas won the heavyweight division with a victory over Josh Rozario of Clovis. Meanwhile his brother Mathew lost in the 216-pound final to Dominic Demarco of Ponderos by pin. Maveric Ille won the 131-pound class while Steven Vasquez was first at 161 pounds.
In a unique situation at 103 pounds, Central Catholic's Andrew Perez lost to his older brother Vincent Perez, who attends Pitman, by a 9-2 decision. The elder Pitman is ranked No. 4 in the state while Andrew is a freshman at Central Catholic.
Among the top Southern California tournaments, Temecula Valley won its own tournament with 217.5 points. Vista was second with 172 and North Torrance was third with 143.5 points. Jake Meredith of Temecula Valley was the upper weight MVP and was one of 11 placewinners for TV. Jeremy Gendreau of ST. John Bosco was the lower weight MVP.
At West Covina, Anthony Caudillo led the hosts to a tournament win with 265.5 points. Caudillo was the lower weight MVP with three pins and a decision. Matt Lopez of Northview was the upper weight MVP.
The home team also won the Laguna Hills Tournament with Laguna Hills piling up 308.5 points to win the event by nearly 200 points. The hosts had nine champions and put 12 in the finals. Bobby Morales and Steve Mills were the two MVPs, both from Laguna Hills.
Bishop Amat scored 176 points to top California (158) for the Best in the Valley Tournament at Chaminade High School. BA had five champions on the day.
At Rancho Cucamonga, La Coast Canyon scored 206.5 points to top Oxnard for the title. Angel Garcia of San Dimas was the lightweight MVP and Dylan Klink of San Clemente was the upper weight MVP.
At Scripps Ranch, Sutter of the Northern Section won the championship with 262.5 points finishing ahead of Steele Canyon (245) and Brawley (221.5).
In the Bay Area, Red Bluff won the Clayton Valley Tournament with four champions, including Nick Foushee (140), Dustin Reid (152), Travis Schaefer (160) and Stephan Hampton (189). Red Bluff scored 174, followed by Freedom with 140 and Oak Ridge with 136.
Chico claimed the Mark Fuller tournament in Lincoln with 191 points. Woodcreek was second at 186. The Panthers had two champions (Tanner Trimm, 103, Phong Lee, 125) and 12 placewinners.