Four wrestlers will aim for a second straight state individual championship when the CIF state meet gets underway at Rabobank Arena in Bakersfield.
David Klingsheim of Liberty, Martin Gonzalez of Gilroy, Vlad Dombroski of Natomas and Roger McCovey of Del Norte all won state titles last season and are favored to do so again this week.
Klingsheim and Gonzalez will also attempt to become four-time state placewinners. Klingsheim finished eighth at 103 pounds as a freshman and fifth at 112 pounds as a sophomore before winning the 112-pound class last year.
Gonzalez finished fifth at 103 pounds as a freshman and seventh at 119 pounds as a sophomore. Gonzalez was the 119-pound champion in 2008.
Dombroski, meanwhile, came out of nowhere to win a state title last season. The third qualifier out of the Sac-Joaquin Section, Dombroski had never competed in folkstyle wrestling before immigrating to the United States from the Ukraine. Unranked entering last year’s state championships, Dombroski won the 140-pound weight class.
McCovey has barely been scored upon the past two seasons. As a junior, McCovey went 41-0 with a win over previously undefeated Dominic Galas of Central Catholic in the 275-pound class. This year, McCovey is 48-0 and is currently ranked No. 1 in the nation.
Although the brackets at the state meet are set up by a random draw of pre-formulated plans, the top two wrestlers in each weight class, as ranked by the California Wrestler, are on opposite sides of the bracket in nearly every weight class. Following is a closer look at the potential matchups in each class.
Central Section champion Alex Cisneros of Selma is ranked No. 1 in the class and is aiming to become one of the few freshman state champions in CIF history. Cisneros is reportedly undefeated on the season and will face a tough test in the semifinals against De La Salle’s Vinny Moita. On the other side of the bracket, North Torrance senior Kevin Mai, the Southern Section champion, provides the biggest roadblock to a state title for Cisneros.
Gilroy’s Jesse Delgado is a returning finalist and is ranked No. 1 in the state, but he will have a tough road to a second straight finals appearance. Besides possibly meeting Barstow’s Sean Silva in the second round, he’ll then have to get past Vince Rodriguez of Clovis North, the state’s third-ranked 112-pounder, in the semifinals.
Meanwhile Clovis West’s Zach Zimmer, a finalist last year at 103 pounds, will likely battle Estevan Cabanas of Canyon Springs in the semifinals. Zimmer is ranked No. 2 while Cabanas is No. 5. Alfonso Osuna of Brawley, ranked No. 4, will likely meet Cabanas in the quarterfinals and has a shot to reach the finals. Zimmer defeated Rodriguez 2-1 in double overtime in the Central Section finals.
Klingsheim has been one of the more dominant wrestlers in the state this year. Other than a disqualification at the Reno TOC, Klingsheim has not lost a match. He also has a win over Gilroy’s Gonzalez at the Five Counties Tournament at 125 pounds.
Nevertheless, Klingsheim will have a couple of tough tests en route to the finals. He’ll have to get past Bobby Morales of Laguna Hills, the No. 4 ranked wrestler in the state. If he advances to the semifinals, he’ll likely face either Chad Thornock of San Jacinto, ranked No. 5, or Chris Martinez of Clovis West, ranked No. 6.
Southern Section No. 1 Steve Salinas of Northview is on the other side of the bracket and will likely face Fabian Garcia of Turlock in the semifinals. Salinas is ranked No. 2 and Garcia is No. 3.
This weight class could see a rematch of last year’s 119-pound final with Gonzalez of Gilroy favored to face Brandon Rocha of Lemoore. Rocha is currently ranked No. 2 in the state behind the returning champion. Gonzalez defeated Rocha 4-3 at Five Counties in the semifinals.
Rocha has the tougher road as he must get past Cody Tow of Union Mine in the quarterfinals and Ryan Fillingame of Sultana in the semifinals. Gonzalez’s toughest match appears to be either Sac-Joaquin champion Shane Tate of Oakdale, who is ranked No. 5 in the state, or Clinton McAlester of Clovis, who is ranked No. 4.
Jose Mendoza of Selma is the wildcard in this weight class. Although he finished only fourth at the Central Section tournament, he defeated No. 1 ranked Henry Yorba of Poway in the finals at Five Counties.
Mendoza has a tough route to the finals, however. He faces Connor Morgan of Del Oro in the first round and would have to defeat Cody Howe of Windsor, the No. 5 ranked wrestler, in the quarterfinals. Should Mendoza reach the semifinals, either Raul Estrada of Madera North, the Central Section champion, or Frank Martinez of Northview likely awaits. Estrada is ranked No. 4 while Martinez is No. 6.
Yorba figures to reach the finals on the other side of the bracket, but he will face No. 3 ranked Daniel Horcacitas of Redlands East Valley in the semifinals.
This weight class might be the most wide open considering that only one of the wrestlers ranked among the top eight placed at last year’s meet. That one wrestler is Corey Johnson of Del Oro, who finished eighth at 125 pounds.
Seth Hicks of Centennial is ranked No. 1 in the weight class and is reportedly undefeated on the season. He’ll likely meet Johnson in the second round and will have either North Coast Section champion Ryan Smith of Liberty or Kalin Goodsite of Martin Luther King in the semifinals.
Mitch Newcomer of the Laguna Hills, the Southern Section champ, and Conrad Snell of Poway, the San Diego Section winner, appear headed on a collision course for the other semifinal matchup. Newcomer defeated Snell 10-4 at Five Counties for the gold medal.
Dombroski is the defending champion, but he is not the overwhelming favorite here. That’s because he lost 4-2 to Jonah Sanchez of Bakersfield in the finals at Five Counties. Dombroski will have to face Sanchez in the semifinals in order to meet Lemoore’s Nick Sierra in the finals.
Sierra must get past Nalan Ludwig of Elk Grove, the No. 7 ranked wrestler, and Irvine’s Kyle Chene in order to reach the finals. Oak Ridge’s Kyle West, a finalist last year, could also figure into the mix. He’ll need a win over Chene to reach the semifinals.
All signs point to an all-Central Section final with Clovis’ Scott Sakaguchi meeting Washington Union’s Alex Rodriguez. Sakaguchi defeated Rodriguez in the second round of the Central Section masters, but Rodriguez, who is ranked No. 2 in the state behind Sakaguchi, came back to finish third.
Rodriguez will have to get past Hollister’s Josh Ramirez in the second round, Vacaville’s Tyler Hodel in the quarterfinals and Sultana’s Cody Bollinger in the semifinals to reach the championship match. The three potential opponents are all ranked in the top six in the state.
Sakaguchi has to get past Freedom’s Nick Waldrop in the quarterfinals and Folsom’s Jordan Hart in the semifinals. Hart is ranked No. 4 in the state.
Sakaguchi will be looking for a bit of redemption this year after a disappointing performance last season. Sakaguchi entered last year’s state meet as a Central Section champion, but lost to Newcomer and Sierra and finished with a 1-2 record.
The Sac-Joaquin Section could have two wrestlers in the finals in this weight class. Merced’s Chris Urquizo is ranked No. 1 while Central Catholic’s TJ Belton is No. 2. Urquizo reached the finals as a sophomore, but did not wrestle in last year’s tournament. Belton, meanwhile finished fourth last year at 152 pounds. Urquizo defeated Belton 3-0 at the Sac-Joaquin Section finals.
Urquizo has Foothill’s Travis Gallegos and Calvary Chapel’s Tigran Adzhemyan on his side of the bracket, however they will likely meet in the quarterfinals.
Belton could face Central Section champion Bryce Hammond of Bakersfield in the quarterfinals and De La Salle’s Tyler Sheridan in the semifinals. Sheridan is ranked third and Hammond is ranked fifth in the state.
This weight class has three wrestlers that each have the capability of winning the gold. Stephen West of Buchanan is the favorite after winning the Central Section championship over Madera’s James Cook. West finished third last year after losing in the quarterfinals to Patrick Martinez of Temecula Valley.
Martinez is ranked second in the state, one spot ahead of Cook, who finished second at 152 pounds last year while competing for Clovis West.
Martinez and Cook are on the same side of the bracket and could meet in the semifinals. West will have to get past De La Salle’s Luke Sheridan to reach the finals.
Morgan McIntosh of Calvary Chapel had an impressive state meet as a freshman, finishing fifth at 160 pounds. He’s the favorite this year after winning the Five Counties Tournament and taking first place at the Southern Section meet.
Winters’ Jesse Hellinger is ranked second in the state and he’ll try to erase the memories of last year’s meet when he lost in the first round and finished 2-2. Hellinger’s lost just once this year and won the Sierra Nevada Tournament.
Hellinger has the tougher road to the finals as he’ll need to get past Fountain Valley’s Anthony Duarte in the quarterfinals and El Dorado’s Jordan Williams in the semifinals.
This class could feature one of the best championship matches of the tournament should Poway’s Ian Daube and Granite Bay’s Ryan Loder each reach the finals. Loder is undefeated on the season while Daube defeated Loder last year in the quarterfinals of the state meet. Daube is currently ranked No. 1 while Loder is No. 2.
Tommy Burriel of Clovis stands in Loder’s path to the finals. They’ll likely meet in the semifinals. JT Felix of Centennial, the Southern Section champion, is Daube’s toughest competition en route to the finals.
The Northern Section could play the biggest role in determining this weight class. Modoc’s Josh Wood was ranked No. 1 for much of the season after winning the Reno TOC, but he dropped to No. 3 behind Nick Pica of Concord and Drew Meulman of St. Francis after losing to Meulman at Gilroy.
Austin Morehead of Sutter then moved into the mix when he edged Wood in the Northern Section final 8-7.
Morehead will likely face Pica in the semifinals while Wood will get a chance to avenge the loss to Meulman in the semifinals.
A pair of undefeated wrestlers appears destined to meet in the heavyweight final. McCovey is ranked No. 1 in the nation and hasn’t lost a match in two years. Meanwhile John Glenn’s Jose Lopez is undefeated and was the MVP at Five Counties. Lopez finished fifth at last year’s state meet, losing to Norte Vista’s Willie Hernandez who then lost to McCovey in the semifinals.