Well, the CCT crew has reached Bakersfield. We made our way over to Rabobank Arena and picked up credentials for tomorrow and had a nice conversation with CIF media guru Emmy Zack. She might be the busiest person in California tomorrow. For those who followed the blog last year when we were down here, yes, we passed Wasco State Prison and no, I don’t have any witty comments about the golf course across the street (though the grass wasn’t too green…).
As a means of previewing tomorrow’s first day, I figured I’d throw out some first day matches I’m looking forward to seeing.
103 – Gilberto Camacho (Washington Union-Fresno) vs. Lawrence Blanco (James Logan): Camacho is the defending state champion and Blanco defeated Liberty’s Paul Gomez to win the NCS title. The two could meet in the quarterfinals tomorrow and I wouldn’t be surprised if the winner ends up seeing Bella Vista’s Bryden Lazaro in Saturday’s semifinal.
112 - David Klingsheim (Liberty) vs. Chris Martinez (Clovis West-Clovis): This is a great matchup and it could happen in the second round. In the latest rankings from thecaliforniawrestler.com, Klingsheim is No. 3 in the state and Martinez is No. 4. To make this happen, Klingsheim needs to first beat Calvary Chapel-Santa Ana’s Zane O’Bourke, who is in the honorable mention category in the rankings.
119 - Chase Aura (Foothill) vs. Marcus Orona (Santa Fe): To be the best you have to beat the best and a potential second-round matchup against Orona, ranked No. 4 in the state, looms for Aura. If he beats Orona, he gets to look forward to a possible match against Union Mine-El Dorado’s Cody Tow, the Sac-Joaquin Section champion.
125 - Ruben Baca (James Logan) vs. Angel Garcia (San Dimas): Call me a sucker for seeing the best in the state but Baca is a solid wrestler and Garcia is ranked third in the state. This could be a potential quarterfinal matchup.
130 - Aaron Westphal (Alhambra) vs. Derek Dixson (Vista-San Diego): This potential second-round matchup will tell Westphal all he needs to know about his hopes of medaling. Dixson is ranked No. 7 in the state and was the San Diego Section runner-up to Poway’s Henry Yorba.
135 - David Rios (Liberty) vs. Kyle West (Oak Ridge-El Dorado Hills): Rios wasn’t seriously challenged at the NCS tournament. He’ll get all the challenge he wants with this potential quarterfinal match against West, who is ranked No. 2 in the state. Rios is ranked No. 8.
140 - Trent Stevenson (Arcata) vs. Nikko Cataline (Roosevelt): Yes, I know, neither of these guys is local. I just love watching Stevenson wrestle. He’s technically sound and has a ton of energy. Cataline is ranked No. 8 and Stevenson is No. 4.
145 - Tyler Sheridan (De La Salle) vs. Brad Robinson (Poway) or Vincent Rubio (Lemoore): Robinson and Rubio have to face each other in the first round but whoever wins will likely be the first real test for Sheridan. Sheridan has a pigtail match, so he will have to win two matches to get to this potential second-round showdown.
152 - Aaron Drake (California) vs. Vinny Maraj (Yucca Valley): This could be the best first round match of the day. Drake is the NCS champion and Maraj is ranked second in the state despite finishing sixth at last weekend’s Southern Section meet. You know you’re good when you finish sixth and the ranking doesn’t take a hit.
160 - Jason Welch (Las Lomas) vs. Anthony Duarte (Fountain Valley): Welch begins his quest for a third state title with this pigtail match. Not much to say other than everyone will be watching.
171 - Tito Pica (De La Salle) vs. Tommy Burriel (Clovis): Pica dominated when these two met at Mission San Jose and you have to figure Burriel will be ready for this potential quarterfinal rematch. It will be up to Pica to avoid looking ahead to a possible semifinal showdown with Temecula Valley’s Jake Meredith.
189 - Louis Bland (Central Catholic-Modesto) vs. Wade Jackson (Kingsburg): For all the attention I give Welch, you should know that Bland is looking to win his third state title at the same time. He lost to Ponderosa-Shingle Springs’ Justin Danz last year but I’d be shocked if he gets beat again this year.
215 - Drew Meulman (St. Francis-Mountain View) vs. Brett Sanchez (Clovis): No. 5 (Meulman) vs. No. 3 in the state could meet in the quarters. That’s a lot of talent.
285 - Dominic Galas (Central Catholic-Modesto) vs. Luis Barragan (Gilroy): Galas, who will play football at Cal next year, is the No. 3-ranked heavyweight in the state. Barragan, though unranked, won a Central Coast Section title last weekend and is more than a formidable challenge. In a traditional low-scoring heavyweight bout, this could go either way.
Alright, now you’re ready for tomorrow. I’ll set the blog up tomorrow morning and I’ll try to keep up with all of our locals and with most of the NCS (since I know I’ve got some readers up north). See you in the morning.