Saturday marked the conclusion of the California Interscholastic Federation Wrestling Championships and by the end of the day only one local wrestler out of four had made it into the finals—Jesse Flores (HWY) of Delhi.
Unfortunately for Flores, he met the No. 1 heavyweight in the country in Seth Nevills out of Clovis in the final and the result, like the previous two meetings earlier in the year, was the same—a loss.
Flores was pinned in under 52 seconds by Nevills, but he also secured the best finish for any wrestler to come out of Delhi with a second-place medal, besting his third-place finish of last season.
“It was just real nerve wrecking, every time you wrestle him it’s different things he does,” said Flores. “He is No. 1 in nation for a reason…You wouldn't expect him to be so strong and quick for being so tall and big.”
Flores went 5-0 heading into the afternoon’s championship session. He also didn't expect to do what he did leading up to the final match.
“I thought and knew I could make it to the second day and top 8 but I was thinking more semifinals or consolation or third at least, but making the championship was a bonus,” said Flores. “Getting to wrestle in front of all those people was real cool.”
Flores is now committed to Modesto Junior College football coming off a record season for the Delhi Hawks football team in the fall where they recorded the most wins in a single season (8).
Pitman brothers Isaiah Perez (170) and Izzy Tubera (106) also managed to make some history of their own as the tandem took home medals for the Pride.
Freshman Tubera, 15, took seventh in his first state tournament with a 5-2 record.
“Everyone told me that making it as a freshman was an accomplishment in itself, so the fact that I placed felt even better,” said Tubera. “This was a goal to make it there. I knew I had good guys I would have to face but the team and coaches helped me all through it. And Isaiah helped me so much this year. He is my role model.”
“I am extremely proud of my brother and I am glad we both medaled this year,” said Perez, who is a junior. “We are going to have to both place next year and even possibly both make it to the finals since next year is my senior year and I'm gonna have to leave it all out there on the mat.”
Perez, who moved up several weight divisions from a year ago, ended up placing the highest he ever has with a fourth-place finish after going 6-2.
“There's always room for improvement and I just need to polish a couple of things up for next year to possibly make it to the state finals next year,” said Perez. “But I was very happy that I performed to the best of my abilities and I think moving up so much weight in one year was kind of a good thing because I still had the speed and agility of a lower-weight wrestler at a heavier weight.”
In the two prior seasons, Perez did not place after going 1-1 his freshman year at 113 pounds followed by a 2-2 performance last year as a sophomore at 138 pounds.
“I was quicker than most guys, so it was sort of an advantage and I knew I had to prove myself at this weight class because there was so much competition,” said Perez. “I had to step it up to get on the podium.”
Both Perez and Tubera plan on moving up some weight classes next year.
“I'm going to try and move up in weight. I wanna get bigger and heavier maybe next year try and cut to 20s or so,” Tubera added. “I would summarize this year as one of the best years I've had. I won all of my duals and made it to the finals in really good tournaments and even won some. This was the best season I have ever had with my record and how I have been wrestling.”
“I do not plan on staying at 170 whatsoever,” Perez added. “I'm still growing and I know I'm going to end up just getting bigger. I have already seen my pattern from 113, 138 to 170. So, I'm thinking possibly 195 next year, but I do plan on putting on more muscle over the summer and hitting the weights more.”
Hilmar's Cody Rentfro made history of his own after bringing the Yellowjackets their first state wrestling medal since 1992. Rentfro (182) placed seventh in the tournament and gave praise to his old coach for a little extra motivation.
“My old coach Bruce Scott, he came and told me how to go out my senior year a winner,” said Rentfro. “We were going for the medal round when I pinned the kid to get into it I knew whatever afterwards was icing on the cake. I went out a winner and will remember it for the rest of my life.”
Rentfro went 5-2 and left a legacy that will remain forever and a bar that was set for his younger brother Justin, who was eliminated after the first day with a 2-2 record.
“Justin said to me after that I should have set the bar higher for next year and I laughed,” said Rentfro. “Next year I will help still, but he sort of knows what he needs to do and can't mess around.”
Breck Jeffus (195) of Turlock was eliminated after his first match on Saturday in the second day and finished with a 2-2 record while Adam Velasquez (126) of Pitman did not medal.