The California Interscholastic Federation State Wrestling Championships is two days away. After countless hours of practice and months of preparation—and in some cases years—seven local wrestlers are on the cusp of what will be the biggest stage of their wrestling careers. They’re State bound.
Pitman High has qualified four wrestlers, Turlock High has qualified two, and Hilmar High has qualified one. From different backgrounds and in different brackets, each has earned a shot at immortalizing their names in the hallowed books of California wrestling. All that’s left to be seen now is who will rise to the occasion and fulfill their State medal dreams.
Rafael Herrera - Turlock High
Herrera qualifies for State for the second consecutive year, returning to Bakersfield after finishing 2-2 in the previous tournament. With a 43-8 record on the season, this senior also boasts a Central California Conference championship and a Division I Sac Joaquin Section championship. After placing 7th at Masters, Herrera will face the defending 126-pound State champion Jonny Parada of San Fernando High in his first match on Friday.
Nick Valadez – Pitman High
Valadez makes his first State appearance this year, coming off a 45-6 season in which he earned a CCC title and placed third at the Division I SJS tournament. With a 5th place finish in last week’s Masters Tournament, this Pride junior finds himself in a first-round matchup with Adrian Tovar of Poway High.
Logan Wolfley – Pitman High
After four years of trying, the senior Wolfley finally makes his State debut thanks to his second place finish at Masters. Boasting a 46-5 record, Wolfley is also a CCC champion and third place Division I SJS finisher. As part of Pitman’s biggest class of State qualifiers, Wolfley takes on Jake Maas of Liberty High in Friday’s first match.
Albino Orozco – Turlock High
Orozco makes his second straight trip to the State meet this year, joining his teammate Herrera as the only wrestlers of the local crop with State experience. After placing second at Masters and earning CCC and Division I SJS championships, Orozco enters the tournament with a season record of 43-6 as he looks to best his 0-2 performance from a year ago. Orozco’s first-round opponent has yet to be determined as he will face either Josh Ames of Porterville High or Kolton Osborn of Trabuco Hills High.
Antonio Melo – Hilmar High
Melo becomes the first Yellowjacket to qualify for State since Joe Walthour 21 years ago. In only his fourth year of wrestling, Melo enters the tournament with a 41-3 season record, a Trans Valley League championship, and a Division V SJS championship. Exiting Masters in 6th place due to injury default, Melo is expected to enter the tournament at less than 100%. Still, Melo will make the best of his State appearance as he prepares to face either Christian Elk of Washington High or Deric Ginther of Royal High in the first round of day one.
Nick Roditis – Pitman High
The second-year wrestler and senior hits this year’s State meet as Pitman’s lone Division I SJS champion. With a 21-1 record, Roditis is also a reigning CCC champion as well as a 6th place finisher at Masters, though he placed 6th due to injury default. Roditis faces David Vanweems of Centennial High in the first round as the two try to earn the right to face Jack Loumena of Leland High in the second round on Friday.
Eric Bejaran – Pitman High
Bejaran posted a 40-11 season record, earned a 2nd place CCC finish, placed third at the Division I SJS Tournament, and placed 6th at Masters—due to injury default like his teammate Roditis—in 2014. In his first year as a Pitman wrestler, Bejaran makes his first State appearance as he is set to wrestle Chance Eskam of Carlsbad High in his first match of the day as the two compete to face Daniel Mendoza of Archbishop Mitty High in the second round on Friday.