The largest — and arguably the most challenging — high school wrestling tournament in the country is hosted by the California Interscholastic Federation. The tournament includes 27,000 wrestlers from over 900 schools in California. Only 560 qualified for State, just two percent, and only 14 will be crowned State champions in their respective weight classes.
The two-day event kicked off on Friday morning from the Rabobank Arena in Bakersfield with seven representatives from Pitman and Turlock high competing, respectively.
By the end of the first day, six had advanced to the second day while only one moved on to the semifinal — Isaiah Perez (220) of Pitman.
“Right now we want to keep our weight down. We want to be ready and every match you must take second by second and any chance you can get a win you have to do it,” said Pitman head coach Adam Vasconcellos. “We just have to take advantage of the chances. Medaling is the goal; a lot of wins need to happen. Isaiah is already in the medals.”
Turlock advanced all three representatives in Mike Jeffus (HWY), Breck Jeffus (182) and Will Giron (106).
All three reached the quarterfinals before losing and being bumped into the consolation bracket.
The Pride of Pitman moved three on in Perez, Brendan Tallent (195) and Kendall La Rosa (145).
Perez paved the way as he dominated his bracket after three matches, which he made look so easy. He ended up going 4-0. Tallent went 3-1 for the day while La Rosa lost his first match then won three straight.
“It’s hard to get wins in this tournament, any time you can win a match it’s a good thing,” said Vasconcellos. “Our heavier dudes are fighting men … fighting for our school.”
Only Pitman’s Sammy Silveira (132) was eliminated in day one from either school. Silveira, who was ranked No. 15 in the bracket fell in a very close decision in his opening round match to an unranked opponent.
He followed his loss with a win via fall but then ended his season with a loss, 4-2, that sent the sophomore home.
Sophomore La Rosa picked up the toughest draw in his bracket, immediately taking on No. 1 Peyton Omania.
La Rosa fell via fall but came back with a vengeance and picked up three straight wins in the consolation bracket, earning a berth into the second day.
Teammate Tallent captured back-to-back wins before he was sent to the consolation bracket. From there Mike Jeffus of Turlock came out ready and won three straight matches in convincing fashion, advancing to the quarterfinals before he fell to the No. 2 seed Jake Levengood of Vacaville in a 5-3 loss.
Turlock’s Giron couldn’t have had a smoother start to the day. Giron won his first two matches via fall before edging out No. 6 Ramiro Castillo of Central in a close 2-1 decision.
Giron went on to lose to No. 3 Carlos Negrete in the quarterfinal round, which ended the day for Giron who advances.
No. 7 Breck Jeffus of Turlock wrestled as if he was ready to roll. Breck won his first match via fall, then pulled out a 5-1 decision against No. 10 Carlos Gomez, leaping him into the quarterfinals. From there Breck fell to #2 Nathan Tausch of Poway.
The semifinals and finals will conclude from Rabobank Arena at 9 a.m. Saturday.