Today marks the beginning of the end of the wrestling season with the 2015 CIF State Boys Wrestling Championships. Wrestlers from all over California, who have had March 6 circled on their calendars all year, have flooded into the Rabobank Arena in Bakersfield for the first day of competition to test their mettle and chase a dream.
Among the state hopefuls stands four wrestlers from Pitman High, the only representatives from the Turlock area. Each have taken different paths to get to the pinnacle of the 2015 wrestling season, but they all share a desired destination — the top of the podium as a State Champion.
Isiah Perez - 113 pounds
With a fifth place finish at the Sac-Joaquin Section Masters Championships last weekend, Perez is only the second freshman in Pitman High history to qualify for the State Tournament. Perez enters the tournament with a 46-9 record and is the reigning Central California Conference champion. Perez finished second in the SJS D1AA Championships, one of the few tournaments he didn't win this year as he's placed first in the Mann Classic, the Bear Creek Invitational Tournament, the California Coast Classic, the Jim Root Classic and the Rumble in the Jungle.
Adam Velasquez – 120 pounds
Velasquez enters today's tournament with a 14-3 record, reflective of his long absence from the mat through the season. Despite it being one of the few tournaments he competed in on the year for, Velasquez placed first in the CCC Championships, which was followed by a second-place effort in the SJS D1AA Championships and a sixth place finish at the SJS Masters Championships. Today marks the Pride sophomore's first time competing at the state level, though he qualified last year for Modesto High but was forced to withdraw due to injury.
Angel Velasquez – 132 pounds
Like his brother, Velasquez got a late start to the 2015 season. Once the Pride senior hit the mat, however, he's been perfect with a 20-0 record and multiple tournament championships. Velasquez placed first at the McNair Invitational, the Rumbler in the Jungle, the CCC Championships, the SJS D1AA Championships and the SJS Masters Championships. As only the second Section Champion in Pitman High history, Velasquez is a favored to break into the top three of his bracket as he tries to best last year's fourth place finish at the State Tournament.
Gilbert Valadez – 145 pounds
Valadez enters Bakersfield today with a 40-9 record on the season. The Pride senior is the reigning CCC champion and qualified for state with a fourth place finish at the SJS Masters Championships. With second place finishes at the California Coast Classic, Mid Cals and the Jim Root Classic and a third place finish at the SJS D1AA Championships, Valadez is a wrestler to look for in the 145-pound bracket.