2011 Wrestling All-Star Team

Selma High's Alex Cisneros is The Bee's Wrestler of the Year.

April 17, 2011 

Selma High's Alex Cisneros is The Bee's Wrestler of the Year for 2011.

JOHN WALKER / THE FRESNO BEE

Class: Junior

Division: 125

He's qualified because: Became one of 16 three-time champions in the 39-year history of the state tournament when he defeated Clovis North's Vince Rodriguez 2-1 in overtime in the final, capping a 45-1 season and upping his career record to 130-2. Next season, he will attempt to join Bakersfield's Darrell Vazquez as the state's only four-time champions.

Also considered: Lemoore's Isaiah Martinez, who capped a 50-0 season by winning the 140-pound state championship, and Clovis West's Nikko Reyes, who went 49-1 en route to winning the 171-pound title.


Following his success at some of the nation's premier youth tournaments, Alex Cisneros was projected for greatness before he stepped foot on a high school wrestling mat.

And he certainly hasn't disappointed during three spectacular seasons at Selma High.

Consider:

  • Cisneros won his third CIF State Championships title May 5 at Bakersfield's Rabobank Arena – becoming the 16th wrestler in the event's 39-year history to do so while wrapping up a junior season that saw him go 45-1 with 15 pins, seven technical falls and six major decisions. He finished as the No. 3-ranked 125-pounder in the nation by Amateur Wrestling News.
  • His 2-1 overtime victory over Clovis North's Vince Rodriguez gave Cisneros a title at a third different weight class, following his 5-0 win against Sanger's Chris Diaz at 112 pounds in 2010 and his 11-1 defeat of Clovis West's Stevan Knoblauch for the 103-pound crown in 2009.
  • Cisneros has put himself in position to join former Bakersfield High standout Darrell Vasquez (1999-2002) as only the second four-time California state champion out of the thousands of wrestlers who have competed in the one-title-per-weight-class event since its inception in 1973.

"His freshman year [winning the title] at 103 was understandable because he was just better than most everyone at that weight," Selma coach Sam Lopez said. "But this year, when you go up to 125s, you are dealing with a lot bigger kids. He had a lot of close matches. Not just Rodriguez, but the kid Ali Naser from El Camino Real and Fabian Garcia from Turlock. But somehow, he found a way.

"A true champion will always find a way to win, no matter if it's not pretty. And this guy always finds a way to win."

All Cisneros has wanted to do since donning Selma's black and orange singlet is win. And that's virtually all The Bee's Wrestler of the Year has done.

Cisneros is 130-2 in three varsity seasons – never losing to a wrestler from California – while gaining confidence from his past success and the work he's put in to get to the top.

"I know I can repeat every year," Cisneros said. "I just have to come back a lot stronger than the year before."

And next season, he will balance the demands of what's sure to be an intense recruiting battle for his college services with the challenge of doing what many in the wrestling community don't want to see happen – Cisneros joining Vasquez as a four-time state champ.

Of the five freshman champions before Cisneros, only Vasquez, Independence-San Jose's Jacob Palomino and Central Catholic-Modesto's Louis Bland went on to reach four state finals. The other two – Cisneros' older brother Joe and Oakdale's Trevor Machado-Ching – reached the finals twice. Joe Cisneros was a three-time medalist for Bakersfield.

"I'm sure a lot of people at the state meet want to see the kid lose, and you can feel that," Lopez said. "I remember watching [Vasquez] and thinking, 'I don't want to see a four-timer.' Now, we're going to be in that situation."

If that bothers Cisneros, he's not letting on.

"I know a lot of people are watching me to see if I'll fail. I try to focus on not letting that happen," Cisneros said. "Whether they are rooting for me, or not, they are there to watch me and I feed off that. I try to put on a show."

The reporter can be reached at nickg@fresnobee.com or (559) 622-2407.

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