BAKERSFIELD – State No. 1-ranked wrestlers Isaiah Martinez and Nikko Reyes are steamrolling their way toward individual gold, while Clovis High is locked in a major dogfight as it pursues a record ninth state team title.
Lemoore 140-pounder Martinez and Clovis West 171-pounder Reyes each won all of their matches with bonus points to highlight the first night of the CIF State Wrestling Championships on Friday at Rabobank Arena, where 47 Central Section wrestlers – including 19 semifinalists – are among the 168 still alive for an individual medal.
Clovis, meanwhile, emerged from the first night on top of the team race, but not by much with a 114-112.5 lead over defending state team champion Bakersfield in a front of an announced crowd of 5,841. De La Salle is a distant third with 61.5 points.
"It's still pretty close," said 119-pounder Daniel Gaytan, one of the Cougars' three semifinalists. "But if we keep doing what we're doing, we should be fine."
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There's no doubt Martinez and Reyes are doing fine.
Martinez had three pins and a 17-0 technical fall to advance to today's 10 a.m. semifinals, where he will face De La Salle's fifth-ranked Alex Abono for a spot in the 7:15 p.m. finals.
"There's always room for improvement and I'm always trying to get better, but I feel good about how I performed today," Martinez said. "I try to wrestle dominant in every match, leave no doubt. When you wrestle aggressive, you can catch people on their back. And I try to keep them there."
Reyes had a pin and two major decisions en route to a semifinal matchup with Bakersfield's Silas Nacita, who's ranked 10th in the state.
"I feel unstoppable," Reyes said. "I don't think anyone can take me down. I'm fully healthy, 100%. I'm going to go out tomorrow and do my thing. I just want to completely dominate in every position. I feel like there is no one in my weight class that can mess with me."
Other semifinalists from the Central Section include: Porterville's Mason Pengilly (103), Clovis West's Stevan Knoblauch (119), Selma's Alex Cisneros (125), Clovis North's Vince Rodriguez (125), Bakersfield's Micah Cruz (125) and Selma's Nick Pena (130).
Also, Bakersfield's Timmy Box (135), Porterville's Shane Yacuta (135), Buchanan's Damien Arredondo (145), Bakersfield's Adam Fierro, Bakersfield's Bryce Hammond, Selma's Justin Lozano (171), Clovis' Taylor Ferguson (215) and Clovis' Nick Nevills (285).
Cisneros is seeking his third gold medal after wins at 103 and 112 pounds the past two seasons.
"I feel like I'm at the top of my level right now," Cisneros said. "But right now, I'm not looking at No. 3. I just want No. 1 this year. I don't have anything yet."
Knoblauch, top-ranked at 119, is seeking redemption after missing last year's state meet because of an elbow injury.
"I want to come back and win this," said Knoblauch, a senior who was the 103-pound state runner-up in 2009. "I looked good today. I hope to look better tomorrow."
A year after losing seven of its 12 qualifiers on the opening day, with six going scoreless, Clovis advanced 10 to Day 2 and all 14 won at least one match. The Cougars have seven in the consolation round, where crucial wrestle-back points can be scored.
"The wrestle-backs are huge," said 140-pounder Brady Bersano, one of three Cougars to score bonus points in the consolation round so far. "You've got to get bonus points there. Once [Del Oro-Loomis' Austin Branum] beat me [in the round of 16], I knew I had to come back and get bonus points for the team. A state medal for me would be amazing, but what I want is the team win."
Bakersfield has nine wrestlers left, but four of its five semifinalists are going up against state No. 1s today.