Justin Mejia’s quest to become the second four-time state champion in California high school wrestling history received a meat-grinder of a tuneup.
The Clovis High senior, ranked No. 1 in the state and No. 4 in the nation, beat the state’s No. 2 and No. 3 wrestlers on his way to winning the 126-pound bracket Saturday during the Central Section Masters, which also featured team champion Buchanan advancing all 14 of its wrestlers to the state meet and Mejia’s Clovis teammate Seth Nevills extending an undefeated prep career.
In all, 140 section wrestlers qualified for the CIF State Championships, set for Friday and Saturday at Bakersfield’s Rabobank Arena.
The marquee attraction will be Mejia, who looks to join Bakersfield’s Darrell Vasquez as the only four-time state champions of a meet that began in 1973. Mejia won titles at 106 pounds as a freshman, 113 as a sophomore and 120 last season as a junior.
“It would be amazing to go out there and win my fourth straight title,” Mejia said. “I’m trying not to let it get to me too much, just trying to take it one match at a time. I know it’s going to be tough, but you know, you can’t stop destiny.”
It would be amazing to go out there and win my fourth straight title. I’m trying not to let it get to me too much, just trying to take it one match at a time. I know it’s going to be tough, but you know, you can’t stop destiny.
Clovis 126-pounder Justin Mejia, who will try to become the second four-time champion in the 45-year historry of the CIF State Wrestling Championships on Friday and Saturday at Bakersfield’s Rabobank Arena.
Illinois-bound Mejia beat state No. 3, national No. 19 and Fresno State recruit Robert Garcia IV of Selma 3-2 in the final, surviving two late stalling penalties after opening a 3-0 lead in the second period.
Mejia was in an even tougher battle with Dinuba’s state No. 2 and national No. 9 Isaiah Perez in the semifinals, losing a 3-0 lead in the third period before scoring a riding point in triple overtime for a 4-3 victory.
Mejia is now 33-0 on the season and 163-1 in his career without a loss to California opposition. Vazquez was 201-7 in a career that stretched from 1999-2002.
“I think I’m on the right path. I had a couple tough matches today here,” said Mejia, the tournament’s outstanding lower weight. “I wasn’t feeling my best, but you know I’ve got to beat the best guys on my worst day to be the best. I still wrestled tough. Still things to do, just sharpening up my tools and getting ready for next weekend.”
Defending state team champion Buchanan crowned a Masters-best five champions in Matt Olguin, Ethan Leake, Joel Romero, Anthony Montalvo and Cade Belshay while rolling to 285.5 points. The Bears also qualified Josh Poore (fourth at 106), Tyler Deen (fourth at 126), Wyatt Peverill (fifth at 132), Brett Villarreal (second at 138), Tristan Zamilpa (third at 145), Chris Gaxiola (sixth at 152), Jake Levatino (fourth at 170), Trevor Ervin (third at 195) and Isaih Ortiz (fifth at 285) as they look to capture the third state team title in school history.
“It looks good so far, but you don’t want to count chickens seven days away,” Buchanan coach Troy Tirapelle said. “I’m pretty pleased. We feel like we’re at the spot we want to be at at this time of year. I think our expectations are always through the roof once you see the kids and what they put into it.”
Olguin, the reigning state 106-pound champ who is ranked No. 1 in the state and No. 2 nationally, edged Clovis North’s state No. 4 Devin Murphy 3-0 in the 113-pound final.
State No. 1 and national No. 15 Leake, a reigning state champ at 113, scored a 12-2 major decision over Clovis’ Wyatt Cornelison at 113.
“It’s not exactly the way I wanted to win,” Leake said. “I felt like there were a couple of things I could have improved on. I’ve just got to fix it up and be ready for state and all the competition down in Bakersfield.”
State No. 2 Romero edged No. 1 Brandon Martino of Clovis 5-4 at 160 in one of three state No. 1-vs.-No. 2 matchups during the Masters.
“It feels great, to be honest. He beat me two weeks in a row, so getting back at him felt great,” said Romero, the tournament’s outstanding upper weight. “Going into next weekend, I feel confident in winning it. I know I’m going to win it.”
State No. 1 Montalvo beat Bakersfield’s No. 3 Sam Loera by an 8-0 major decision at 182 and state No. 1 and national No. 20 Belshay downed state No. 8 John Halajian of Clovis North 10-4 at 220.
Clovis finished second with 232.5 points and qualified 12 wrestlers to state, including Masters champions Nevills and Victor Vargas.
State No. 1 and national No. 2 Nevills improved to 32-0 on the season (all by fall) and 122-0 in his three-season career by pinning Clovis North’s state No. 9 Nathaniel Holloway in the 285-pound final. Nevills is a two-time state champion, winning at 220 as a freshman and 285 last season.
Nevills will be looking to equal older brother Nick, who is now at Penn State, as a three-time state champ next weekend.
“I’m just going to go out there and wrestle my best and hopefully win it,” Nevills said. “This is one more toward my goal.”
State No. 3 Vargas topped Selma’s No. 7 Christian Rodriguez 3-2 for the 170-pound title.
It looks good so far, but you don’t want to count chickens seven days away. I’m pretty pleased. We feel like we’re at the spot we want to be at at this time of year.
Buchanan wrestling coach Troy Tirapelle, whose team qualified all 14 individuals as it pursues a second straight CIF State Wrestling Championships team title.
Also capturing Masters titles were Frontier’s Cole Reyes (106), Clovis North’s Chris Deloza (132), Mission Oak’s Jaden Enriquez (138), Bakersfield’s Navonte Demison (145), Selma’s Jace Luchau (152) and Clovis West’s Ryan Reyes (195).
Deloza, ranked No. 4 in the state, upset top-ranked Gary Joint of Lemoore in the finals for the second straight weekend, winning by 10-2 major decision after winning 9-7 at Yosemite Divisionals on Feb. 18.
State No. 2 Enriquez reversed the result from last weekend’s finals with a 3-2 sudden victory over Buchanan’s Brett Villarreal, who had beaten Enriquez 4-3 at Divisionals to assume the state’s No. 1 ranking.
State No. 8 Luchau and No. 3 Reyes each won their first section titles, with Luchau beating Frontier’s No. 6 Jonathan Garcia 8-6 and Reyes topping Clovis’ No. 10 Ruger Wyneken 5-2 in the finals.
CENTRAL SECTION MASTERS
106: Cole Reyes, Frontier, d. Giano Petrucelli, Clovis, 7-5
113: Matthew Olguin, Buchanan, d. Devin Murphy, Clovis North, 3-0
120: Ethan Leake, Buchanan, maj. d. Wyatt Cornelison, Clovis, 12-2
126: Justin Mejia, Clovis, d. Robert Garcia, Selma, 3-2
132: Chris Deloza, Clovis North, maj. d. Gary Joint, Lemoore, 10-2
138: Jaden Enriquez, Mission Oak, d. Brett Villarreal, Buchanan, 3-2 SV
145: Navonte Demison, Bakersfield, d. Jacob Wright, Dinuba, forfeit
152: Jace Luchau, Selma, d. Jonathan Garcia, Frontier, 8-6 SV
160: Joel Romero, Buchanan, d. Brandon Martino, Clovis, 5-4
170: Victor Vargas, Clovis, d. Christian Rodriguez, Selma, 3-2
182: Anthony Montalvo, Buchanan, maj. d. Sam Loera, Bakersfield, 8-0
195: Ryan Reyes, Clovis West, d. Ruger Wyneken, Clovis, 5-2
220: Cade Belshay, Buchanan, d. John Halajian, Clovis North, 10-4
285: Seth Nevills, Clovis, p. Nathaniel Holloway, Clovis North, 1:47
Team: Buchanan 285.5, Clovis 232.5, Selma 158.5, Bakersfield 143, Clovis North 127, Frontier 119.5, Dinuba 84, Lemoore 65.5, Hanford 64.5, Madera 53, Clovis West 46, Central 39, Madera South 38, Bullard 30, Porterville 30, Mission Oak 26, Coalinga 20, Firebaugh 20, Monache 19, Liberty-Bakeresfield 16.5, Kingsburg 16, Sanger 15.5, Exeter 15, Foothill 14.5, Garces 12, Bakersfield Christian 11, Stockdale 9, Reedley 8, Dos Palos 7.5, West 7, Clovis East 7, Tulare 7.
Top 10 advance to state, except 106, where the 11th-place finisher advances.
106: 3. Tristin Lujan, Selma; 4. Josh Poore, Buchanan; 5. Lorenzo Arreola, Dinuba; 6. Forfeit; 7. Brian Benevidez, Porterville; 8. Thomas Terrence, Clovis East; 9. Gabriel Reyes, Hanford; 10. Joe Morales, Exeter; 11. Ruben Jimenez, Foothill
113: 3. Brandon Paulson, Clov; 4. Mateo Sanchez, Central; 5. Gurjot Dhanda, Din; 6. Anthony Pacheco, Sang; 7. Mario Moreno, Mad; 8. Erik Olea, Ex; 9. Elijah Navarro, Bak; 10. Jose Landin, Wasc
120: 3. Ryan Morphis, Fron; 4. Eric Rivera, CN; 5. Andrew Bloemhof, Bak; 6. Mikey Ortega, Bull; 7. Marcus Hutcherson, West; 8. Paul Bustos, Mad; 9. Jared Callison, Mon; 10. Tony Perez, Shaf
126: 3. Izzak Olejnik, Bak; 4. Tyler Deen, Buch; 5. Dawson Sihavong, Bull; 6. Isaiah Perez, Din; 7. Anthony Chavez, Central; 8. Rocky Beckett, CN; 9. Brock Rogers, Corc; 10. Garrett Fletcher, Fron.
132: 3. Elijah Ozuna, Fron; 4. Ronnie Reyes, Han; 5. Wyatt Peverill, Buch; 6. Luis Ramos, Selm; 7. Adrian Gonzalez, Bak; 8. Isack Espana, CW; 9. Abraham Del Toro, Mad; 10. Anselmo Arellano, Wasc
138: 3. JJ Figueroa, Bak; 4. Tony Mendoza, Selm; 5. Moses Contreras, Mad; 6. Lupe Ayon, Ex; 7. Marco Hernandez, Fron; 8. Joe Romero, Lem; 9. Niko Petrucelli, CN; 10. Noah Cortez, Din
145: 3. Tristan Zamilpa, Buch; 4. Jonathan Ramos, Selm; 5. Beau Bradley, Mon; 6. Trent Tracy, Fron; 7. Mikelli Chiaramonte, Clov; 8. Greg Guzman, Lem; 9. Jose Cardoso, Han; 10. Julian Beltran, Bull
152: 3. Tyler Gianakopulos, Clov; 4. Josh McMillon, Mad; 5. Dillon Cravens, Bak; 6. Chris Gaxiola, Buch; 7. Augustine Garcia, MS; 8. Daniel Long, Din; 9. Daniel Badilla, Reed; 10. RJ De La Rosa, Foot
160: 3. Ricky Gonzalez, Bak; 4. Oscar Diaz, Selm; 5. Adrian Zendejas, Port; 6. Arturo Rivas, Fire; 7. Max Aguirre, Fron; 8. Mark Cardwell, Mon; 9. Chance Benadum, DP, 10. Jorge Gonzalez, Mad
170: 3. Jeremy Maas, Lib; 4. Jake Levatino, Buch; 5. Dylan Miracle, MS; 6. Joey Sandoval, Port; 7. Isaiah Corona, Han; 8. Chris Cantoriano, CW; 9. Bo Jackson, King; 10. Fabian Maldonado, Av
182: 3. Angel Solis, Lem; 4. Jacob Good, Clov; 5. Willem DeBoer, Fron; 6. Isaiah Martin, Garc; 7. Nick Maiden, STock; 8. Richard Gonzalez, Tranq; 9. Trent Lindsey, CN; 10. Andrew Azua, Sang
195: 3. Trevor Ervin, Buch; 4. Isaiah Jimenez, Selm; 5. Nathan Chavez, MS; 6. Mark Halajian, CN; 7. Adrian Godinez, Foot; 8. Chris Velez, RFK; 9. Kwabena Watson, Ed; 10. Jacob Gonzalves, Lem
220: 3. Kobe Rosas, Coal; 4. Tony Serna, Din; 5. Hunter Parks, Han; 6. Nicholas Echeveste, Fire; 7. Ty Muxlow, King; 8. Joey Jaramillo, Clov; 9. Jasman Sandhu, Bull; 10. Ricardo Garcia, High
HWT: 3. Aramando Barcenos, Han; 4. Noah Wright, Lem; 5. Isaiah Ortiz, Buch; 6. Brian Wendt, TU; 7. Brett Schuler, BCHS; 8. Xavier Moran, King; 9. Matt Johnston, Chow; 10. Patrick Slatic, Bullard