Mission Oak High’s Jaden Enriquez knew the decision to shut down his junior season because of an elbow injury two weeks before the CIF State Wrestling Championships was the correct one.
It just wasn’t easy to stomach for the Hawks’ standout who had finished second in the state at 132 pounds as a sophomore and was ranked second at 138 pounds as a junior at the time of the injury, which happened in the semifinals of the Yosemite Divisionals.
It cost Enriquez a shot chasing his first state title and earning his third state medal overall. But it allowed his elbow time to completely heal, paving the way for him to sign a national letter of intent with Michigan State in November.
“I was like, ‘Wow, is this it?’ after putting in all that time and work,” said Enriquez, who also placed fourth in the state at 132 pounds as a freshman. “It was no one’s fault, just an accident. But it was a tough pill to swallow.
“Now I don’t take anything for granted. I will wrestle like I have no scholarship. I have to prove that I’m still one of the best kids in the nation. That motivates me.”
Now I don’t take anything for granted. I will wrestle like I have no scholarship. I have to prove that I’m still one of the best kids in the nation. That motivates me.
Mission Oak wrestler Jaden Enriquez, who missed last season’s CIF State Championships because of an elbow injury
The nation’s No. 10-ranked 145-pounder by InterMat is set to wrestle for Mission Oak in a high school tournament for the first time since the injury, during the 40th annual Doc Buchanan Invitational, which will draw competitors from 101 schools across five Western states this weekend to Clovis High.
Wrestling begins at 9:30 a.m. Friday, and continues at 9 a.m. Saturday, with semifinals at 10 a.m. and finals at 5 p.m.
Enriquez returned to wrestling, and proved his health, in July at the Junior Nationals in Fargo, N.D., placing sixth at 138 pounds in Greco-Roman.
But Enriquez’s senior season has gotten off to a slow start since coming out from football, where he was listed as a 155-pound running back/linebacker. His only match so far came Dec. 14 when he pinned Redwood’s Tyler Showen in a 160-pound match during a nonleague dual meet.
Despite sitting out several early-season tournaments on Mission Oak’s schedule, including the Chukchansi Invitational, Liberty-Madera Ranchos Rotational Duals and The Bash, Enriquez’s coach and father isn’t worried about rust this weekend.
“He’s been wrestling since he was a 4-year-old, so he knows how to wrestle,” Zenaido Enriquez said. “What we wanted to do is make sure he’s in shape. And now we feel like he is in shape and ready to rock and roll.”
Enriquez had better be ready, as he’s entered in a 145-pound division at the Doc Buchanan that features five of the state’s top eight-ranked wrestlers in the weight class, led by No. 1 and reigning 138-pound state champ Navonte Demison of Bakersfield, who also is ranked No. 4 nationally.
State No. 3 Peyton Omania of De La Salle-Concord, No. 5 Greg Guzman of Lemoore, No. 6 Jack Ramalia of Granite Bay and No. 8 Charles Franchina of Rancho Bernardo-San Diego also are in the 32-man, 145-pound weight bracket.
“I know it’s a tough tournament, but I’m ready for it,” said Enriquez, who is state top-ranked at 138 pounds. “I’m excited to get back out and compete and prove I’m hungry from last year. I’m taking it a little personal. I’m not angry at anyone, but I’m coming for what’s mine.”
He’s been wrestling since he was a 4-year-old, so he knows how to wrestle. What we wanted to do is make sure he’s in shape. And now we feel like he is in shape and ready to rock and roll.
Mission Oak wrestling coach Zenaido Enriquez on his son and Hawks’ senior standout Jaden Enriquez, who will compete in the Doc Buchanan Invitational this weekend, his first high school tournament since an elbow injury cut short his junior season before the CIF State Championships
Enriquez has twice competed at the Doc Buchanan, placing third at 138 last season and winning the 132 bracket in 2015.
This year’s tournament includes six nationally ranked teams (led by No. 2 Buchanan and No. 6 Clovis) and 20 nationally ranked individuals, highlighted by No. 2 Seth Nevills of Clovis at 285 and No. 2 Cohlton Schultz of Ponderosa-Parker, Colo., at 220.
The tournament also features three-time CIF state champion and national No. 4 Justin Mejia of Clovis at 126, as well as reigning California champions in Buchanan’s Matthew Olguin and Ethan Leake, who will compete at 113 and 120 pounds, respectively, this weekend.
HIGH SCHOOL WRESTLING
DOC BUCHANAN INVITATIONAL
- Friday: Wrestling starts at 9:30 a.m., with quarterfinals about 4 p.m.
- Saturday: 9 a.m., with semifinals about 10 a.m., finals at 5 p.m.
- Site: Clovis High
- Tickets: Adults $8 Friday, $7 Saturday; students and children 12 and younger are $5 Friday, $4 Saturday. Finals for all entrants $5.