Selma High’s Tony Mendoza had no sooner come off the mat after earning a third-place medal at the CIF State Wrestling Championships before be began looking to next season.
“Now we know we can keep up with these guys,” Mendoza said. “Next year, the plan is to be state champs. It’s what we what.”
Mendoza beat Vacaville’s Lawrence Saenz 7-1 for the bronze medal at 138 pounds – among the 42 medals produced by Central Section wrestlers during the 45th annual meet – to help Selma finish fourth with 108 points at Rabobank Arena.
Selma entered the meet ranked 10th in the state by The California Wrestler. Buchanan won the title for the second straight year with 213.5 points.
Mendoza was one of Selma’s four medalists among nine qualifiers. All are expected to be back next season except 126-pounder Robert Garcia IV, who lost to Clovis’ Justin Mejia 3-2 in the 126-pound final.
Mendoza dropped out of gold-medal contention with a 6-2 quarterfinals loss to Mission Oak’s Jaden Enriquez. “I knew I had to come all the way back,” Mendoza said. “Ending my season with a win feels great.”
Next year, the plan is to be state champs.
Selma’s 138-pound bronze medalist Tony Mendoza, one of eight Bears state meet qualifiers set to return next season
The Bears also had medalists in Christian Rodriguez, who was fifth at 170, and Oscar Diaz, who was seventh at 160.
“Placing at the state meet as a sophomore, I didn’t think it would happen until I was a junior or senior,” said Rodriguez, who edged Clovis’ Victor Vargas 3-2 in overtime for a state medal after going 0-2 at this tournament last season. “It means everything to me, this is amazing.”
Dinuba places 14th
Fellow Central Sequoia League school Dinuba cracked the top 15 for the first time in school history, finishing 14th with 74 points behind fourth-place finishes from Isaiah Perez at 126 and Jacob Wright at 145.
Each entered the meet ranked second in the state, but lost in the semifinals and in the third-place match.
Wright was a state finalist last season, losing to Bakersfield’s Navonte Demison at 138.
“It’s not what I wanted,” said Wright, a Fresno State recruit. “I came here for first. I just didn’t wrestle like I was supposed to. I didn’t get on my offense, and that’s on me. But this is in the past now and I’m focused on college.”
Clovis North jumps up
Another school turning in its best-ever performance at the state meet was Clovis North, which finished 11th with 78.5 points behind medalists Devin Murphy (fourth at 113), Chris Deloza (fourth at 132) and John Halajian (seventh at 220).
Halajian, a senior, earned his first medal in three trips to the state meet by pinning Los Alamitos’ Ethan Bakker at the 4:59 mark of his final match.
“We were working hard the last two years and we really came together as a team this weekend,” Halajian said. “Hopefully people will start paying attention to Clovis North (wrestling) now.”
Central Section consolation medalists
106 pounds: Cole Reyes, Frontier, fourth; Giano Petrucelli, Clovis, sixth
113: Matthew Olguin, Buchanan, third; Devin Murphy, Clovis North, fourth; Brandon Paulson, Clovis, sixth; Anthony Pacheco, Sanger, eighth
120: Ethan Leake , Buchanan, fourth
126: Isaiah Perez, Dinuba, fourth; Dawson Sihavong, Bullard, sixth; Tyler Deen, Buchanan, seventh
132: Chris Deloza, Clovis North, fourth
138: Tony Mendoza, Selma, third; JJ Figueroa, Bakersfield, sixth; Joe Romero, Lemoore, eighth
145: Jacob Wright, Dinuba, fourth
152: Jonathan Garcia, Frontier, seventh
160: Ricky Gonzalez, Bakersfield, sixth; Oscar Diaz, Selma, seventh
170: Christian Rodriguez, Selma, fifth; Victor Vargas, Clovis, sixth
182: Sam Loera, Bakersfield, fourth; Angel Solis, Lemoore, sixth; Willem Deboer, Frontier, eighth
195: Ryan Reyes, Clovis West, third; Trevor Ervin, Buchanan; sixth; Ruger Wyneken, Clovis, seventh; Adrian Godinez, Foothill, eighth
220: John Halajian, Clovis North, seventh
285: Noah Wright, Lemoore, fourth; Isaiah Ortiz, Buchanan, seventh