BAKERSFIELD -- Thanks to a sensational two-year run and a 10-year stretch as good as any section in the state, the Central Section has been given two additional automatic qualifiers into the 2011 and 2012 CIF State Wrestling Championships.
The Central Section's bump from seven to nine qualifiers ties it with the much larger Southern Section for most participants per weight division at the next two state meets.
It's the first time a section has been given an additional two qualifiers during the re-evaluation process, which happens every two years.
"The Central Section has had two fantastic years and deserved to be rewarded for it," assistant tournament director Todd Tomazic said.
The Central Section had 33 medalists crowned Saturday at Rabobank Arena; last year, it had a best-ever 37 medalists. Tomazic said the Central Section has averaged 22 medalists over the past 10 years.
The North Coast Section and Central Coast Section each had a qualifier taken away.
Tomazic said no section can have more than a 25% chunk of the field per weight class, which means the Central Section would cap out at 10 if it were to earn an additional spot in the future.
The next wave
The Central Section's next wave of standout wrestlers made their mark in the third- through eighth-place matches.
A freshman and two sophomores were among four section wrestlers to finish third. And overall, 13 of the 21 who finished with a medal have one of more years of eligibility left.
Clovis sophomore Daniel Gaytan earned his second straight state medal by defeating Sultana-Hesperia's Matthew Welch 6-4 for third place at 112 pounds. Gaytan was fourth at 103s last season.
"This was probably my best tournament of the year," Gaytan said. "I'm getting better every year. I'm hoping to get into the finals next year. I've got to work hard."
Lemoore's Isaiah Martinez capped an stellar freshman season with a 12-3 major decision over Gilroy's Jesse Delgado for third place at 125s. Delgado, a state champ at 112s last season, entered the match ranked No. 1 in the state while Martinez was No. 5.
"I wanted first, but there's always next year," said Martinez, who watched Delgado wrestle his way to a title last year from the seats at Rabobank. "It's a lot harder than I thought it would be. It was rough."
Clovis West's Nikko Reyes medaled in his second appearance at the state finals by downing Gilroy's Dominic Kastl 6-3 for third place at 160 pounds. Reyes bettered his No. 6 state ranking with a victory over the top-ranked Kastl, and a come-from-behind 5-4 victory over Selma's second-ranked Justin Lozano in the consolation semifinals.
"This was a great experience," Reyes said. "I wanted to be in the state finals, but, hey, top three is good enough. There's no where to go from here but up."
Other section wrestlers earning medals included: Lemoore's Dillon Rocha (fifth at 103), Frontier's Vincent Gomez (sixth at 103), Bakersfield's Ian Nickell (seventh at 103), Clovis East's Connor Larson (eighth at 125), Porterville's Shane Yacuta (fourth at 130), Bakersfield's Natrelle Demison (fifth at 130), Buchanan's Damien Arredondo (sixth at 130), Sanger's A.J. Valles (seventh at 130), Clovis East's Moses Quezada (fifth at 135), Foothill's Derik Rizo (third at 145), Bakersfield's Coleman Hammond (fourth at 145), Selma's Lozano (fifth at 160), Lemoore's Jacob Pendleton (sixth at 160), Buchanan's Martin Fabbian (fifth at 171), Central's Rodolfo Juarez (seventh at 189), Bakersfield's Brian Schoene (third at 215), Cesar Chavez's Noel Gomez (sixth at 215) and Kingsburg's Nick Corona (seventh at 215).