State top-ranked 126-pounder Gary Joint admitted that rebounding from his semifinal loss at the 44th CIF State Wrestling Championships wasn’t easy.
But the Lemoore High School junior wasn’t about to mail it in in the consolation final.
So the transfer from Junction City, Kan., jumped ahead of Buchanan’s Brett Villarreal and held on for a 3-2 victory in the third-place match Saturday at Rabobank Arena.
Joint dropped a 3-2 decision to state No. 8-ranked Donovin Guerrero of De La Salle-Concord in the semifinals.
“It’s not what I wanted, but I had to come through and finish the best I could,” said Joint, who also beat Villarreal in the Masters finals Feb. 27. “It was hard. Getting back into the mix mentally was the toughest thing after losing as the No. 1 in the state, but I had to show my pride and heart.”
Joint earned his third overall state championship medal after placing second the past two seasons in Kansas’ 6A/5A divisions at 126 and 106 pounds.
Joint was one of 20 consolation medalists and 35 medalists overall produced by the Central Section, which qualified 10 wrestlers into each of the 14 weight classes, or 25 percent of the 560-competitor field. The section accounted for 31 percent of the medalists.
Also earning bronze medals were Clovis North’s Eric Rivera (106), Selma’s Robert Garcia (120), Buchanan’s Joel Romero (138), Clovis’ Tyler Collier (220) and Frontier’s Jarrod Snyder (285).
Rivera became Clovis North’s first freshman to finish in the top three at state. He edged Clovis’ Brandon Betancourt 6-5 in the consolation final.
“It feels awesome,” Rivera said. “I’ve never accomplished a goal like this.”
Garcia became a three-time state medalist by beating Central Sequoia League rival Isaiah Perez of Dinuba 3-1 in their fourth meeting in as many weeks for third place.
Perez, who placed sixth at 106 last season to become Dinuba’s first medalist, won at the CSL and Masters meets; Garcia won at the Sierra/Sequoia Divisionals and in the match that mattered most.
“It’s not what I wanted, but I’ll take it,” said Garcia, a junior who was the state runner-up at 113 in 2014 and seventh at 120 last season. “I knew I had to get that last takedown and win this match.”
Clovis West was one of five section teams to produce multiple medalists, as Bobby Miguel finished fifth at 138 and freshman Ryan Reyes placed seventh at 170. Bakersfield, Buchanan, Clovis and Dinuba also had multiple medalists.
Miguel, a senior, had failed to place in two previous trips to state. Reyes is the younger brother of former Golden Eagles two-time state champion Nikko Reyes.
Earning second career state medals were Buchanan’s Greg Gaxiola (fourth at 145 after finishing seventh at 132 last season), Bakersfield’s Sam Loera (seventh at 160 two years running) and Frontier’s Jarrod Snyder (third at 285 after finishing fourth in that weight class last year).
EARNING A MEDAL
Central Section wrestlers who earned medals in the consolation rounds at the CIF State Championships on Saturday at Rabobank Arena in Bakersfield:
- 106: 3rd, Eric Rivera, Clovis North; 4th, Brandon Betancourt, Clovis; 5th, Izzak Olejnik, Bakersfield; 8th, Josh Cisneros, Selma
- 113: 8th, Wyatt Cornelison, Clovis
- 120: 3rd, Robert Garcia, Selma; 4th, Isaiah Perez, Dinuba
- 126: 3rd, Gary Joint, Lemoore; 4th, Brett Villarreal, Buchanan
- 132: 8th, Tony Mendoza, Selma
- 138: 3rd, Joel Romero, Buchanan; 5th, Bobby Miguel, Clovis West
- 145: 4th, Greg Gaxiola, Buchanan
- 152: 5th, Brandon Martino, Clovis
- 160: 7th, Sam Loera, Bakersfield
- 170: 5th, Cade Belshay, Buchanan; 7th, Ryan Reyes, Clovis
- 195: 3rd, Adrian Godinez, Foothill
- 220: 3rd, Tyler Collier, Clovis
- 285: 3rd, Jarrod Snyder, Frontier