Eric Morris is ranked No. 1 at 182 pounds (Photo/Tony Rotundo, WrestlersAreWarriors.com)
Over the next two days (Friday and Saturday), virtually all of the best wrestlers from California will assemble at Clovis High School for the Doc Buchanan Invitational. When combined with elite out of state teams such as Roseburg, Ore. and No. 2 Wyoming Seminary, Pa., you get a field arguably tougher than the single-class California state tournament. The traveling Blue Knights from Pennsylvania are obviously the favorites to take home the title, but another trio of nationally ranked teams is in the field: No. 15 Clovis, Calif., No. 19 Poway, Calif., and No. 45 Bakersfield, Calif.
Anchoring the tournament from an individual perspective are all nine returning California state finalists, including the five returning state champions, as well as 25 wrestlers that are nationally ranked. Arguably the featured weight of the Doc Buchanan Invitational is at 170 pounds, where four wrestlers are nationally ranked and six have appeared on the podium at their state tournament.
Those include state placers in No. 9 Peter Santos (Oakmont, Calif.), No. 13 Corey Griego (Sultana, Calif.), No. 17 Steve Cervantes (Poway, Calif.), and Ray Lomas (Central Catholic, Calif.) along with two-time state placers in No. 15 Keaton Subjeck (Oak Ridge, Calif.) and Nicky Hall (Wyoming Seminary, Pa.). Santos was a FloNationals placer last spring and Subjeck placed at the Super 32 Challenge in October. In major competitions during this regular season, Santos, Griego, Subjeck, and Hall were placers at the Ironman while Cervantes finished second at the Reno Tournament of Champions.
Another trio of weight classes features three nationally ranked wrestlers: 132, 152, and 220.
Leading the way at 132 pounds is freshman sensation Aaron Pico (St. John Bosco, Calif.), who is ranked first in the nation at the weight class and already a two-time Cadet National double champion. Joining him as ranked wrestlers in this weight class are No. 8 Ali Naser (El Camino Real, Calif.), a 2011 state placer, and No. 11 Javier Gasca (Kingsburg, Calif.), who was third at state last year and a FloNationals runner-up. Also present in this weight is returning state placer Victor Trujillo (Bella Vista, Calif.).
The 152-pound weight class is led by two-time state placer Shayne Tucker (Bella Vista, Calif.), who finished third at this year's Ironman and won the Reno Tournament of Champions. Tucker is ranked No. 9 nationally and also is a two-time Super 32 Challenge placer. Joining him here are No. 15 (at 160) Kyle Perreault (Clovis East, Calif.) and No. 20 Reed Van Anrooy (Roseburg, Ore.). Perreault placed seventh at state last year and was a NHSCA Junior national champion, while Van Anrooy is a three-time state champion, winning his first state title last year. Others to watch include two-time state champion Alex Aniciete (Las Vegas, Nev.), state eighth place finishers Luke Wilson (Righetti, Calif.) and Blayne Briceno (Crespi, Calif.), as well as National Prep placer Tyrel White (Wyoming Seminary, Pa.)
Two-time Reno TOC champion Spencer Empey (Reed, Nev.), also a two-time state champion, is ranked No. 4 at 220 pounds. State placer Sean medley (Wasco, Calif.) - who also placed at the FloNationals -- is ranked No. 11 nationally, while Junior National double All-American Garrett Ryan (Wyoming Seminary, Pa.) is No. 15 in the country at 220 pounds.
Four other weight classes feature a pair of nationally ranked wrestlers: 113, 120, 126, and 285.
The 113-pound weight class is led by No. 1 Zahid Valencia (St. John Bosco, Calif.), who has yet to lose a high school match. The sophomore is also the top ranked wrestler in his grade regardless of weight class. Joining Valencia as a nationally ranked wrestler here is freshman Israel Saavedra (Modesto, Calif.), who is ranked No. 14 and has already placed at the FloNationals and Super 32 Challenge. Others to watch here are state placers Isaiah Hokit (Wasco, Calif.) and Julian Gayton (Clovis, Calif.), National Prep runner-up Danny Boychuck (Wyoming Seminary, Pa.), as well as Walsh Ironman placer Sean Williams (Lemoore, Calif.).
Defending state champion Isaiah Locsin (Live Oak, Calif.) is a two-time state finalist and ranked No. 10 nationally at 120 pounds. He is joined in the rankings by two-time state placer Mason Pengilly (Porterville, Calif.), who is ranked No. 13 nationally and in the last off-season was a FloNationals runner-up and Junior National freestyle All-American. Others in this weight class include two-time state placer Arulfo Olea (Exeter, Calif.) and 2011 Super 32 placer Jeremy Schwartz (Wyoming Seminary, Pa.).
Two-time state placer, and two-time FloNationals placer, Emilio Saavedra (Modesto, Calif.) is the highest ranked wrestler in the 126-pound weight class at No. 10 in the country. Joining him as a ranked wrestler is No. 18 Judson Preskitt (Wyoming Seminary, Pa.), the Ironman runner-up who has placed twice at National Preps. Others to watch include two-time state placer Jonas Gayton (Clovis, Calif.), a state runner-up last year, 2010 state placer Vincent Gomez (Bakersfield Frontier), and Reno TOC champion Michael Knoblauch (Clovis West, Calif.).
At 285 pounds, it is a showdown between two of the nation's four best underclass wrestlers in the weight classification with No. 3 Nick Nevills (Clovis, Calif.) and No. 9 Michael Johnson, Jr. (Wyoming Seminary, Pa.) present. Nevills won state as a freshman before finishing third last year, while Johnson was a runner-up at National Preps during his freshman campaign last year.
The 160 and 182-pound weight classes are anchored by a nationally elite wrestler. At 160 pounds, it is a shallow weight class led by No. 2 Isaiah Martinez (Lemoore, Calif.). Martinez is a two-time state champion and three-time state placer, as well winning titles at the FloNationals, Junior National Freestyle Championships, and the Super 32 Challenge during the past off-season. Others to note in this weight are Cadet Greco-Roman runner-up Nick Fiegner (Folsom, Calif.) and freshmen sensation Chris Weiler (Wyoming Seminary, Pa.), already a Cadet double All-American and Walsh Ironman placer.
No. 1 Eric Morris (Wyoming Seminary, Pa.) leads the way at 182 pounds, where three other state placers are also present. Kyle Pope (Bakersfield, Calif.) was a state runner-up last year, Adrian Salas (Clovis, Calif.) finished fourth this past season and is a two-time state placer, while Trevor Smith (Ripon, Calif.) placed sixth at state.
Other nationally ranked wrestlers in the tournament are No. 18 Tirso Lara (Poway, Calif.) at 106 pounds, No. 14 Anthony Valencia (St. John Bosco, Calif.) at 138. Lara, champion at the Reno TOC, leads a weight class that also features returning state placer Adrian Camposano (Central, Calif.) as well as three Fargo All-Americans in Juan Jimenez (Porterville, Calif.), Sean Nickell (Bakersfield, Calif.), and Perez Perez (Windsor, Calif.).
Defending state champion Anthony Valencia, also a FloNationals and Cadet freestyle champion, is in a weight class with three other notable wrestlers: two-time state placer and returning finalist Paul Fox (Gilroy, Calif.), state placer Chris Garcia (Clovis West, Calif.), and state champion Kyle Leet (Palo Verde, Nev.).
Only two weights are without a nationally ranked wrestler, 195 and 145. The 195 weight class is led by Junior Greco-Roman All-American Mason Kumashiro (Los Alamitos, Calif.) and National Prep placer Matt Doggett (Wyoming Seminary, Pa.).
Even though the 145 weight does not feature a nationally ranked wrestler, there is quality depth present, led by state champion Nikko Villarreal (Gilroy, Calif.) and two-time state placers in Coleman Hammond (Bakersfield, Calif.) and Victor Lopez (Poway, Calif.). Additional wrestlers meriting attention are state placer Jason Ladd (Clovis, Calif.) and New England regional placer Jake Savoca (Wyoming Seminary, Pa.).