Fresno City College won its fourth straight California CC state title (Photo/John Sachs, Tech-Fall.com)
In many ways, this was the wildest state meet to my memory on an individual basis. But the team race, was one of familiarity. When all the smoke cleared, Fresno City College won a record fourth consecutive state championship, and it's 17th in the 62-year history of the California Community College State Championship. Fresno was there from the start in 1959, tying San Bernardino College for the title.
The Rams dominated the competition, from the first whistle to the last match. With 10 of their 12 qualifiers making it to the semifinals and seven getting into the finals, there was no doubt who the top dog in California was again this year. Fresno City finished with 11 medalists, 9 All-Americans including 4 Champions when all the dust settled. The final team score of 186 points was just one shy of their own record set at the 2018 State Championships.
The Cerritos College Falcons, ranked No. 2 most of the season, conceded nothing, and were clearly the second-best team this season. Qualifying 11 athletes to the state meet, Cerritos made every one of them count. All 11 medaled, including five All-Americans and two champions.
The biggest team fight was for third place. Sacramento City College came into the tournament ranked fifth and ended day one in third place. Day 2 saw them hanging onto the spot, but others scratching and clawing their way toward the final trophy place. After the medal round and going into the finals, the Panthers held a one-point lead over third-ranked Bakersfield for the spot. It came down to the finals at 174 pounds where Sacramento's No. 2 ranked Chase Miles met Bakersfield's No. 3 ranked Jonathan Hunter. The winner would clinch third place for the team. Hunter, in dominating fashion took the lead, then pinned Miles in the second period to help lead the Renegades to third place, the same as their rankings. SCC finished in fourth place.
Individual races were quite a mix this year. Your ranking coming in played no role in the outcome of a match. Lower ranked and unranked wrestlers came to the tournament determined to make you wrestle to the end of each match. In total, four No. 1 ranked wrestlers lost in the first two rounds. Five No. 2 ranked wrestlers suffered the same fate.
Below is a breakdown by weight.
125: This saw the meeting of the No. 1 and No. 2 ranked wrestlers in the state reach the finals. Number 1 ranked Mario Moreno of Fresno City had won three tournaments this season while No. 2 Jonathan Prata of Cerritos had won two tournaments. In the recent State Dual Championships, Moreno edged Prata by a score of 5-2. This was a low scoring final with lots of action. In the end, Prata pulled off the upset with a 3-2 victory, the third point coming from riding time. Fresno City's Ramiro Castillo took fifth in this weight to give Fresno two medalists. His first loss came to teammate Moreno in the semifinal.
133: This weight was the wildest of all. When it came down to it all, two wrestlers, one unranked at the weight and the other was an honorable mention at 141 before the postseason, met in the finals. Kahlil Tucker of Rio Hondo came in unranked while Houston Scibek of Modesto came in an HM at 141 while also competing in matches at 125 and 133 on the year. In a wild match going back and forth, Tucker held on for a 7-6 victory. Scibek had been second in two tournaments this year and finished fourth in the North Region, while Tucker's only tournament placing was second in the south region. Again, riding time played the factor as Tucker scored a third period reversal and ride out for the win. Stefano McKinney of Cerritos finished third and was another HM at 141 before the post season began. He had lost in the quarters to yet another HM wrestler, Sacramento City's Cole Kachmar who ended up finishing in sixth place. McKinney's teammate, Andres Gonzalez finished in seventh and was defeated by McKinney in the conso-quarters.
141: Another crazy weight as far as seeds go saw seventh ranked Christian Espinoza of Rio Hondo meet eighth ranked Isaiah Mora of Cerritos. Before the postseason, neither wrestler had been in the finals of a tournament. This was a great tournament to get it done in. Mora was 1st in the South region while Espinoza was third in the same region. Mora knocked off No. 2 ranked Anthony Chavez of Fresno in the semi. This may not seem a surprise as he defeated Chavez in the State Dual meet as well. Espinoza knocked off No. 1 ranked Raul Ortiz of Sacramento City in the quarters. It was Ortiz's first loss to a CCC wrestler this season. Mora and Espinoza put on an offensive show, going back and forth for 3 rounds with Mora finally getting ahead by three and holding onto a 10-7 win and the championship.
149: This weight saw two Fresno City wrestlers make the finals as was expected. Daniel Ruiz and Chris Gaxiola have been ranked No. 1 and No. 2 respectively since the first tournament of the season. They have finished in the finals of five tournaments throughout the season. They only wrestled that final once when Ruiz edged Gaxiola by a 4-3 score. Add to it that Ruiz is the defending champion at the weight makes it an even more interesting matchup. This final had the components of two talented wrestlers who practice with each other on a daily basis, and as could be expected a low scoring event as they countered each other over and over. Ruiz did score a takedown in the match and held on to a 3-2 victory and his second State Championship.
157: This was a battle of the No. 2 and No. 3 ranked wrestlers in the finals. In an unusual twist, the No. 2 ranked Josh McMillan of Fresno City, who finished third in the North Region, met No. 1 ranked Larry Rodriguez of Cerritos in the quarters. Rodriguez had defeated McMillan by a 11-5 score in the State Dual meet. This match belonged to McMillan as he defeated Rodriguez 4-1 and avenge the earlier loss. No. 3 ranked William Schwertscharf of Modesto finished fourth in the North Region, losing to McMillan. He took down the North Region No. 1, Hunter LaRue of Sacramento City with a last second takedown to reach the final. After all that drama, McMillan systematically built on his lead after gaining the first takedown in round one, and scored the last takedown in the third round to win by an 8-3 score. East Los Angeles wrestlers Emmanuel Zepeda and Doroteo Lopez finished fifth and seventh respectively to get two medalists at this weight.
165: This weight saw another battle of No. 1 vs No. 2. Defending champion and No. 1 ranked Augustine Garcia of Fresno City met No. 2 ranked Jacob Hansen of Moorpark. These two never met this season and everyone was anticipating a great match up. It took a bit of time, but Hansen scored first blood with a TD in the first period. Hansen controlled the match throughout getting another takedown and riding time to defeat Garcia by a score of 7-2. This is another weight where two wrestlers from one team medaled. This time it was Sacramento City. Manny Curry finished in sixth place while Alex Thornburg placed in eighth for the Panthers.
174: This weight saw No. 2 Chase Miles of Sacramento City meet No. 3 Jonathan Hunter of Bakersfield. The winner of this match would help their team take home the third place team trophy. Hunter jumped out to the lead, then hooked up a nearside cradle and a fall to win the Championship at the weight and get Bakersfield the third-place team trophy. Once again, two wrestlers from one team got on the podium. This time it was Mt. San Antonio College. Kevin Hope finished in fourth place while Kevin Ayala took home sixth place.
184: In this match-up, No. 1 Stephen Martin of Skyline met No. 4 Jordan Annis of Bakersfield. Annis had a rough region finishing in fourth place. He knocked off No. 2 Russell Rucklos of Lassen in the quarters and the South Region champ, Joey Conroy of Palomar to reach the finals. Martin won by scores of 6-0 and 6-1 in reaching the finals. Martin's solid offense and even better defense did the trick in shutting out Annis by a score of 7-0. He gave up only one point in three matches on the way to his championship.
197: The battle of No. 1 Jack Kilner of Fresno City and No. 3 Hamza Al Saudi of Cerritos was a defensive battle. They met a few weeks ago with Kilner winning by a 9-0 score at the State Dual championships. No one could score in the first period and Kilner scored an escape in the second period to make it 1-0 going into the third period. Al Saudi chose neutral in the third period in hopes of scoring a TD and stealing a win. With about 10 seconds left, he got in on a shot and was awarded a TD. With a ride out, it appeared he had pulled off the upset. Fresno City coaches appealed the call and it was overturned. Ten seconds of bad time was put on the clock, but on one could score in the time allotted and Kilner survived with a 1-0 victory and the Championship.
285: In the final match of the night, Fresno City's No. 1 ranked Armando Barcenas met unranked but South Region champ, Enrique Galica of Palomar. Barcenas was holding on to a one-point lead late in the match when Galica took a shot and just missed scoring. As time was running down, Galica took another shot but this time was countered by Barcenas for a takedown and a Championship win by a score of 5-2. Sierra College had two medalists in this weight getting a fourth-place finish from Victor Yakshin and a seventh-place finish from Alex Mosquada.
Coach of the Year: Paul Keysaw, Fresno City College
Assistant Coach of the Year: George Moreno, Fresno City College
Outstanding Wrestler of the Year: Jacob Hansen (Moorpark)
Final Team Standings
1. Fresno City College 186
2. Cerritos College 137
3. Bakersfield College 77
4. Sacramento City College 72
5. Sierra College 70.5
6. Mt San Antonio College 65
7. Modesto Jr. College 59
8. Lassen Community College 53
9. Rio Hondo College 48
10. East Los Angeles College 41
11. Santa Rosa Jr. College 34
12. West Hills College 33.5
13. Palomar College 30.5
14. Moorpark College 29.5
15. Cuesta College 23.5
16. Skyline College 19
17. San Joaquin Delta College 17
18. Chabot College 11.5
19. Victor Valley College 10
20. Santa Ana College 8.5
21. Shasta College 0