Four local wrestlers have qualified for the California Interscholastic Federation state championships on March 4 and 5 in Bakersfield following Saturday’s matches in the Sac-Joaquin Section Masters tournament at Stockton Arena.
Joining three West High wrestlers who qualified on Friday is Tracy High senior Tyler Huckaby, who came up through the consolation bracket on Friday and then won two matches in a row on Saturday to clinch a spot among the top six wrestlers in his weight class.
Top local wrestler this past weekend is West High sophomore Ulysses Juan, who lost his semifinal match on Saturday and then won two in a row to claim third place.
“Going into every match at this tournament I know it’s going to be hard, so I just go as hard as I can,” Juan said, adding that he was confident that he would win his quarterfinal match on Friday and qualify for state. In that match he beat Lathan Liles of Rodriguez 8-4.
“I knew the guy was pretty good, so I just made sure everything with my technique, my speed and my strength was on my game, and I wasn’t going to leave that mat losing. I worked all year for it and I finally got it.”
Huckaby lost his first match of the tournament on Friday and then won five in a row in the consolation bracket, including a 7-4 decision over Roger Baines of Sheldon, to qualify for state. He then lost one and won one to finish in fifth place He said that determination carried him to his goal of making the state championships.
“You’re only a senior once in your lifetime. I’ve been working hard for this, since day one of my freshman year,” he said. “I knew he’d come out tough. He was looking for the same thing I was. That’s what it came down to: Who wanted it more?”
Two other West wrestlers heading to the state championships are seniors Justin Martin Del Campo, his second trip to the state championships after he went during his freshman year, and Kris Merrill. They both qualified on Friday, but lost their semifinal matches on Saturday. Both finished fifth on Saturday.
“This tournament is pretty much a meet-up of all the separate tournaments that I’ve been to. It’s prepared me well for this moment,” Merrill said. Now that he’s met the top wrestlers in the section he’s ready to take the next step next week in Bakersfield.
“It’s the best 64 in the state of California, so it’s going to be a challenge.”
Two other wrestlers who competed on Saturday, Tracy sophomore Albert Landeros and West senior Trevor Manaois, lost their first matches on Saturday and finished just short of the medal rounds.
Top team at the Masters tournament was Oakdale with 197 points. Oakdale will send nine wrestlers to state, including three section gold medalists. Vacaville finished second with a score of 184.5, with eight wrestlers qualifying for state. West was 13th in the team score with 66.5 points.
Saturday’s results included:
Ulysses Juan (103) lost to Gionn Peralta of Vacaville by pin in 3:49 in the semifinal, beat Kevin Tarp of Foothill by pin in 2:58, and beat Lathan Liles of Rodriguez on a 5-1 decision take third place.
Justin Martin Del Campo (112) lost to Garrett Fortado of Oakdale on a 4-0 decision in the semifinal. Fortado went on to take first place. Martin Del Campo then lost to Kasey Klaus of Vacaville on a 15-0 technical pin, and then beat Gabriel Balderas of Ceres on a 17-2 technical pin to place fifth.
Albert Landeros (112) lost to Danny Inong of Elk Grove on a 7-2.
Trevor Manaois (119) lost to Gary Thao of McNair by pin in 3:41.
Tyler Huckaby (189) beat William Eastman of Golden Valley on a 10-4 decision, beat Roger Baines of Sheldon 7-4, lost to Steve Arrambide of Vintage by pin in 4:11, and then beat William Anderson of Granite Bay on a 4-3 decision to place fifth.
Kris Merrill (285) lost to Johnny Schupp of Vacaville on a pin in 4:27 in the semifinal. Schupp went on to win first place. Merrill then lost to Bryan Hayashida of Elk Grove on a pin in 2:34, and beat Jordan Alleva of Folsom on a 3-1 decision to place fifth.