The final blog from Bakersfield, after two beleagured days of watching some unbelievable wrestling at the CIF State Championships.
Redlands East Valley freshman Chris Mecate (103) was sixth, a remarkable feat for a freshman. He still has a long ways to go in his high school career, but in 35 years of the meet entering this one, there have only been 14 four-time state placers. And none of those have come from San Bernardino County. Although the finals were dominated by seniors, he wasn’t the only freshman to place in the top eight. There were four others, the highest placing fifth.
San Dimas senior Angel Garcia (125) was second, but falling short of his state title should not diminish his remarkable career that included four CIF-SS division championship titles, qualifying for state four times and placing at state twice. He should be successful in college.
Ontario senior Oscar Navarette (215) was eighth, and now he’ll have a decision to make. He’s a standout football player, but his success and enjoyment of wrestling makes him want to consider that as well. If he goes the junior college route, it’ll be near impossible to do both: the junior college wrestling season is in the fall, conflicting with football. Four-year colleges wrestle in the winter.
Bonita senior David Stupplebean (145) failed to place, falling one match short. Bonita has never had a state placer. Coach Rich Cunningham said something I didn’t realize: Bonita doesn’t have a wrestling room. While some schools are trying to get youth or club programs going, Bonita still needs something that is seemingly basic to all wrestling programs.
In the High Desert, a couple of decades ago, it was Victor Valley as the power. Victor Valley won the state championship in 1987. More recently, the High Desert power has been Sultana. But Sultana’s city rival Hesperia is the current top dog in the area. Hesperia had three of its four state qualifiers place, a first for a school and a High Desert high equalled only by Victor Valley in ’87
Sultana can’t be forgotten, as Ryan Fillingame did take seventh at 119.