By Stephen Ramirez
@SteveRRamirez on Twitter
BAKERSFIELD >> Julian Flores, along with brothers Zander and Evan Wick, were the core of San Marino High School’s rise from afterthought to one of the top wrestling programs in the state.
Saturday, Flores climbed the highest mountain, scoring the 132-pound title at the CIF State wrestling championships at Rabobank Arena.
He’s San Marino’s first state champion.
“It’s unbelievable,” Flores said. “I really didn’t have a good postseason, but it all matters here in March. I just let it go. It was amazing.”
Flores title capped a stellar day for San Marino, which also had Zander Wick place second at 145, with Zander Silva (113), Luke Troy (152) and Evan Wick (138) all earning top-eight medals.
But Saturday was all about Flores, who opened the day with a 5-2 win over Pitman’s Angel Velasquez in the semifinals before scoring a 3-1 win over Mission Oak’s Jaden Enriquez in the final.
He used an escape with 1:25 left in regulation to force overtime before taking down Enriquez early in the extra period for the win.
“I wasn’t really panicking,” Flores said. “I knew I would get a takedown some how. I didn’t know what I was going to do exactly, but I just hit on something.”
Zander Wick, after beating Palm Desert’s Anthony Mantanona in the semifinals, was hoping to join his teammate atop the podium. But was denied by Poway’s Ralphy Tovar, 5-0.
“He definitely knew what I was going to do,” Wick said. He slowed me down and I couldn’t get any of my offense. I tried my all, but it just wasn’t good enough.
“As far as the season, I did really well this year. I didn’t place here last year. To make it to the finals is a huge accomplishment, but it’s always a bummer when you lose in the finals.”
It was also a strong weekend for area competitors, who scored 10 medals. The others were San Dimas’ David Gonzalez (113, third), San Marino’s Silva (113, fifth), Wick (138, fourth) and Troy (152, third); Northview’s Richie Casillas (120, seventh) and Ricky Padilla (160, sixth); Sonora’s Russell Rohlfing (126, sixth) and Bishop Amat’s Nigel Ruiz (145, seventh).
Gonzalez fought back from 6-3 loss to Clovis’ Justin Meija in Friday’s quarterfinals to win four consecutive bouts on Saturday. He beat De La Salle’s Donovin Guerrero, 4-2, to take third.
“(Third is) the closest thing you can get in the consolation bracket,” Gonzalez said. “I came here to take first. Lost a tough one in the quarterfinals yesterday, and came back strong today.
“Once you lose, you can’t do any better. I wrestled my heart out. I can believe how fast these past four years have flown by. Everything worked out the way it did.”
Northview’s Joe Dominguez (145) and Damien’s Patrick Sanchez (285) lost in the consolation fifth round and will not medal.
2015 AREA STATE MEDALISTS
David Gonzalez, San Dimas, 3rd
Zander Silva, San Marino, 5th
Richie Casillas, Northview, 7th
Russell Rohlfing, Sonora, 6th
Julian Flores, San Marino, Champion
Evan Wick, San Marino 4th
Zander Wick, San Marino, 2nd
Nigel Ruiz, Bishop Amat, 7th
Luke Troy, San Marino, 3rd
Ricky Padilla, Northview, 6th