Previewing the state wrestling meet

Here’s a brief look at San Bernardino County wrestlers at the State Meet, which begins Friday in Bakersfield. Check back in this space for live updates from Bakersfield as the tournament progresses:

17 total wrestlers:
5 ranked in the top eight:
Matt Welch, Sultana (No. 3, 112)
Ray Delgado, Oak Hills (No. 6, 112)
Sean Silva, Barstow (No. 3, 119)
Chris Mecate, Redlands East Valley (No. 4, 125)
Giordan Porter, Rialto (No. 6, heavyweight)

School with most wrestlers, Sultana (5): Welch, Alec Smith (125), Michael Gonzalez (135), Ryan McWatters (152), Manuel Mazariegos (heavyweight).

Facing a ranked wrestler in their first match: Colony’s 160 Cody Dixon (facing No. 3), REV 215 Andrew Hudson (facing No. 6) and Mazariegos (facing No. 8).

Sophomores who qualified: Los Osos’ Timmy Maldonado (119), Oak Hills’ Robert Marchese (160).

Breakthrough wrestlers for their schools: Oak Hills’ Delgado and Marchese (first in school history), Dixon (first in school history), Bloomington’s Juan Alvarado (152), making it for the the first time in over 20 years from the school.

Toughest draw: Dixon, the CIF-SS Masters champion, faces the Central Section No. 7 wrestler, Bryce Hammond of Bakersfield, who happens to be ranked third in the state in his first match.
Also, REV’s Pedro Vazquez, who would possibly have to defeat the No. 4, No. 1 and No. 3-ranked wrestlers at 130 just to make the finals.

Returning to state for second time (7):
San Gorgonio’s Richie Cascante (112), Silva, Mecate (went two years ago), Hesperia’s Chris Sloat (160), Hudson, Mazariegos.

Returning state placers (3): Silva, Mecate, Hudson.

Unranked wrestlers who are dark horses to place: Mazariegos (who defaulted his last 2 matches at Masters), Hudson, who would “only” likely need to defeat No. 6 and No. 5 in the state to make the semis and guarantee a place.

Best bets: Mecate and Silva. Both are returning state placers and have the ability to maneuver through difficult brackets to the finals.