By Steve Ramirez
BAKERSFIELD – San Marino High School’s Julian Flores and Walnut’s Michael Sill showed Saturday they still rank among the best in their respective weight classes in the state,
The duo placed fifth at 120 and 138 pounds, respectively, to lead area performances at the CIF State championships at Rabobank Arena.
Northview’s Bryan Salinas, who fought back from a loss in the quarterfinals on Friday, was eighth at 170 after defaulting the seventh-place bout due to an injured knee.
The Vikings’ Eric Ochoa (113) and Daniel Valles (138) and Chino Hills’ Garrick Gurney (170) lost in the consolation fifth round and did not receive a medal.
For Flores, it might a sign of greater things to come after placing fifth in his freshman season.
“It’s a great accomplishment,” Flores said. “I had a lot of tough matches and I just kept fighting and tried to stay confident and I was able to get fifth.”
He fought back from a 5-0 loss to top-ranked Mason Pengilly, of Porterville, in the semifinals to beat Madera’s Daniel Ruiz, 11-4, in the fifth-place bout.
He controlled the match from the outset, using a takedown and nearfall for a 5-0 lead in the first period. He pushed it to 9-2 after two periods before getting a takedown in the third for the 11-4 victory.
“I knew he would be tough,” Flores said. “I just tried to do what I did all weekend and I got the win.”
For Sill, finishing fifth was more disappointment than thrill. He had his sights set on bigger glory after winning in the quarterfinals on Friday.
“It’s good (to finish fifth),” Sill said. “But I wanted to be a state champion. At least I won the last match of my high school career.”
Sill’s hopes for a state title were dashed with an 8-4 loss to San Francisco Riordan’s Elijah Davis in Saturday morning’s semifinals. But he rebounded from the setback to take fifth with a 4-3 victory over Corona Santiago’s Mike Long in the fifth-place bout,using a takedown in the final 10 seconds for the win.
“I just tried all my moves,” Sill said. “He really didn’t make a mistake. I was just trying to score. There was nothing to lose.”
Salinas, who won a CIF-Southern Section Masters championship last week, advanced to the semifinals with a victory over Los Osos’ Jonathan Solano (2-1) before losing to Madera’s Eric Gamboa (7-6). He injured his knee in that bout and defaulted the seventh-place bout.
Ochoa, Valles and Gurney lost in the consolation fifth round and did not medal.
Ochoa, who won his first CIF-SS division title two weeks ago, dropped a 3-1 setback to Jerry Vigil, of Heritage (Brentwood).
Valles, who lost to Sill in the quarterfinals on Friday, dropped a 6-4 setback to Nolan Kistler, of Martin Luther King (Riverside), with Gurney losing 7-3 to Harlan Kistler (King).
Ochoa and Gurney were attempting to medal after losing their opening matches on Friday.