By Stephen Ramirez
@SteveRRamirez on Twitter
BAKERSFIELD — There were no area champions, but locals still put together a strong showing at the CIF State wrestling championships at Rabobank Arena on Saturday.
They produced five medalists, led by San Marino High School’s Evan Wick and Julian Flores, who took fifth at 120 and 132 pounds, respectively. The other placers were Bishop Amat’s Nigel Ruiz (145), Northview’s Bryan Salinas (160) and Bonita’s Seth Morales (170). All were eighth after losing medal-round matches.
Flores began the day as the lone area competitor with a shot at the title. But he lost to Paradise’s Wyatt Wyckoff by fall in overtime in the semifinals, then re-grouped to finish fifth, losing to Clovis’ Isaiah Hokit in the third-place semifinals before beating Selma’s Ruben Garcia, 7-6, in the fifth-place match.
“I ended up taking fifth again,” said Flores, who was fifth at 120 last season after losing in the semifinals.
“I’m not really happy about that. It’s a lot of work. It sounds good, but placing fifth? I’m not really happy about it.”
It looked like Flores might have a chance to be the area’s first state finalist after he scored a reverse late in regulation against Wyckoff. But then was pinned with nine seconds left in the extra period.
“It was kind of tough coming back,” Flores said. “In some ways, I thought I had it. I lost that match and then the next one, and took fifth.”
Wick came back from a disappointing one-point loss in the quarterfinals to win three of four bouts on the day, beating Poway’s Kimo Dial in the consolation fifth round to ensure a top-eight finish before beating Bakersfield’s Carlos Herrera by fall (1:41) in the fifth-place bout.
“It’s definitely disappointing, not being in the finals, not taking first,” Wick said. “But fifth place I feel is still like a strong finish. It’s a tournament where everyone shows up. I feel I wrestled by best. It’s all behind us now.”
Ruiz went 1-2, but became the first Bishop Amat competitor to place at the state championships since Andrew Ortega was fifth at 125 in 2008. He secured a medal after beating Carter Armendarez, 7-6, in the consolation fifth round. He lost to El Dorado’s Gino Roman, 6-2, in the seventh-place match.
“It’s an amazing feeling, knowing that I accomplished something that no one (at Amat) has done in a while,” Ruiz said. “Overall, it was a great experience — my first time at state, first time getting this far. It feels pretty good.”
Salinas, who beat Liberty’s Jake Maas in the consolation fifth round, and Morales, who beat Corona Santiago’s Bryce DeCammargo in the consolation fifth round, defaulted their seventh-place matches.
San Dimas’ David Gonzalez (106), San Marino’s Zander Wick (126), Northview’s Ricky Padilla (152), Diamond Bar’s Keandre Johnson (220) and Glendora’s Ryan Padilla (285) lost in the consolation fifth round and did not medal.