Oakmont junior Jake Elliott entered the CIF State Wrestling Championships at Rabobank Arena in Bakersfield last weekend as the state’s top-ranked wrestler at 145 pounds. The pressure and expectations, and eventual finals opponent Jessie Baldazo of Liberty High, couldn’t slow Elliott from his destiny and a state title.
Elliott, 48-4 before the championship, eliminated the 44-4 senior Baldazo 4-2 in the final match to claim the crown.
Elliott was one of three local wrestlers to make the finals in Bakersfield, but the only one to bring home a title. Union Mine’s Cody Tow and Oak Ridge’s Vince Waldhauser both earned runner-up honors.
Tow (41-6) entered the tournament as the Sac-Joaquin Section’s No. 3 seed in the 130-pound bracket and the state tournament’s No. 5 seed overall. After some impressive wrestling along the way, the senior managed to met up with No. 2-ranked Nick Pena (51-1) of Selma. The battle left Pena with a 6-3 win and the title, and Tow with second place.
Waldhauser (55-1), meanwhile, came into the match with only one loss on an impressive season’s record and as the Sac-Joaquin Section champion, but as the state tournament’s No. 2 seed. The senior was forced to face the state’s top-ranked 160-pounder in the finals, an undefeated senior from Bakersfield, Bryce Hammond (48-0). Hammond got the upper hand in the match, ultimately winning 7-3.
The rest of the finals were decided by wrestlers outside the Sac-Joaquin Section. At 103 pounds, No. 2-ranked Johnson Mai of North Torrance (38-1) beat No. 3-ranked Isaiah Locsin of Live Oak (48-3) 6-4. At 112 pounds, top-ranked Nahshon Garrett of Chico (48-1) beat No. 3-ranked Josh Rodriguez of Righetti (50-5) 5-0. At 119 pounds, No. 2-ranked Daniel Gaytan of Clovis (47-3) beat No. 1-ranked Stevan Knoblauch of Clovis West (51-3) 6-3. At 125 pounds, top-ranked Alex Cisneros of Selma (51-2) beat No. 3-ranked Vince Rodriguez of Clovis North (48-2) in overtime 2-1. At 135 pounds, top-ranked Chris Mecate of Redlands East Valley (46-1) beat No. 2-ranked Shane Yacuta of Porterville (49-2) 7-2. At 140 pounds, top-ranked Isaiah Martinez of Lemoore (48-4), a sophomore, beat No. 2-ranked Nick Cano of St. Francis (48-5), a senior, 18-10. At 152 pounds, top-ranked Joey Davis of Santa Fe (42-2) beat No. 2-ranked Victor Pereira of Newark Memorial (40-3) 9-5. At 171 pounds, top-ranked Nikko Reyes of Clovis West (49-1) beat No. 2-ranked Justin Lozano of Selma (50-1) 7-2. At 189 pounds, top-ranked Morgan McIntosh of Calvary Chapel (42-1) beat No. 3-ranked Preston Quam of San Clemente (44-0) 26-11. At 215 pounds, top-ranked William Knowles (30-2) beat NO. 3-ranked Austin Lobsinger of West Valley (30-0) 5-4.
But the story of the tournament came in the heavyweight division. At 285 pounds, freshman phenom Nick Nevills of Clovis (40-0) came into the match against an undefeated senior, Gabi Musallam of Mira Mesa (55-0), and blanked him for the state championship with a score of 5-0.