Written by: Pablo Di Maria
The 2016 California Junior College season will mark the 57th year that wrestling has been alive at that level in the Golden State. Many state champions and place winners have gone on to have great success in Division I, II, III and at the NAIA level. Some outstanding wrestlers that come to mind that were state champions at the Junior College level are Division II National Champion for Cal State Bakersfield Florencio Rocha, Division I National Champion for Cal State Bakersfield Joe Gonzales, Division II National Champion for Cal State Bakersfield Mark Loomis, Division I All-Americans Yero Washington for Fresno State, Stan Greene for Fresno State, Ati Conner for the University of Nebraska and there are many more.
The lone returning state champion from the 2015 season is Seville Hayes of Palomar College. Hayes was able to do the unthinkable last year in the state finals as he defeated the No. 1 wrestler in the state, Jesse Gomez of Cerritos College, 3-2.
The California Community College Athletic Association state tournament this year will be hosted by Victor Valley College in Victor Valley, CA, on December 9th-10th.
*The preview was done thanks to the information that was sent by various head coaches.
TOM – What are the expectations this upcoming season for your squad?
Bakersfield College Coach Brett Clark "As for this year our expectations are to get to the end of the year and give ourselves a chance to be on the podium as individuals we want to place as high as we can as a team hopefully higher than we placed last year."
Palomar College Coach Brody Barrios "Our goals are simple…to be team state champions at the end of the tournament."
Sacramento City College Coach David Pacheco "Expectations for the 2016 season – We are looking for our 6th straight BIG 8 Conference Championship and also looking to defend the state championship from 2015."
Fresno City College Coach Paul Keysaw "We are trying to win a state championship. We want to bring a trophy home from the state championship."
Cerritos College Coach Donny Garriott "I have high expectations every season for the Cerritos College Program. I feel that this team can meet these expectations. We have a great nucleus of returners to guide an outstanding group of newcomers."
Sept. 10 – Bakersfield College Duals (Bakersfield College)
Sept. 17 – KLS Air Express Invitational (Sacramento City College)
Sept. 17 – Mt. San Antonio Duals (Mt. San Antonio College)
Sept. 24 – West Hills Individual Tournament (West Hills College)
Oct. 1 – Santa Ana Individual Tournament (Santa Ana College)
Oct. 8 – Mike Tamana Invitational (Modesto College)
Oct. 15 – Southern Region Team Duals (Palomar College)
Oct. 15 – Northern Region Team Duals (Santa Rosa College)
Oct. 22 – Meathead Movers Invitational (Cuesta College)
Nov. 5 – Bill Musick Open Tournament (Fresno City College)
No. 19 – The East L.A. Brawl Tournament (East L.A. College)
Dec. 3 – CCCAA Southern Region (Cuesta College)
Dec. 3 – CCCAA Northern Region (Lassen College)
Dec. 9-10 CCCAA State Tournament (Victor Valley College)
Weight Class – 125
Returning CCCAA state runner-up Julian Gaytan, of Fresno City College, will be the clear favorite to win an individual state championship for the Rams this upcoming season. An alumnus of powerhouse Clovis High, Gaytan knows what it takes to become a champion in the elite level. Gaytan was successful last season in winning the Mike Tamana Invitational and the Northern Region tournament. Gaytan should get a challenge for the state title by returning state place winner Tyler Poalillo of Santa Rosa College and Pedro Sarabia of Bakersfield College. Poalillo had a great 2014-2015 season that saw him place in the Sacramento City tournament, Modesto tournament, Coast Conference, Northern Region and State. Pedro Sarabia of Bakersfield College wound up in 7th place in the Southern Region and was a match away from placing in the state tournament; he is someone to keep an eye on this season. Incoming freshmen that should make an impact in this weight class are 2016 CIF California state place winner Brandon Bettencourt (Clovis High/Fresno City College), three-time CIF California state qualifier Morgan Sauceda (Chico High/Sacramento City College), two-time CIF California state qualifier Roberto Buenrostro (Citrus Hills High/Cerritos College) and CIF California state qualifier Brandon Mendoza (Buhach Colony High/Fresno City College).
Weight Class – 133 lbs.
This weight class should be nails with all the talent that it returns. Anthony Vargas of Cerritos College is a returning CCCAA state runner-up looking to acquire an individual state championship. Last season, Vargas was a finalist at the West Hills, Santa Ana, and Bill Musick Open. During the 2014-2015 season, Vargas finished with a 24-6 record and gathered All-Conference Honors. Another state runner-up in this weight class is 2014 125-pound CCCAA finalist Alberto Garcia of Palomar College. Garcia redshirted last season, but should be ready to make a run at an individual state championship. Vargas and Garcia should be tested by Jake Schaefer of Palomar College who finished as the Southern Region runner-up and was 3rd in the state tournament. An incoming freshman that should challenge for All-American Honors is Alex Lopez (Santa Maria High/Sacramento City College).
Weight Class – 141 lbs.
Andrew Gomez of Santa Ana College is the highest returning state place winner making him one of the favorites to win a state championship at the end of the season. Gomez should be challenged by the 141-pound Northern Region champion Ezra Clark of Skyline and Chris Kimball of Palomar College who is moving up a weight class after placing in the state tournament at 133 pounds. Two individuals that should make a big impact for their respective teams are Richard Pocock of Cerritos College and Jesse Jaime of Mt. San Antonio College. Pocock and Jaime were state qualifiers last year in this weight class. Incoming freshman that should challenge for All-American Honors is CIF state place winner Bobby Miguel (Clovis West/Fresno City College), Hawaiian state runner-up Caleb Reyes (Moanalua High/Sacramento City College) and CIF state qualifier Matt Minton (Sutter High/Sacramento City College).
Weight Class – 149 lbs.
The lone returning state medalist back in this weight class is Mark Taijeron of Modesto College. Taijeron had a solid 2014-2015 season that saw him place at the Mike Tamana Invitational, Meathead Movers Invitational, and at the Coast Conference tournament. Sacramento City College has a great wrestler in Carlos Alvarez that should make some noise this season; he is someone to keep an eye on. Incoming freshmen that should challenge for All-American Honors are CIF three-time state qualifier Chris Lane (Clovis West High/Fresno City College), CIF two-time state qualifier Dean Esquibel (Buchanan High/Fresno City College), and CIF state place winners Isaac Bertolotto (Turlock High/Sacramento City College) and Leif Dominguez (Gilroy High/Cuesta College). Cerritos College has a great dilemma in this weight class as they have three outstanding newcomers that could challenge for All-American honors this year Alex Hernandez (West Valley High), Wyatt Gerl (Downey/Calvary Chapel) and Johnny Knowles of Santa Ana/Calvary Chapel.
Weight Class – 157 lbs.
2015 CCCAA state champion Aaron Negrette of Cerritos College will not be competing this season as he will redshirt for the Falcons. Despite his absence, three state place winners and a state medalist from 2013 will make this weight class a competitive one. Noor Kathem of Modesto College and Josh Annis of Fresno City College finished 5th and 7threspectively in the state tournament and will attempt to improve on their placing. Daniel Larman of Sacramento City College, who placed 6th in the state tournament in 2013 for Santa Rosa College, should be a contender to win a state title of his own and help the Panthers repeat as team state champions. Keep an eye on Dylan Moreno of Cerritos College who placed 4th in the Southern Region and 6th in the state. He is an unorthodox wrestler that will be a serious threat to win a state title in December. Incoming freshmen that should challenge for All-American Honors are two-time CIF state champion Israel Saavedra (Granite Bay High/Fresno City College), CIF state qualifier Todd Alexander (Elk Grove High/Sacramento City College) and CIF state qualifier Kenneth Kirk (Elsinore High/Cerritos College). Kirk is the younger brother of former state champion for the Falcons Dustin Kirk, who currently competes for King University.
Weight Class – 165 lbs.
Derek Lee Loy of Sacramento City was the runner-up in 2015 and will have his sights set on finishing one place higher this year. The native from Hawaii will be one of the leaders for Coach Pacheco and the Panthers this season. 2015 Southern Region runner-up Roger Arce of Rio Hondo College will be one of the favorites to win the region and the state tournament this season. An alumnus of Northview High, Arce knows exactly what he needs to do to become a state champion in December. Arman Fayazzi of Santa Ana College is the second-highest returning state place winner from the Southern Region and should also be a contender to win an individual state title. Keep an eye on Jamal Halvorson of Shasta College who is a returning state place winner. Incoming freshmen that should challenge for All-American Honors are CIF state place winner Nickolas Chapman (Inderkum High/Sacramento City College), CIF state qualifier Blake Vasquez (Fountain Valley High/Cerritos College) and two-time North Coast Section place winner Joel Anguiano (Healdsburg High/Santa Rosa College).
Weight Class – 174 lbs.
Along with Derek Lee-Loy, Coach David Pacheco will be counting on 2015 CCCAA state runner-up Trevor Wright to bring back home a state championship to the city of Sacramento. Ranked No. 2 in the state all year long last year, Wright turned in the biggest upset of the 2015 season when he pinned returning state champion Mo Naser of Fresno City College in the finals of the Northern Region tournament. Down 10-8, Wright scored a takedown with 5 seconds left to tie the score in regulation at 10-10. In overtime, the two came out in a scramble and Wright countered a move from Nasser and put him on his back for the fall. Another returning state place winner who will be looking to win an individual state championship is Stephen Martin of Skyline College. Martin began the season competing in the 184-pound weight class where he placed at the West Hills tournament, Mike Tamana Invitational, and the Coast Conference tournament. A wrestler that will be a treat for any competitor he faces this season will be Joel Villa of Cerritos College. Coach Donny Garriott is confident that this will be the year were Joel accomplish his dream of being called a state champion. Ranked No. 4 all year long last season, Villa won the East Los Angeles Brawl tournament and finished as the runner-up in the West Hills and Southern Region tournaments to advance to the state tournament. Dupre Goodman of Skyline College is back for Coach James Haddon attempting to become an All-American this season. Goodman competed in the 2014 state tournament after placing 6th in the Northern Region. A wrestler to look forward to in the 2015-2016 season is Andrew Binger of Bakersfield College. Binger was a varsity starter for the Renegades last year where he was a state alternative after finishing 7th in the Southern Region. An incoming redshirt freshman that should challenge for All-American Honors is Bryan Vasquez (Fountain Valley High/Cerritos College). Vasquez spent the 2014-2015 season redshirting at Western State University in the state of Colorado.
Weight Class – 184 lbs.
Three returning state place winners from last season, two athletes that qualified for the 2014 state tournament and a transfer from National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) powerhouse Clackamas College will make this weight class fun to watch. Ty Freeman of Santa Ana College had a great run in the state tournament that saw him placed 6th after barely squeaking out of the Southern Region. Freeman will be one of the leaders for the Dons this upcoming season and one of the favorites to win a state title. Zack Michell of Bakersfield College and Patrick Penick of Shasta College are the other returning state place winners that will have legitimate chances of winning individual state titles for their respective programs. During the 2013-2014 season, Kalan Hastey competed for Coach David Pacheco and the Sacramento City College Panthers where he finished 4th (174 lbs.) in the Northern Region and was a match away from placing in the state tournament. After taking a year off from collegiate wrestling, Hastey is back and more than ready to win an individual state championship of his own. Chad Thodos of Skyline College also qualified for the state tournament in 2014 after placing 4th in the Northern Region in this weight class. Another wrestler with collegiate experience under his belt is Julio Fuentes of Bakersfield College. Fuentes attended Clackamas College in Oregon last season and now is back in his hometown of Bakersfield ready to become a state champion for the Renegades. Wrestling fans should keep an eye on him as he will be a real threat for any competitor he faces this season.
Weight Class – 197 lbs.
Dominick Freesha is back on the Fresno City College team after placing 6th in the state tournament in 2014. His experience at the collegiate level will make him one of the favorites to acquire a state championship in December. Two incoming wrestlers that should challenge for an individual state title are David Van Weems (Corona-Centennial High/Cerritos College) and Daniel Pena (Birmingham High/East Los Angeles College). Van Weems was a two-time CIF state qualifier and placed 4th as a senior for the Huskies. Pena also advanced to the CIF state tournament twice and placed as a senior. Pena competed for the North Dakota State University wrestling team during the 2013-2014 season. Keep an eye on Paris Henry (Windsor High/Santa Rosa College) who was the backup last year for the Panthers in this weight class. Henry was a North Coast Section place winner and a CIF state qualifier in high school.
Weight Class – 285 lbs.
Returning state champion Seville Hayes of Palomar College will be the favorite to become the 33rd state champion for Coach Brody Barrios and the Comets this upcoming season. Hayes was successful last season in winning the Meathead Movers Invitational and the East Los Angeles Brawl tournament with ease. Tony Fiorido of East Los Angeles College, who finished 7th in the Southern Region, should make a huge impact for the Huskies and attempt to gather All-American Honors this season. Incoming freshmen that should challenge for All-American Honors are Tony Zavala (Lakewood High/Cerritos College), Jarred Kirk (Calaveras High/Sacramento City College) and Ramon Guzman (Lincoln High/Skyline College). All three athletes were CIF state qualifiers during the 2014-2015 high school season.