BAKERSFIELD – Mustangs send eight grapplers to CIF State
Championships. The two-day event begins today at 9 a.m.
BAKERSFIELD – All year, the words uttered by members of the Gilroy High wrestling team time and time again have been their desire to not only succeed but dominate at the state meet, and now they have their opportunity.
Head coach Greg Varela and eight wrestlers from California’s fifth-ranked team join 560 other hopefuls in Bakersfield this weekend to participate in the California Interscholastic Federation State Wrestling Championships, with competition starting today.
“Absolutely they are ready,” Varela said Wednesday. “Before CCS they started looking at the big picture, preparing mentally, doing the extra things to get ready. They have been hanging out together constantly, lifting weights at lunch and doing all the little extra things it takes.”
Among the Mustangs’ eight wrestlers contending for individual championships is three-time state placer and defending title holder at 112 pounds, Jesse Delgado, the state’s No. 1-ranked wrestler at 125 pounds.
After capturing its eighth consecutive Central Coast Section crown two weeks ago, the perennially powerful Gilroy team is out to improve upon last season’s sixth-place showing at state. In its last seven trips to Bakersfield, Gilroy’s best finish came just two seasons ago when the Mustangs finished second.
In total, the Mustangs program has four state champions to its credit, a list that includes two-time winner Martin Gonzalez (2008, 2009) as well as Kordell Baker (1987), Hunter Collins (2008) and Delgado.
Arguably, the Mustangs boast the strongest group of wrestlers they have brought to the state tournament, with four grapplers currently ranked in the top-eight in the state in their weight classes.
“I think in (2006) we were just as stacked as we are now,” Varela said, comparing this year’s team to the 2006 team that finished in fourth place and had four wrestlers place in the top five.
Along with Delgado, senior Dominic Kastl is also ranked No. 1 at 160 pounds. His brother, sophomore Blake Kastl, is No. 4 at 135 pounds and senior Luis Barragan moved up one spot to No. 7 at 285 pounds in the current rankings published by The California Wrestler.
“The fact that they have been in this position before and it’s not the first time with these expectations, I think helps,” Varela said. “Every year you have to learn from your mistakes.”
Leif Dominguez (103), Rodney Balajadia (119), Willie Fox (130) and Vicente Aboytes (152) round out the Mustangs formidable lineup.
First round matches are set and complete brackets can be found at www.cifstate.org.
“It’s going to come down to who is going to be hot this weekend,” Varela said regarding the stiff competition the Mustangs know they will encounter. “They are all going to be ready just like us.”
Competiton begins at 9 a.m. today with the finals at 6:30 p.m. on Saturday from Rabobank Arena.
Current top-5 state-ranked teams:
4. Calvary Chapel