Aguilar, Andrade take second at CIF state wrestling

Gilroy's Nic Aguilar points up to the sky following his championship match at the CIF wrestling finals in Bakersfield.

BAKERSFIELD—Two finalists. Four medalists. Nine qualifiers. Fifth place in the state.
Yep, just another year for Gilroy High wrestling at the California Interscholastic Federation State Wrestling Championships.
The Mustangs lived up to their powerhouse status as usual, and with the usual craziness involved when the state’s top 40 wrestlers in each weight class come together, some kids did more than expected and some came up shorter. All in all, coach Greg Varela said it was a successful trip to Rabobank Arena.
“As a team, fifth is right about where we measured up. I definitely wanted to see us challenge for that third place spot. We are hoping to push that mark to break into the top three next year,” Varela said. “Individually, we had some setbacks. But we also had some great triumphs and seeing kids grow as people. A great weekend.”
Christopher and San Benito each qualified a pair as well.
Highlighting the haul for Gilroy was junior Nick Aguilar (113 pounds), who finished second for the second-straight year. He avenged last year’s title match loss to Matt Olguin of Buchanan (Clovis) with a tight 1-0 semifinal win, but in the final he lost 6-5 to Jesse Vasquez of St. John Bosco (Bellflower).
“You can’t take beating Olguin for granted, he’s third in the nation and (was) undefeated. Beating him is a huge feather in the hat for us,” Varela said. “As far as the finals, there were a lot of questionable calls in the match and the referee did things to put us in weird spots. True to his character, Nick stayed composed and stuck to the game plan and we almost came away with a win.”
Tony Andrade (195) was the other finalist, and his path was not an easy one. He missed all of last wrestling season due to a football injury and struggled to get back this season. He went 5-1 in the tournament, with a 12-3 loss to No. 1 seed Chasen Blair of Rancho Bernardo (San Diego) in the final.
“When he came back into wrestling we put him right on the mat to get past the fears and get his confidence up. If you would’ve seen him in December there is no way you’d think that guy could make it to the state meet. He was crawling back to the center of the mat,” Varela said. “Coaches kept him going, and as the season rolled on he got more steam and by the state meet he was ready.”
For junior Alex Felix (132), he made it three medals in three years with a third-place finish. He’ll have one more chance to get into that elusive title match next year.
In 2017, he managed a 6-1 record, losing 3-0 to Lemoore’s Gary Joint in the semifinals. Joint ended up winning the title.
“He was laser-focused. You’re not going to surprise everybody because they know who you are and everyone has seen him wrestle,” Varela said. “He didn’t let anybody else’s plans dictate his match. He was on fire. He was great.
“At that level one mistake is what does it. Instead of hanging his head he came back and picked up right where he left off (in the third-place match).”
Sophomore Joseph Barnes (160) rounded out the medal parade with an eighth-place finish. Barnes was seeded ninth so he exceeded expectations a bit, and he fought through consolation to get his award. After losing in the second match of Friday competition, Barnes rifled off three wins in a row with his back against the wall. He lost to the sixth-place finisher once and the seventh-place finisher twice.
Also for Gilroy, sophomore Johnny Fox (138) went 3-2. Freshman Chase Saldate (120), freshman Nicholas Villareal (170) and sophomore Daniel Vizcarra (126) went 2-2. Sophomore Nathan Villareal (145) went 1-2.
Christopher wrestlers came away empty-handed in a year in which the school sent its most ever to the state meet. Senior Anthony Figueroa (152) couldn’t grab a win in his trip to the big show, losing a 12-4 major decision to Nasir Grissom of Santa Monica (ranked No. 8 in the state) and then getting pinned in 1:56 by Tyler Gianakopulos of Clovis. Junior Antonio Gomez (220) lost 5-2 to Elk Grove’s Jake Bellecci then couldn’t get past Victor Moore of Calaveras (San Andreas) in a 4-3 setback.
San Benito brought two competitors and left with a 1-4 combined record. Junior Bryce Mattson (160) staved off elimination with an 11-0 major decision over Abraham Smith of Rim of the World (Lake Arrowhead), but that win was sandwiched around a pin in 1:14 to Sam Azar of Aliso Niguel and a 4-3 decision to Jovovan Smith of Birmingham (Lake Balboa).
Senior Michael Camacho (195) was back for his second year at state and came in ranked 14th, but he dropped both of his matches in close fashion. State-ranked No. 8 Adrian Godinez of Foothill (Bakersfield) beat Camacho 5-3 and then in consolation Camacho fell 3-2 to Karim Shakur of Tamalpais (Mill Valley).

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