No. 9 Clovis leads loaded field at Battle for the Belt

Josh Lowe

1/17/2013
Josh Lowe, InterMat High School Analyst
josh@intermatwrestle.com

Two weekends after No. 9 Clovis, Calif., finished first in a loaded field at their home tournament, the Doc Buchanan Invitational, the Cougars travel down south right between Los Angeles and San Diego for the Clinch Gear Battle for the Belt at Temecula Valley High School this Friday and Saturday. It is again a loaded field featuring three other Fab 50 teams -- No. 19 Poway, Calif., No. 33 Bethlehem Catholic, Pa., and No. 43 Vacaville, Calif., -- along with thirteen nationally ranked wrestlers covering nine of fourteen weight classes.

Isaiah Locsin (Photo/John Sachs, Tech-Fall.com)
Arguably the tournament's featured weight class is at 120 pounds where a pair of state champions, both of whom are nationally ranked; an additional ranked wrestler; as well as three other state placers will do battle. The state champions are No. 3 Darian Cruz (Bethlehem Catholic, Pa.) and No. 11 Isaiah Locsin (Live Oak, Calif.), while the other ranked wrestler is two-time third in the state No. 14 Micah Perez (Central Union, Calif.). Joshua Temple (Green Valley, Nev.) placed third at state, Jordan Gurrola (North Torrance, Calif.) placed seventh, and Arnulfo Olea (Exeter, Calif.) is a two-time state placer.

The other two weight classes with multiple nationally ranked wrestlers are 113 and 170. At 113, it is a pair of sophomores who won state championships last year in No. 1 Zahid Valencia (St. John Bosco, Calif.) and No. 20 Sean Cannon (Green Valley, Calif.). Others present in this weight include two-time state placer Gionn Peralta (Vacaville, Calif.), state placers Julian Gayton (Clovis, Calif.) and Matt Smull (Shasta, Calif.), as well as two-time state qualifier Sean Williams (Lemoore, Calif.) who also placed at the Ironman.

The 170-pound weight features a trio of state placers: No. 13 Corey Griego (Sultana, Calif.), champion of the Doc Buchanan, and Ray Lomas (Central Catholic, Calif) who both placed fifth; along with No. 17 Steve Cervantes (Poway, Calif.), who was seventh at state but a runner-up at the Reno TOC losing to No. 2 Cody Wiercioch (Canon McMillan, Pa.) in overtime.

Additional nationally ranked wrestlers in the field include No. 12 Ali Naser (El Camino Real, Calif.) at 132 pounds, No. 14 (at 138) Anthony Valencia (St. John Bosco, Calif.) at 145, No. 2 Isaiah Martinez (Lemoore, Calif.) at 160, No. 20 Adrian Salas (Clovis, Calif.) at 182, No. 4 Spencer Empey (Reed, Nev.), and No. 3 Nick Nevills (Clovis, Calif.) at 285.

Naser, Martinez -- though fellow state champion Drew Smith (Damonte Ranch, Nev.) is in his weight class, Empey, and Nevills should go relatively untested in their weight classes. In the 145 weight class, four other wrestlers present formidable alternatives to Valencia: two-time state placer Victor Lopez (Poway, Calif.), state placer Jason Ladd (Clovis, Calif.), three-time state finalist Alex Aniciete (Las Vegas, Nev.), and two-time state finalist Zack Perry (Green Valley, Nev.). Notable alternatives to Salas at 182 include state runner-up Kyle Pope (Bakersfield, Calif.) and state qualifier Jose Ortiz (Bethlehem Catholic, Pa), a NHSCA sophomore Nationals runner-up.

Nationally ranked wrestlers are absent at 106, 126, 138, 152, and 195 but that does not mean a lack of quality competition. The 106 weight class features three of the top eight in the state of California -- state placer Adrian Camposano (Central), Reno TOC champion Tirso Lara (Poway), and state qualifier Nico Colunga (Oakdale) -- as well as freshman Luke Karam (Bethlehem Catholic, Pa.), a 2011 Cadet freestyle finalist.

The 126-pound weight class features a pair of wrestlers that have taken fifth and second each of the last two years at the state tournament. Zeke Moisey (Bethlehem Catholic, Pa.) is one of the nation's top juniors, and would be nationally ranked, but made his season debut just last week as the FloNationals champion recovers from an injury. The Kent State bound Jonas Gayton (Clovis, Calif.) also placed fifth at the FloNationals last spring.

The 138-pound weight class is led by three-time state finalist Geordan Martinez (Pine Creek, Colo.), who also is a two-time state champion and was a Cadet National double All-American in 2011. Two others to watch here are two-time state placer Ryan Todora (Bethlehem Catholic, Pa.) and Doc Buchanan finalist Sergio Enloe (Poway, Calif.).

The 152-pound weight class features a trio of California state placers. First is two-time state placer Coleman Hammond (Bakersfield), who was fourth as a freshman and third last year as a junior. Next is Kyle Perreault (Clovis East), who placed seventh at state but was a NHSCA Junior National champion last spring. Finally in the trio is Luke Wilson (Righetti), who placed eighth at state, eight at the NHSCA Junior Nationals, but had a pair of wins over Perreault at the Doc Buchanan two weekends ago. Additionally, the field also includes two-time state placer Alex Smith (Pine Creek, Colo.)

Finally, at 195 pounds, there are three notable title contenders. Reno TOC champion Jeremy Sweany (Vacaville, Calif.) placed eighth at state last year and was third at the NHSCA Sophomore Nationals, Immanuel Barber (Canyon Springs, Calif.) placed third at state and third at the NHSCA Junior Nationals, while Josh Alpha (Bethlehem Catholic, Pa.) is a two-time state qualifier.

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