California is one of only a couple states in the United States that has one state championship tournament. No divisions. It’s only the best of the best qualified to compete for a top 8 finish (24,000 – 25,000 wrestlers in California). Only one state champ in your weight.

Competitors wrestle for three weeks to qualify, then do a three-day state championship tournament to be the best.

The grind is real.

Weight must be checked daily for those three weeks, starting at the beginning of February. Skipping meals and training on an empty stomach is the norm.

You must compete against yourself before you compete against your opponent. Competitors exercise daily to making weight again.

Some can’t make it and are disqualified.

The CIF State Championship tournament was held in Bakersfield at Mechanics Bank Arena. There were grapplers from Red Bluff to San Diego. Attending this event, which takes place on Thursday through Saturday, is recommended.

There were celebrities, MMA fighters, Olympians, world placers, professional athletes, college coaches, scouts, etc., at this year’s event.

Boys and Girls competed at the same time in the same arena. The crowd was ruthless, and its high school kids competing. It was almost like being in a WWE/UFC crowd. The seats were packed, and the arena was loud. Competitors had thousands of people watching them from the stands. To have any chance of doing well, the competitors had to turn their game up a notch or two.

Many matches end 1-1 or 1-0.

 Unlike other experiences, this environment is one of the best for athletes to build character.

 “Everyone has a plan until they get punched in their mouth,” said former heavyweight boxing champion Mike Tyson. These kids take the punches and keep moving forward. 

This year we had four student/athletes compete from Los Banos High School. Congratulations to these competitors for tying last year’s record.

 152 pounder – Brokton Borelli – 2-2 record

160 pounder – Larry Borelli – 3-2 Placed in the top 12 in the state but only 8 medal.

170 pounder – Raymond Fernandez – 2-2 record

170 pounder – Kiara Daniels – 3-2 Placed in the top 12 in the state but only 8 medal.

 Wrestling is unlike many other sports. There is only one State Championship. Only one in each weight division (14 for boys and 14 for girls) out of the thousands of competitors takes home a first-place trophy. Los Banos had two who placed in the top 12 in the State.

The Westside Express