Weight-By-Weight Preview Of Southern California's 5 Counties Tournament

Sonny Santiago

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After a great weekend of wrestling at the Doc Buchanan tournament, this weekend’s action will resume in Southern California at the always-tough 5 Counties tournament. 

The tournament will feature four-time California state champions Buchanan High, San Diego power Rancho Bernardo, Central Section and state power Selma High, as well as Gilroy High, the most dominant team in the Central Coast. After winning a cowboy hat at the Doc Buchanan tournament, the duo from Selma High — Richard Figueroa and Tristan Lujan — will be in the hunt of winning the second championship belt of their careers. Other returning champions looking for a second belt include Chase Saldate of Gilroy (152), Max Wilner of Fountain Valley (170), Javen Jovero of Rancho Bernardo (182), and Nicholas Villareal of Gilroy (285).

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106lbs

Not much power in the field here at 106 pounds. Nevertheless, we should see Raymond Lopez (Buchanan) claim his fifth tournament title of the season. A week ago, he dominated the field at the Doc Buchanan tournament by earning four falls in the five matches he had. In the finals, he pinned Michael Torres (Oakdale) who had earned the upset over Tyler Vasquez (Delbarton, N.J.). A wrestler ready to make a name for himself in the high school level is Clarence Moore (Gilroy). A Super 32 place winner during his middle school year’s, Moore won a couple of matches at the Doc Buchanan tournament.

113lbs

Richard Figueroa (Selma) is the perennial favor here at this weight class. Ranked No. 1 in the country, Figueroa has yet to lose to any California wrestler during the regular season. He will be waiting in the finals ready to take on either Jack Gioffre (Buchanan) who was a state runner-up last year or Zeth Romney (Chaminade Prep), who was seventh at the Doc Buchanan tournament and is a former Fargo Cadet All-American. Don’t count out Maximus Martinez (St. John Bosco) who was third at the Super 32 tournament. He had a bad tournament at Doc Buchanan but should redeem himself and show the fans in attendance why he is considered a contender to win a state title in California. 

It is not yet determined if Super 32 Champion Jacob Rivera (Selma) will be competing this weekend. Rumors were circulating last weekend that he failed to make weight at 113. We should see if he decides to bump up a weight class and challenge Lujan for a championship belt. Other wrestlers who will attempt to win this event or get on the podium include Fargo Greco-Roman Champion Billy Sullivan (Slam, NV), Washington state place winners Benjamin Milligan (White River), and Steven Zaragoza (North Central), as well as California state qualifier Calvin Antonio (Evergreen Valley) and Sean Solis (Fountain Valley).

120lbs

Michigan State recruit Tristan Lujan (Selma) put an electrifying show last weekend at the Doc Buchanan tournament as he defeated Carlos Negrete Jr. (Buchanan) 4-3 with a late reversal. A second match should occur this weekend in the finals as both wrestlers are the cream of the crop in this weight class. 

A wrestler who I believe can be the dark horse in this weight class is Kenndyl Mobley (North Central, Washington). Mobley was the 2018 Fargo Cadet Greco-Roman Champion and recently won the Tri-State tournament in Idaho by pinning four of the five opponents he faced. Yoshiya Funakoshi (West Torrance) was eighth at the state tournament last year. However, I am not sure if he has adjusted to this weight class as he was third at the Mann Classic and fifth at the Las Vegas Holiday Classic. Hopefully, this weekend he will showcase his talent. 

Keep an eye on Jesse Gayton (Lemoore) who was a California state qualifier and advanced to the quarterfinal round of the Reno Tournament of Champions. A wrestler one can’t forget about is Adrian Limon (Northview). Limon had a great offseason that saw him win the Freakshow in a bracket filled with state place winners and Fargo All-Americans.

126lbs

It is unclear if two-time California state champion Maximo Renteria (Buchanan) will be competing this weekend. At the Doc Buchanan tournament, Renteria injury defaulted from the tournament after advancing to the semifinals. If he does not compete, Jayden Gomez (Gilroy) becomes the favorite at this weight class. Gomez is an NHSCA champion and a Fargo All-American. A wrestler that could advance far in the bracket is Nate Belcourt (White River); Belcourt is a Washington state champion. 

Other wrestlers that have the potential to do some damage in the tournament include California state qualifiers Jake Quintana (Valencia/Valencia), Brian Benevidez (Porterville), and Roman Carrillo (Paloma Valley).

132lbs

Three wrestlers with state experience highlight this weight class. Nevertheless, the leader of the pack should be Wayne Joint (Lemoore). Joint has been on fire as of late by winning the Reno Tournament of Champions and placing fourth at Doc Buchanan. He is currently ranked No. 2 in California. 

Buchanan has two wrestlers that have the potential to win this event. They are Hunter Leake and Michael Gioffre. Leake is a former California state place winner that placed sixth at Doc Buchanan. Gioffre is a two-time folkstyle All-American that finished in the bloodround at Doc Buchanan by losing close matches to the fourth and eighth place winner. Timothy Levine (St. John Bosco) was seventh at Doc Buchanan and he is a former National Prep All-American. Devin Murphy (Selma) is a two-time California state place winner that made his debut for Selma High at the Doc Buchanan tournament. He finished the tournament with a 3-2 record as he lost his final match to Leake (5-0). 

Keep an eye on Cameron Owen (Paloma Valley). He is a two-time section qualifier that took two-time New Jersey state champion Anthony Clark (Delbarton) to the limit as he lost a close 9-7 match at Doc Buchanan.

138lbs

Isaac Salas (St. John Bosco) jumped in delight after earning a hard-fought 7-6 win over the No. 2 wrestler in California Henry Porter (Gilroy) at the Doc Buchanan tournament. Salas would eventually lose in the semifinal round to the eventual champion Justin Rivera (Lake Highland Prep, Florida) in overtime. Porter is a two-time California state place winner who will continue his collegiate career at the University of Indiana. After losing to Salas, Porter went on to win two more matches to place seventh in the tournament. Don’t be surprised to see a rematch in the finals occurring this weekend. 

A wrestler who has the potential to upset these wrestlers is Kyler Lake (Buchanan). Only a sophomore, Lake has been wrestling quite well lately as he placed eighth at Doc Buchanan. A wrestler that is eager to get back on the mats is Collin Hayes (Northview). He competed in the first tournament of the season as he placed second at the Bakersfield Rumble for the Rig after injury defaulting in the finals. He has not competed since then but should be ready this weekend. Josh Medina (Servite) is a California state place winner that placed second at this event last year. He will look to win a championship belt for the first time this weekend.

145lbs

Three Doc Buchanan place winners, a Reno Tournament of Champions finalist, and a California state place winner will battle this weekend for the opportunity to win a belt. The favorite here should be Columbia University recruit Jaden Le (Rancho Bernardo). Le advanced to the quarterfinal round of Doc Buchanan but had to pull out due to sickness. Now healthy, he should showcase his talent this weekend and show those in attendance why he is a future Division I wrestler. 

Logan Gioffre (Buchanan) shocked nationally ranked wrestler Fidel Mayora (Montini Catholic, Illinois) by beating him 3-2 in the quarterfinal round of Doc Buchanan. Eventually, Gioffre went on to place fourth. Antonio Segura (Regis Jesuit, Colorado) made history last year at the Colorado state tournament by pinning three-time state champion Theodore Robinson. The match went to overtime in a 1-1 tie before Segura slipped out of Robison’s grasp, flipped him over and pinned him just before time expired to create an explosion from the large crowd in the Pepsi Center stands. Victor Jacinto (Gilroy) was fourth at the California state tournament and recently placed seventh at Doc Buchanan. Keep an eye on Gavin Thammavongsa (Slam, Nevada) as he was second at the Reno Tournament of Champions.

152lbs

This weight class alone should be enough to get fans to attend 5 Counties. Chase Saldate (Gilroy) was on fire last weekend as he won the Doc Buchanan tournament over Flo National runner-up Mathew Singleton (Woodward Academy, GA). In the finals of this event, he should wrestle the winner of the Sonny Santiago (St. John Bosco) vs Tyler Badgett (Rancho Bernardo) match. Both these grapplers met in the third-place bout of Doc Buchanan with Santiago coming out on top 5-2. The match was tie 2-2 entering the third period until Santiago obtained the escape and takedown. 

A wrestler one cannot overlook is Trent Houle (Capistrano Valley). Houle was a California state qualifier that finished in the bloodround of Doc Buchanan. The bracket buster in this weight class is two-time Washington state champion Gabe Hawthorne (White River). Hawthorne is very agile with great mat awareness.

160lbs

After his outstanding performance last weekend at Doc Buchanan, there’s no doubt in my mind that Cael Valencia (St. John Bosco) will eventually become the top prospect in the country at 160-pounds, and soon. He should advance to the finals of the event and wait for a challenger. 

Those waiting to challenge Valencia included three wrestlers that finished in the bloodround of the Doc Buchanan tournament. Those wrestlers are Dereck Recketnwald (Green Valley, NV), California state place winner William Kloster (Lemoore), and Raymundo Raiz (Buchanan). 

Don’t sleep on Weston Lyver (White River) who was a Washington state champion last year. Trenton Munoz (Valencia/Valencia) has advanced to his section tournament on two occasions but has failed to get out. He is currently undefeated on the season with tournament wins at the Newbury Park Invitational, Hawks Nest, and the Ed Springs tournament. Also keep an eye on Marcos Jimenez (Evergreen), who was third at the Sierra Nevada tournament and has finished in the blood round of the state tournament on two occasions. Two wrestlers with state experience that should challenge include Neil Carter (Servite) and Tyler Sepulveda (Selma).

170lbs

Returning 5 Counties Champion Max Wilner (Fountain Valley) had to default from the Doc Buchanan tournament as he was suffering from the flu. Despite being sick, he was able to advance to the quarterfinals. I am assuming he will be healthy and ready to defend his championship belt. 

Two wrestlers who will be ready to challenge him are Rocco Contino (Buchanan) and Justus Scott (Green Valley). Contino, who was third at Doc Buchanan, was defeated by Wilner 3-1 SV in the semifinals of the Zinkin Classic. He can’t wait to get the opportunity to once again lock horns with Wilner. Scott is a two-time Nevada state champion and was sixth at Doc Buchanan. Valor Buck (Servite) is a California state place winner that finished top 12 at Doc Buchanan after being defeated by Scott in the bloodrounds. Other wrestlers that will attempt to win this event or get on the podium include California state qualifiers Zane Hake (Bellarmine Prep), Baron Gaunt (West Torrance), and Braden Smelser (Valencia/Valencia).

182lbs

Nationally ranked wrestler Nathan Haas (St. John Bosco) suffered a minor bump in his road to perfection as he placed second at Doc Buchanan. He should be the favorite in this weight class and should advance to the finals to win his first championship belt. Javen Jovero (Rancho Bernardo) should get the No. 2 seed and work his way to the semifinal round where he should meet up with Joseph Martin (Buchanan) in the semifinal round. Both athletes are California state place winners that met in the third-place bout of Doc Buchanan with Jovero coming out on top 3-2 with a late escape in the third period. 

Joaquin Garcia (Villa Park) is a California state qualifier and was seventh at Doc Buchanan. He should get the No. 4 seed and meet up with Haas in the semifinal round. Keep an eye on Tyler Avila (Porterville) who is a state qualifier and was third at the Zinkin Classic. Travis Wuerth (Hemet) was a California state qualifier who is currently undefeated on the year. Tournament titles under his belt include the Carter Invitational, Raul Huerta, and the Riverside County Championships.

195lbs

This weight was shaken up last week at the Doc Buchanan tournament as the #2 wrestler in California Tristen Wilson (Servite) failed to place. Last year, up a weight class, Wilson was fourth at 5 Counties. This weekend, he should be the favorite to win it all! Jadon Martin (Buchanan) who was a California state runner-up, also did not stand on the podium at the conclusion of the Doc Buchanan tournament. Nevertheless, he should meet up with Wilson in the finals; Wilson is currently 1-0 against him as he owns a 10-6 victory. Trevor Tinker (Doc Buchanan) was the lone place winner at Doc Buchanan as he was sixth at 195. He should play the role of the bracket buster and attempt to stop either Wilson or Martin from advancing to the finals.

220lbs

Up a weight class, Rigo Estrada (Northview) will be in the hunt to once again advance to the finals of Five Counties and claim a belt of his own for the first time. He recently placed seventh at Doc Buchanan and should be the top-seeded wrestler in this weight class. Caden Rodgers (Buchanan), a backup in the Bear lineup, finished in the bloodround of Doc Buchanan. Along the way, he defeated the Bear starter Jalen Peralta 3-1 before falling to Estrada 9-4. Peralta should be ready to redeem himself and prove to his coaches why he deserves to be the starter for Buchanan High at 220s. Keep an eye on Cyrus Wheeler (White River) who placed sixth at the Washington state tournament as a sophomore.

285lbs

The top dawg here is Nick Villareal (Gilroy). A Fresno State recruit, Villareal recently placed second at Doc Buchanan. He is fast for his weight class and one of the best upper weights in California. Ricky Perla (Los Osos) was a state qualifier last year and he still undefeated on the season by claiming titles at the Carter Invitational, Tom Bravo, and Brute Rumble. Isaac Lopez (Corona/Centennial) is only a sophomore that had a huge win this past weekend over No. 13 Arturo Ojeda (San Jacinto) in the finals of the Riverside County tournament. Jorden Benton (Villa Park) advanced to his section tournament but failed to get out and move on to the state tournament. He recently had a great weekend that saw him finish in the blood round of Doc Buchanan.

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