A Look At Each Weight Class, Naming Favorites And Potential Bracket Busters •
Christmas comes to Stockton twice a year.
Barring any unexpected overweight mishaps at the Sac-Joaquin Section Masters Wrestling Championship, the best 448 wrestlers in the Central Valley — albeit for a few woeful departures — will meet on the Stockton Arena floor Friday and Saturday.
The SJS sends a NorCal best six seeds to the California Interscholastic Federation State Wrestling Championships next weekend in Bakersfield.
So, this weekend’s best show undoubtably resides in the Asparagus Capital of the World.
Also, No wonder the bathrooms are so pungent.
Below is a look at every weight class, with championship and semifinal predictions — and some dark horse selections who may be primed for major upsets in each bracket.
Lastly, if you hate any of these predictions. Feel free to buy me a slice of pizza at Stockton Arena Saturday, and tell me all about it.
Sac-Joaquin Section Wrestling Masters
The toughness of the section’s D1-AA qualifiers is going to be a common theme in this tournament. Look for a thrilling rematch between favorite William Giron of Turlock and Del Oro’s Evan Ivaldi in the finals.
Semifinal predictions: Ivaldi beats Evan Taylor (Folsom); Giron beats Jake Stone (Oakmont)
Upset special: Look out for D5 champ Brennan Dibble of Summerville and Oakdale’s Brayden Abell. They have landed big wins all season.
Caydin Wickard of Golden Valley-Merced spent most of the year at 120 and is nearly unstoppable at 113. He should cruise to gold here.
Semifinal predictions: Wickard beats T.J. Ruiz (Vacaville); Keanu Perez (Sonora) beats Dallas Stevens (Del Oro)
Upset special: Clayton Bashor of Oakdale has a huge quarterfinal showdown with Ruiz and could snare valuable team points with a win.
Bound for a state medal, Henry Porter is a freshman favorite here. His wrestling lineage dates back to legends of Hughson, but he will craft his own story in Oakdale.
Semifinal predictions: Jacob Peralta (Vacaville) beats Brenden Johnson (Del Oro); Porter beats Kai Niimi (Granite Bay)
Upset special: Johnson dropped a weight for the postseason and could use his wiry frame to score big points on top.
Angelo Martinoni of Folsom has enjoyed one of the best seasons of any SJS wrestler and should beat Lokhai Tonge of Elk Grove in a finals rematch (Tim Brown).
Semifinal predictions: Tonge beats Devin Holman (El Capitan-Merced); Martinoni beats Leem Kue (Buhach Colony-Atwater)
Upset special: Teague Dilbeck of Granite Bay and Cole Kachmer of Whitney both got raw deals in pairings (Tonge and Martinoni), but should wreck havoc in consolation.
This is a tough weight to call, but Eli Blake of Del Oro and Oak Ridge’s Jared Horstman are probably 1-2 here, despite Horstman’s upset loss to Pittman’s Samual Silveria last week.
Semifinal predictions: Horstman beats Donny Fontillas (Ripon); Blake beats Noah Mirelez (Patterson).
Upset special: Silveria could be the real deal in the top half of this bracket, or that honor could be owned by Vacaville’s Zane Martin.
Another team showdown looms here between Vacaville’s Lawrence Saenz and Oakdale’s Ricky Torres. Saenz won the last meeting and is favored here.
Semifinal predictions: Saenz beats Riley Boutain (Benicia); Torres beats Mikey Mello (Oak Ridge)
Upset special: Look out for both Boutain and Mello here. This bracket may showcase the toughest top-4 in the tournament.
Oakdale’s Jake Ryan is among California’s best, and should cruise to win this bracket.
Semifinal predictions: Jackson Redhair (Oak Ridge) beats Nahele Tonge (Elk Grove); Ryan beats Eric Santos (Benicia)
Upset special: Tonge dropped from finals contention last week by defaulting through the D1-A bracket but he’s a MidCals finalist and shouldn’t be overlooked.
Del Oro’s JT Stinson is favored to topple Omar Ramos of Golden Valley in an all-D1-AA finale here. This is also the deepest weight in the section.
Semifinal predictions: Ramos beats Manny Curry (Pleasant Grove); Stinson beats Velasquez (Pacheco)
Upset special: Conrad Trevino of Del Campo reached the finals of the Tim Brown and could finish as high as third with enough upset wins. Patrick Garcia of Modesto Christian is tough here too.
Noah Blake of Del Oro is the heavy favorite here. His cardio is superb and he never stops working.
Semifinal predictions: Cole Chapman (Vacaville) beats Caleb Humbird (Ponderosa-Shingle Springs); Blake beats Carson Gause (Elk Grove)
Upset special: Humbird and stocky Benjamin Switzer of Woodcreek are capable of rolling up wins in this bracket. The two should meet in quarterfinals.
Oakdale’s quest for a team title will be reliant on wrestlers like Gabe Martinez, who could score a win over Vacaville on his path to gold.
Semifinal predictions: Martinez beats Peter Ming (Elk Grove); Matt Yang (Bella Vista-Fair Oaks) beats Hunter Gonzalez (Rocklin)
Upset special: Gonzalez has the tools to win this bracket if he wrestles at his best. Also look out for his SFL rival, Nolan Stabbert of Granite Bay.
In another showcase of D1-AA dominance, Kyle Richards of Folsom and Brock Jeffus of Turlock should enjoy a finals rematch of Richard’s triumph last week.
Semifinal predictions: Richards beats Kyle West (Oak Ridge); Jeffus beats Cody Golding (Oakdale)
Upset special: After waiting in the wings last year, Golding has emerged a state medal contender in 2017-18 and could shine here.
It’s likely that the only points Oakdale’s Colby Harlan surrenders at Masters will be charity releases from top control. Biggest favorite of the tournament.
Semifinal predictions: Albert Bicocca (Oak Ridge) beats Chris Island (Vacaville); Harlan beats Brenden Tallent (Pitman)
Upset special: Seth Puisis has quietly enjoyed a stout season for D5 Calaveras and could nab an upset and medal.
A year after nabbing a fourth-place state medal at 170 pounds, Isaiah Perez of Pitman, a 113-pound freshman, is the favorite to win this 220-pound division after his return from injury.
Semifinal predictions: Victor Moore (Calaveras) beats Christian Cornes (Whitney-Rocklin); Perez beats Dylan Amos (Casa Roble-Orangevale).
Upset special: Look out for Placer-Auburn’s Paul Banks. The D4 champ is built like an ox and will be tough to move.
Lots of talent here, but Jake Levengood of Vacaville owns this bracket and should pin his way through it for monster team scoring.
Semifinal predictions: Levengood beats Jayson Reindel (East Union); Ryan Higgenbothen (Modesto Christian) beats Justin Ramos (Vista del Lago)
Upset special: This bracket is destined for upsets. Mike Jeffus (Turlock), Lucas Gramlick (American Canyon) and Igor Banner (Foothill) could all muscle their way into the semifinals.