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Sac-Joaquin Section Masters Wrestling Championships Preview Sac-Joaquin Section Masters Wrestling Championships Preview
FORMULA FOR SUCCESS: Ike Dodson Delivers A Weight-By-Weight Breakdown Of The SJS Masters Wrestling Championships That Begin Friday Below is the most comprehensive Sac-Joaquin... Sac-Joaquin Section Masters Wrestling Championships Preview

FORMULA FOR SUCCESS: Ike Dodson Delivers A Weight-By-Weight Breakdown Of The SJS Masters Wrestling Championships That Begin Friday

Below is the most comprehensive Sac-Joaquin Section Masters Wrestling Championships Preview you will ever read — mostly because we are the only ones crazy enough about wrestling to write one.

With six of the 16 potential NorCal seeds to state on the line, we see value in highlighting the biggest favorites, the underdogs with greatest potential and ill-timed matchups you can expect, thanks to the SJS formula for seeding grapplers.

Get used to that word “formula” when it comes to the SJS postseason. 

Unlike a traditional seeding meeting that takes into account a season of results and head-to-head matchups to fill out most of a bracket, the SJS uses a list of certain formulas that prevent medal winners from last weeks divisional round from meeting in the same bracket half at Masters.

Formulas are painstakingly chosen for each weight class to try and separate the top four wrestlers as best as possible, but it’s a process that does little to aide the next best wrestlers in the bracket, and the process is also done before the divisional round plays out. So results at divisionals won’t really impact your seeding, as much as guarantee your qualification (unless of course you beat one of the top four and steal his spot).

A seeding meeting with all Sac-Joaquin Section coaches would likely be even messier, so it’s not like the section has a quick fix to formula complications. In the end, the formulas mostly just force matches that would be better suited for the quarterfinals, to happen earlier in the tournament. A bad draw is also not the end. For the most part, the door is still open for state qualification and podium positions through the consolation round. Two bad draws happens but they are pretty rare.


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So this year we took a closer look at what we consider a “formula folly” in each weight. Because, why not?

And finally, we also threw out some predictions for quarterfinal winners and losers, to etch a picture of expected semifinalists and wrestlers who will have to win back-to-back matches in consolation to garner CIF qualification.

Happy reading!


FAVORITES: Vacaville’s Kainoa Medina is ranked second in the state by the California Wrestling Newsletter and No. 2 in our NorCal Wrestler Rankings. He’s expected to win his first Masters Wrestling championship after a runner-up finish in 2020 and could see a championship rematch from last week in Turlock’s Ethan Ward. The bronze-medal finisher from the 2020 Masters has been electric of late, and will be seriously challenged by Central Catholic junior Victor Ramirez Jr., who was one placement shy of state in 2020.

UNRANKED BRACKET BUSTER: Placer freshman Leland Rodriguez was a surprising third in the stacked D3 bracket. He could continue his postseason charge with wins in championship or consolation, and stake his claim for notoriety in next year’s rankings. He should see D1 champ Nick Bulanin of Elk Grove in the second round.

FORMULA FOLLY: Atop the bracket, NorCal No. 14, Bulanin, doesn’t have any of our top eight SJS wrestlers in his quarterfinal bracket, and has a very favorable path to the semifinals (automatic state qualification). Meanwhile, NorCal No. 5 (Ramirez Jr.), 7 (Hoover) and 15 (Buchko) are all packed into the same quarters bracket. Two of those wrestlers should be elimination machines in consolation.

QUARTERFINAL PREDICTIONS: Bulanin (Elk Grove) over Elijah Solis (Golden Valley-Merced), Medina over Elijah Valencia (Merced), Ward over Nicholas Spotswood (Folsom), Ramirez Jr. over Buchko


FAVORITES: All signs point toward an epic showdown between NorCal No. 2 Tyler Riley (Vacaville) and No. 3 Isaiah Serena (Merced). It’s Riley’s first actual postseason, but he’s ranked eighth in the state and looking to make the most of his whirlwind of offseason success the last two years. Serena was dominant in D3, but he may see plenty of trouble from Kekoa Ogawa (Central Catholic-Modesto).

UNRANKED BRACKET BUSTER: Our two biggest bracket busters actually meet in the first round. Logan Thomas (Oakdale) and Brodi Herron (Bella Vista-Fair Oaks) have both landed marquee wins this year, but lacked the resume to make the final NorCal collection. Both are capable of upsets here.

FORMULA FOLLY: NorCal rankings would prefer to see a couple quarterfinal matchups occur one round later here, with Riley and No. 4 Tanner Stone (Oakmont-Roseville) poised to meet in that third round, while Serena and No. 7 Jagger French (Del Oro-Loomis) somehow aligned meet in the bracket’s top quarterfinal. The winner of No. 8 Jackson Calvert (Franklin-Elk Grove) and No. 9 Julian Sanchez (Ponderosa-Shingle Springs) is in good shape, but these two meet in round two.

QUARTERFINAL PREDICTIONS: Serena over French, Ogawa over Thomas, Calvert over Aidan Wilder (Grace Davis-Modesto), Riley over Stone


FAVORITES: The first non-Vacaville favorite is Del Oro’s Isaac Herrera, who beat Vacaville’s Logan Valledor in team duals. We should get a rematch here, unless Oakdale’s Eziequel Vela spoils the fun in the semifinals. Vela beat 113-favorite, Riley, in team duals and is ranked No. 5 in NorCal. Herrera holds down the No. 1 spot. Valledor is currently No. 2.

UNRANKED BRACKET BUSTER: Cody Roosevelt (River City-West Sacramento) knows what it takes to win matches at the Masters Wrestling Championships. He did it twice in 2020. He’s in good position to reach the quarterfinals, which will put him one win from the podium in championship or consolation.

FORMULA FOLLY: This is one of most evenly weighed brackets at Masters, with the top eight SJS wrestlers (according to our rankings) pretty appropriately separated. We would like to see No. 13 Abram Ganados (Merced) and No. 15 Kaden Oben (West Park-Roseville) in a little better position to make the quarterfinals, but that’s a little picky.

QUARTERFINAL PREDICTIONS: Herrera over Roosevelt, Jose Gonzalez (Stagg-Stockton) over Jeremiah Bertalotto (Turlock), Valledor over Ladley Merrick (Ponderosa-Shingle Springs), Vela over Noble Santos (Hilmar)


FAVORITES: Oakdale’s Michael Torres is the favorite after a Masters Wrestling Championships title in 2020 and should see Vacaville’s Casey Roberts in an exciting showdown of the section’s top two teams. Each is a returning CIF medalist from 2020 (both seventh).

UNRANKED BRACKET BUSTER: Ponderosa is simply stacked, and a competitive wrestling room has done wonders for freshman Kaden Martinez. It’s not the second-round draw you want if you are senior Talon Niimi of Granite Bay or the elimination round meeting you hope for, if you are the weight’s other bracket buster, freshman Brock Buak from Union Mine. They could meet in the round of 12.

FORMULA FOLLY: We are not thrilled about the first-round meeting between No. 3 Roberts and No. 9 Brody Deatherage (Oak Ridge-El Dorado Hills), but it’s a likely formula outcome after Deatherage landed fifth in an absolutely loaded Div. I bracket, behind four other ranked wrestlers.

QUARTERFINAL PREDICTIONS: Robert Lopez (West-Tracy) over Buak, Roberts over Niimi, Torres over Jacob Yang (Sheldon-Sacramento), Ahmaad Lewis (Franklin-Elk Grove) over Joseph Laird (Grace Davis)


Damion Elliott, Del Oro Wrestling
Damion Elliott works on a takedown of his opponent during the 2020 Sac-Joaquin Section Masters Tournament. (Ike Dodson photo)

FAVORITES: Damion Elliott of Del Oro is one of the bigger favorites at any weight after his runner-up CIF finish in 2020. There is plenty of talent in the bottom half of the bracket, so expect plenty from Jesse Cota (Patterson) and Qusai Marini (Vacaville).

UNRANKED BRACKET BUSTER: Oakdale’s Colton Silva dropped out of our rankings after some losses in D3. He could upset here, along with one of those wrestlers who beat him, Golden Valley’s Ian Thor.

FORMULA FOLLY: The top four are separated nicely, but some of the toughest matches optimally slated for the quarterfinals occur earlier, like Silva vs. Marini in round No. 2 and Thor vs. Elijah Montes (Gregori-Modesto) in round No. 1.

QUARTERFINAL PREDICTIONS: Elliott over Jarin Walker (Ponderosa), Montes over Evan Tabalda (Rocklin), Cota over Anthony Berg (Whitney-Rocklin), Marini over Joseph Insalaco (Oak Ridge)


FAVORITES: All day, every day, it’s Eric Almarinez (Vacaville). This year’s Sac-Joaquin Section darling has serious CIF medal potential and is an overwhelming favorite to beat Jonathan Hernandez (Oakdale) in the finale.

UNRANKED BRACKET BUSTER: Adam Lancaster (Gregori-Modesto) put himself in a solid spot by taking second in Div. II, and could find himself with a sudden decent shot at state in consolation if he stays tough when it matters most.

FORMULA FOLLY: We don’t love a quarterfinal bracket that will likely lead to consolation bracket designation for both No. 10 Dakota Stephens (Bret Harte-Angels Camp) and No. 12 Levi Bussey (Oakmont) at the hands of Almarinez.

QUARTERFINAL PREDICTIONS: Dylan Marlow (Lincoln-Stockton) over Christian Pebley (Ponderosa), Almanirez over Bussey, Hernandez over Lancaster, Connor La Rosa (Hughson) over Anthony Nunes (Tracy)


FAVORITES: One Vacaville monster follows another. Ethan Birch’s run to a first CIF medal after the car crash that spoiled his 2020 season is officially on. He already pinned his top foe here, Oakdale’s Brodie Johnson. Expect more of the same. Worth noting: Alex Thomas of Downey dropped from 160 to 145, and could be a surprise finalist in this bracket.

UNRANKED BRACKET BUSTER: Folsom freshman Preston McAninch was terrific in Div. I, where he took second. He has upset potential in championship or consolation rounds, and should see No. 15 Larry Borelli of Los Banos in round No. 2.

FORMULA FOLLY: No. 7 Ethan Boyd (Del Campo) is smarting from his loss to Johnson in the D3 finals, because now his road to state includes Birch in the quarterfinals. We would have liked to see Boyd draw someone like No. 11 Cameron Isenogle (Vista Del Lago-Folsom) in the quarters.

QUARTERFINAL PREDICTIONS: Shadin Carr (Oak Ridge) over Isenogle, Birch over Boyd, Johnson over McAninch, Thomas over Vaying Xiong (Sheldon)


FAVORITES: Franklin’s Ammar Khan and Vacaville’s Jason Brauning have not wrestled this year, but they have been on a collision course all season and should meet in a highly anticipated showdown in the finals here. Both won their division handily and can gain a foothold on a solid CIF seed with a victory.

UNRANKED BRACKET BUSTER: El Camino’s Mohammed Sarwary fell from the top 15 in NorCal after a tight loss to Vista del Lago’s Brodin Shaw in the Div. III bronze medal match, but he’s a tough potential draw for Whitney’s Shane Davenport in the round of 12 in consolation. He could find a CIF ticket with consecutive wins at the right time.

FORMULA FOLLY: The formula popped No. 14 Shaw into a second-round meeting with Khan, despite a strong Div. III performance. He should really be down another quarters spot to see Henry Ganzorig of Oakmont in a traditional 4 vs. 5 seed match, but the formula operated these D3 foes a little too far.

QUARTERFINAL PREDICTIONS: Khan over Haidyn Herrin (Hughson), Ganzorig over Emal Safi (River City), Brauning over Grant Anderson (Jesuit-Carmichael), Payne Perkins (Oakdale) over Davenport.


FAVORITES: Sophomore Carlos Garcia (Oakdale) could build his legacy here by winning this bracket, but he has some narrow wins over both senior Danny Myles (Oakmont) and sophomore Arun Nagra (Vacaville). This could be one of the tightest finals we see, regardless of the matchup.

UNRANKED BRACKET BUSTER: Logan Leckie (Vista del Lago) is looking for success in his senior campaign and could win consecutive matches in consolation to cause trouble. It’s also worth noting that Elijah Wade (Twelve Bridges-Lincoln) has potential to be the first Sac-Joaquin Section medalist in the new school’s young history.

FORMULA FOLLY: There isn’t one. The stars aligned here, pushing the most notable names into appropriate quarterfinals. Sometimes it just works out.

QUARTERFINAL PREDICTIONS: Garcia over Carlos Burns (Esparto), Carlos Meza (Calaveras) over Anthony Gutierrez (Turlock), Myles over Wade, Nagra over Leckie.


Masters Wrestling Championships, Sac-Joaquin Section
Oakdale’s Ceasar Garza, right, battles with Vacaville’s Thomas Sandoval during the Sac-Joaquin Section Team Duals Championships. (Ike Dodson photo)

FAVORITES: CIF gold medal favorite Ceasar Garza is the biggest name of the this year’s Masters Wrestling Championships, and despite matching up with No. 3 state ranked Khristian Dove (Franklin-Elk Grove) in the finals here, should cruise to a second straight Masters title.

UNRANKED BRACKET BUSTER: Golden Valley’s Travon Moore established himself as an SJS medal contender by beating Ponderosa’s Cameron Gott last week, and can rally to the podium after likely dropping via Thomas Sandoval (Vacaville) in the quarters.

FORMULA FOLLY: We are not crazy with the alignment of No. 13 Scott Beadles (Calaveras) and No. 15 Elijah Shaw (Bella Vista) in just the second round, but the biggest names are separated well.

QUARTERFINAL PREDICTIONS: Dove over Leon Tippett (Summerville), Sandoval over Moore, Beadles over Breyden Rush (Rocklin), Garza over Lucan Healy (St. Mary’s-Stockton)


FAVORITES: Football star Toure Hendrick (Folsom) got a late start, but he’s been solid, and should improve upon his one-win at state back in 2020. He has a real tough matchup in either Francisco Ochoa of Vacaville or Ruben Valenzuela of Central Valley-Ceres. Their semifinal should also be wild.

UNRANKED BRACKET BUSTER: There are not a lot of Div. V seeds mentioned here, but Rosemont senior Adam Wallin took down a solid bracket and could exploit a weight class that isn’t loaded with depth. 

FORMULA FOLLY: With so many possibilities in this bracket, we would have liked to see Div. II runner-up Eli Watson of Turlock slip into a quarterfinal that didn’t contain Hendrick. He would have been a good fit for Oakdale’s Jordan Van Rys.

QUARTERFINAL PREDICTIONS: Hendrick over Watson, Van Rys over Wallin, Ochoa over Hunter Hillier (Pleasant Grove-Elk Grove), Valenzuala over Connor Dasmaan (Oak Ridge)


FAVORITES: Logan Kuehl is the last of five Vacaville wrestlers ranked above all SJS foes in their weights. He has the biggest wins at this weight and should be well positioned for state, barring an upset from the likes of Jackson Burgess (Vista del Lago).

UNRANKED BRACKET BUSTER: Ezekiel Trevino (Golden Valley) showed his toughness in the Div. III tourney, and could make a splash atop this bracket on his way to a CIF qualification.

FORMULA FOLLY: This is a big one. Thanks to a semifinal defeat to Burgess in Div. III, Oakdale’s Brock Osmundson is suddenly dropped into a likely second round meeting with Kuehl. According to our ranks, that’s a matchup between what should be the 1 and 4 seeds, before even the quarters. It’s not ideal for either wrestler.

QUARTERFINAL PREDICTIONS: Derrall Sheldon (Granite Bay) over Trevino, Burgess over Francisco Marin (Tokay-Lodi), Andrew Cheney (Ponderosa) over Aaron Adams (Waterford), Kuehl over Colin Denny (Folsom)


FAVORITES: Nolan Frank is the star here after three CIF wins in 2020. He’s likely to see Oakdale’s Garrison Gerber in the semifinals and either Jackson Ramos (Vista del Lago) or Achilles Clarke (Pitman-Turlock) in the finals. Joshua Colburn (River Valley-Yuba City) could have the speed to win big matches here after taking second in Div. II.

UNRANKED BRACKET BUSTER: Oeiskie Louis-Cleveland (Armijo-Fairfield) is in Frank’s quarterfinal bracket, but he was third in the stout Div. II lineup last week, and should represent podium potential.

FORMULA FOLLY: We had Frank and Gerber aligned as finals foes, and they both won their division, but a formula has them in the same bracket half. The door is open for Ramos or Clarke to take real advantage of that.

QUARTERFINAL PREDICTIONS: Frank over Louis-Cleveland, Gerber over Colburn, Ramos over Jake Hall (Oak Ridge), Clarke over Alexis Islas (Franklin-Elk Grove).


FAVORITES: The lone returning Sac-Joaquin Section medalist, Manny Zavala of Sierra-Manteca (seventh in 2020) has a tough road, including Luke Levengood (Vacaville) awaiting in the quarters and possibly Declan Follette (Laguna Creek-Elk Grove) in the semifinals. Bobby Piland (Rocklin), Chase Nutting (El Dorado) and Ashton Patterson (Turlock) round out a stacked weight class where Patterson is the other likely finalist.

UNRANKED BRACKET BUSTER: Felipe DeMatos of Lodi has Masters Wrestling Championships experience (1-2 in 2020) and has already upset one of these ranked foes (Patterson). He could essentially out-savvy someone here.

FORMULA FOLLY: No. 15 Sam Hinjosa (Stagg) and No. 10 Follette should meet in the second round, and the loser will have a real tough road to state qualification that likely passes through No. 9, Levengood, who fell into the same quarterfinal as Zavala — despite taking second in Div. II.

QUARTERFINAL PREDICTIONS: Nutting over Piland, Patterson over Gabriel Johnson (Ponderosa), Zavala over Levengood, Follette over Zane Roeder (Oak Ridge).

Ike Dodson currently works as an information officer for the California Department of Corrections. Prior to that he was an award-winning journalist with over 14 years of experience writing about the Sac-Joaquin Section.

Ike Dodson

Ike Dodson currently works as an information officer for California Correction Health Care Services. Prior to that he was an award-winning journalist with over 14 years of experience writing about the Sac-Joaquin Section.

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