SportStars Magazine

SJS Masters Wrestling: 2019 Championships Preview

SJS Masters, Wrestling, Del Oro, Damian Elliott

With Three Of NorCal’s Top Five Teams In The Field — And 84 State Championship Berths Up For Grabs — SJS Masters Will Be Must-See Wrestling •

Del Oro-Loomis and Pitman-Turlock will litter the Sac-Joaquin Section medal podiums with place-winners, but the SJS Masters Wrestling Championships will be a two-team race between NorCal No. 2 Oakdale and No. 3 Vacaville.

Oakdale may put more in the finals, which could make the difference, but Vacaville is deservedly favored and enjoying a fantastic season. This despite graduating two state finalists and returning zero state medalists. The Bulldogs have the best depth in the SJS.

The section is also loaded with top-tier heavyweights. It’s why Liberty-Brentwood standout Wyatt Word, the No. 3 seed of the North Coast Section Championships, was put out in the round of 12 at the Tim Brown Invitational in January. I spy 11 tough guys in this bracket and expect some drama from the division. I’m rooting for undersized Levi Markey of Del Campo-Fair Oaks to spark another postseason run after he bewildered us last year by making the SJS Masters finals and winning a state medal. I think Lucas Cook (Lincoln-Lincoln) is another stud in this bracket. State No. 2 Mike Jeffus and No. 3 Justin Ramos are expected to make the finals, but anything can happen in this weight class.

SJS Masters, Wrestling, Mike Jeffus

Turlock’s Mike Jeffus enters SJS Masters as the No. 2-ranked heavyweight in the state. (Ike Dodson photos)

Elsewhere…

106 POUNDS

The top of this bracket is loaded with the likes of NorCal-ranked Andrew Calvert (Franklin-Elk Grove), Joseph Pia (El Capitan-Merced), Aidan Wilder (Grace Davis-Modesto), Kainoa Medina (Vacaville) and Danny Myles (Oakmont-Roseville). It’s all a race to see state No. 3 Brayden Abell (Oakdale) from the bottom half in the finals. Medina is a likely finalist but I think Myles is underrated.

113 POUNDS

Another buzz-saw in the top half with stellar quarterfinal match-ups of Damion Elliott (Del Oro — pictured at top) vs. Eric Almarinez (Vacaville) and Michael Torres (Oakdale) vs. Will Giron (Turlock). Israel Tubera (Pitman) is a likely champion here, emerging from the bottom-half. Quarterfinal or semifinal upsets by Almarinez and Torres could make a big impact in team scoring.

And here is where this weight gets funky. The top-half quarterfinals losers will also meet in the round of 8 of consolation. So since the SJS sends only six wrestlers to the CIF State Championships, it’s likely that only three of the four wrestlers highlighted above will make state. So either the NorCal No. 5, 6, 10 or 13 is missing a CIF qualification.

120 POUNDS

Isaiah Schanepp of Whitney has emerged to lead this weight class and settles into the No. 1 spot in NorCal rankings for the first time this season. This is a pretty straightforward bracket with an exciting semifinal opportunity in the bottom-half between NorCal No. 2 TJ Ruiz (Vacaville) and No. 4 Kai Niimi (Granite Bay).

SJS Masters, Wrestling, Isaiah Schanepp

Whitney-Rocklin’s Isaiah Schanepp is NorCal’s No. 1-ranked wrestler at 120 pounds.

126 POUNDS

This is a great weight for the SJS. I see four potential CIF medalists in NorCal No. 2 Evan Ivaldi (Del Oro), No. 4 Edison Alanis (Franklin-Elk Grove), No. 7 Adrian Heras (Turlock) and No. 8 Ceasar Garza (Oakdale) and they are separated perfectly to meet in the semifinals.

132 POUNDS

There are six elite grapplers in this weight, scattered 1-8 in NorCal rankings. No. 2 Henry Porter (Oakdale) was a CIF finalist last year and avenged his defeat to No. 3 Noah Mirelez last week in Div. III. Mirelez draws either Div. I champ Brenden Johnson of Del Oro in the semifinals or El Capitan standout Devin Holman (third, Div. III). Porter likely faces Ryan Elgarico of Elk Grove (second, Div. I) in the quarters and Div. II champ Jacob Peralta (Vacaville) in the other semifinal.

138 POUNDS

Kendall Frank (Elk Grove) was ultra aggressive in his overtime defeat of defending SJS Masters-champ Eli Blake (Del Oro) in the Div. I finals and earned a likely semifinal rematch with Vacaville freshman Ethan Birch, who beat him by a point at SJS team duals. In the other semifinal, Blake (previously No. 3 in CA) and state No. 8 Ricky Torres (Oakdale) should meet. The semifinal round here will be a must-see.

145 POUNDS

Seth Borba (Oakdale) drew praise when he upset Pitman’s Sammy Silveria at team duals. Expect a finals rematch here unless Vacaville can bag a dramatic win from Zane Martin in the semis. It’s another weight where Vacaville-Oakdale matches will greatly impact the team race, and this one could go either way.

152 POUNDS

This weight class belongs to Vacaville’s Tyee Ducharme. The NorCal No. 3 and state No. 6 is considerably more accomplished than the field, despite stout resistance from Div. I champ Haddan Khan (Franklin-Elk Grove). Expect the Bulldogs to secure plenty of team points from this bracket.

SJS Masters, Wrestling, Tyee Ducharme

Vacaville’s Tyee Ducharme will be considered a heavy favorite in the 152 pound division.

160 POUNDS

State No. 2 and NorCal No. 1 Noah Blake (Del Oro) is on a quest for the CIF title and should display why he is the class of the SJS here. State No. 9 and NorCal No. 3 Kendall LaRosa (Pitman) won’t make it easy, but Blake is likely to capture his second-straight SJS Masters title.

170 POUNDS

I’m not thrilled to see Bret Harte sophomore Kodiak Stephens (NorCal No. 3) in the same side of the bracket as Oakdale’s returning CIF finalist Gabe Martinez (NorCal No. 1). Unfortunately, SJS seeding formulas will deny Stephens a shot at a semifinals meeting with Vacaville’s Cole Chapman (NorCal No. 4). Chapman doesn’t have it easy either, with NorCal No. 6 Joseph Valdez (Placer-Auburn) in the quarters and NorCal No. 5 Sean Myles (Oakmont) in the semis. This is one of the section’s best weight classes.

182 POUNDS

Sophomore Donivan Giangregori (NorCal No. 4) has enjoyed a darling season for Calaveras and would thrill Mother Lode League fans with a finals appearance, but Franklin-Elk Grove senior Malik Lewis (NorCal No. 1, state No. 6) is one of the best wrestlers in the section and should cruise to an SJS Masters championship.

SJS Masters, Wrestling, Malik Lewis

Franklin-Elk Grove senior Malik Lewis, top, will open SJS Masters No. 1 in NorCal and No. 6 in the state for 182s.

195 POUNDS

NorCal No. 3 Cody Golding (Oakdale) won a tight match over No. 4 Elliott Houghton (Calaveras) in the Tim Brown finals, and they could meet in the finals here, unless No. 4 Peter Ming (Elk Grove) derails Houghton’s path in the semifinals. Because of two Div. I defeats, Kaden West of Oak Ridge, a two-match winner at state last year, drew Houghton in the opening round. Houghton also won two CIF matches last year. It’s the most intriguing first-round match of the tournament.

220 POUNDS

The NorCal No. 2, 3 and 4 are featured here and No. 2 and 4 could meet in the SJS semifinals when Kyle Richards (Folsom) and Justin Rentfro (Hilmar) are handed a bout. The winner will likely see No. 3 Chris Island (Vacaville) in the finals. Rentfro has been out of the spotlight since he won two matches at state in 2017, but could make a triumphant return to the postseason this year.

One Comment

  1. Wildcat

    February 14, 2019 at 6:24 pm

    At 152s…Hassan Khan of FRE beat Tyee Durcharme in their last H2H last year in post season.

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