SHAFTER — Anthony Lucas would be a top-five wrestler in his weight class in nine of the 10 sections in California.
However, since the Liberty senior happens to be in the toughest section in the state, he is on the outside looking in with seven other wrestlers in the Central Section ahead of him in the state rankings going into this weekend's action.
Thankfully for Lucas — ranked No. 19 in California at 170 pounds — the rest of the field in section is in Division I, giving him the upper hand at securing a D-II title on Saturday at Shafter High.
That’s exactly what Lucas did in an 11-8 decision over Cameron Gonzalez of Paso Robles in the 170 finals.
In the first year the section moved from two to five divisional championships now with a week before the Masters championships in Lemoore on Thursday and Friday, the postseason now means better chances for hardware and momentum for more than just those from the powerhouse schools.
“It gives me confidence and definitely gives me a chance on stuff I can do,” Lucas said. “It doesn’t feel like it’s at such a high level where everything feels impossible. It’s really not. Every tournament is different. A title is a title.”
Golden Valley’s two D-II finalist came up short in the championship match with Dominick Leon losing in a 5-3 decision to Angel Perez from Firebaugh at 138 and Ernesto Machado was pinned in the first round at 145 by Brock Rogers from Corcoran.
Two locals secure D-I titles
The D-I field in the Central Section has seven of the top-ranked wrestlers in the state and 25 total that are ranked in the top-five in California.
While the end goal for all of these wrestlers is CIF State hardware in two weeks at Rabobank Arena, winning a divisional title is sweet, too.
Two Kern County wrestlers came away with gold on Saturday at Clovis North.
Trent Tracy, the 2017 CIF State 170-pound champion, beat Clovis’ Tyler Gianakopulos in a 9-1 major decision for the 182 title.
Bakersfield High junior Josiah Hill won by a 4-1 decision over Tommy Slatic of Fresno-Bullard at 285.
Four other locals advanced to the finals but lost in the final bout. Frontier’s Cole Reyes (126), Max Aguirre (160) and Ty Shepherd (195) all advanced to the finals and BHS’ Andrew Bloemhof also advanced to the 138 finals.
North wins D-IV title
North becomes the first Central Section Division IV champions as the Stars scored 200.5 points, beating out Morro Bay (191) for the team title.
Julias Mayall led the way for North, winning the 160 title.
“I couldn’t be more proud of this team,” North coach Brady Garner said. “We set a goal out at the beginning of the year to win a league championship and a (divisional) title. We were able to do that through hard work and a true team effort."
Other local D-IV individual champions were: Highland’s Michael Ramos (132), Arvin’s Valentin Marin (138), David Lopez of Stockdale (145) and Kern Valley’s Jacob Lightner at 285.
Four locals win D-III titles
Centennial finished the highest of six local programs for a third place finish at the D-IV divisionals at Santa Maria High.
Zach Wills led the way for the Golden Hawks with the 145 title. Chavez had two individual championships in Jimmy Macias (120) and Anthony Bartolme (126) and Garces senior Emmanuel Castro won the heavyweight title.
Perez, Eaton win D-V titles
Two locals won D-V individual titles at East High on Saturday.
In his home gym, East’s Ricardo Eaton won the 160 title in a 7-0 decision over Khashayar DeMartini from San Luis Obispo and Mira Monte’s Eduardo Perez pinned Visalia-Mt. Whitney’s Ruben Reynaga with three seconds left in the opening period in the 145 finals.