Bakersfield College wrestling is headed into the most important weekend of the year. The Renegades will take 10 wrestlers (nine qualifiers and one alternate) — the most head coach Brett Clark and his staff have ever brought — to the CCCAA State Wrestling Championship, which starts Friday at Cerritos College.
Here’s a breakdown of each of the BC wrestlers with state championship hopes:
Marcus Hutcherson, sophomore, 125 pounds
Hutcherson, a West High graduate, came back to Bakersfield after a year at Chadron State College, a Division II school in Nebraska. He didn’t qualify for nationals at Chadron so he considers the state tournament a big deal. He missed more than a month this season because of a torn ligament in his shoulder. Hutcherson took first at the southern regional.
Clark: “Marcus is doing really well. He had been in the finals of a couple tournaments, started dropping off, got hurt, was out and everybody kind of forgot about him.”
Keithen Estrada, freshman, 125 pounds
The East Bakersfield High grad took fourth at the Southern Regional and is stuck on the same side of the bracket as Hutcherson. If all goes well, the two will meet in the semifinal round.
Clark: “I was just hoping he would get in. I knew what kind of wrestler he is and he hasn’t shown it all year. He shows it in the room and then we get to the tournament, it’s somebody different and he showed it this weekend (at regionals). He upset the No. 1 seed in the second round and he broke the kid.”
Jared Callison, freshman, 133 pounds
Callison has had bad luck recently at state tournaments, considering he tore his ACL as a junior and broke his collarbone his senior year at Monache High School. He took sixth at the Southern Regional.
Clark: “Callison’s one move away from pinning everybody. And he’s also one move away from being on his own back because he puts himself in danger, but that’s just how he’s wrestling.”
Izaiah Ozuna, freshman, 141 pounds
Ozuna wrestled for Simpson University, an NAIA school in Redding, in 2014. He took fifth at the Southern Regional.
Clark: “He’s right there and he’s a move away.”
Emmett Kuntz, sophomore, 149 pounds
Kuntz, a Highland alumnus, took fifth at regionals. He made it to the semifinals last season before injury defaulting to sixth place because of a concussion.
Clark: “He’s a goer. He sometimes gets in his own head. Beginning of the year was a struggle because he had really high expectations, ‘I should be the No. 1 guy in the state,’ and he took some lumps early and it wears on you.”
Kevin Mello, redshirt sophomore, 165 pounds
Mello has been with BC for a few years after graduating from North High School. He made the commitment and cut the weight this year, finishing sixth at regionals.
Clark: “He’s got to win his first one and then gets the No. 2-ranked kid in the state, who we haven’t wrestled, and that kid’s a powerhouse. But that kid struggles with his weight. That’s going to be his first match. How is he gonna be in his first match? If we can take him into open waters, can we break him?”
Jeremy Maas, sophomore, 184 pounds
Maas, a graduate of Liberty, was ranked No. 2 in the state last season and finished fourth in the state tournament. He was sixth at regionals this season because of an injury.
Clark: “Maas has got it, I think, the toughest because he drew the kid that beat him last year for third and fourth. Forfeiting to sixth, that’s what happens.”
Adrian Godinez, sophomore, 197 pounds
Godinez, a Foothill High School graduate, won the state championships at 184 pounds last season but has bumped up a weight class this year. A concussion kept him out for six weeks before he made his return, finishing second at the Southern Regional. He knows he’s small compared to the rest of the competitors at his weight class but tries to use his speed and wrestling IQ to make up for it.
Clark: “He’s doing really well. He’s been in the finals of every tournament we’ve been in, I think. Is he really a (197) pounder? He thinks he is. I don’t, but it is what it is.”
Jacob Hall, sophomore, 285 pounds
Hall returned to BC to make up for 2014 when he did not place at the state tournament. The Independence graduate has bought a house, picked up a full-time job and started a family since then. Somehow, he found the time stick with a grueling wrestling season. He finished second in the southern region.
Clark: “He’s got a good shot to make the finals. I think he’s going to shock some people if he wrestles within himself and lets it all hang out.”
Alexis Becerra, freshman, 141 pounds (alternate)
Becerra is an alternate after taking seventh place at the Southern Regional. Becerra only started wrestling his senior year at Ridgeview, Clark said, when Becerra and a friend decided to go out for the team.
Clark: “He’s a kid that doesn’t have a lot of technique, but he’s got a feel for wrestling and you can’t teach that.”