7 first-round matches to look forward at the California state duals
120 – Damion Elliot (Del Oro) vs. Adrian Limon (Northview)
In Division II, sophomores, Elliot and Limon will be expected to lock horns in the first round of the state tournament. Eliot had a great freshman season that saw him place second at the Sac-Joaquin Section and was whiting a match from placing at state after advancing to the quarterfinal round. Limon was having a great season until the postseason when he was just a few ounces from making the 106-weight class. Along the season, he defeated various state place winners. Now competing at 120, both have been impressive. Elliot was victorious at the Tim Brown Invitational while Limon was the champion at 5 Counties. Their last meeting occurred as incoming freshmen in an all-star event where Elliot was the winner.
126 – Ryan Watts (Clovis North) vs. Jaden Gomez (Gilroy)
Both grapplers are ranked top 10 in California and this will be the rubber match. At the Reno Tournament of Champions, Gomez pinned Watts in 50 seconds of their match as he placed fourth while Watts was eighth. A month later, Watts returned the favor by pinning Gomez in the finals of the Mid-Cals tournament via a wild scramble that took place in the first period. Watts is coming of loss as he lost a tight 8-6 match to Justin Mouritsen of Clovis on Wednesday.
132 – Manuel Gaitan (Temecula Valley) vs. Jose Landin (Frontier)
A season ago, Gaitan punched his ticket to the state tournament as he went 1-2. Now, as a sophomore, he has been wrestling like a madman dominating the competition by placing 2nd at Reno TOC and 3rd at Battle for the Belt. Landin was second at El Cajon and Mid-Cals and he is a three-time state place winner at 113, 126, 145 pounds. Both are extremely athletic with great wrestling skills that will be looking for the opposition to make a mistake to score.
138 – Cade Lucio (Bakersfield) vs. Zane Stoddard (Poway)
Lucio has been a key component for the Drillers wrestling team as he has advanced to the California state tournament on two occasions. During summer, he was a finalist in the Greco-Roman division of Fargo. He had an awful tournament at Doc Buchanan but rebounded back with a sixth-place finish at Battle for the Belt. Stoddard has been consistent for the Titans by placing 5th at Reno, 1st at Las Vegas Classic, and 2nd at the Sonora TOC. He was a California state qualifier last year at 132-pounds. Lucio hasn’t met up with Stoddard this season. However, he is 2-0 versus Stoddard’s teammate Christian Navida. This should give Lucio a bit of an edge over Stoddard.
152 – Tyler Badgett (Rancho Bernardo) vs. Ceasar Garza (Oakdale)
A common opponent both these athletes have is Aaron Gandara (Poway). Gandara defeated Badgett in the finals of the section tournament with Badgett returning the favor in the semifinals of state. Garza defeated Gandara in the semifinal round of the Clovis West World Challenge, an outstanding off-season tournament in California. During the season, Gandara repaid Garza with a 3-0 win in the finals of the Las Vegas Holiday Classic. Both are ranked top 10 in California. I believe that the experience by the senior (Badgett) will be too much for Garza whose time to shine in the golden state will be here soon.
170 – Alex Hernandez (Poway) vs. Jarad Priest (Bakersfield)
If there’s a wrestler whose stock has gone super high this season it must be Alex Hernandez. Hernandez was a section champion but failed to win a match at the state tournament. This season, he was 3rd at Reno and has won three other tournaments including Battle for the Belt where he defeated Priest of Bakersfield 3-2 TB 1. Priest is a two-time state qualifier and was 7th at state at this weight class. Priest's other loss to a California wrestler was to Jared Martin of Buchanan when he was competing at 182-pounds. The fans should expect another tight match between these two solid wrestlers.
285 – Chris Island (Vacaville) vs. Jonah Schmidtke (Clovis East)
This should be a matchup between two wrestlers ranked top 5 in California. Island is an exceptional freestyle wrestler as he was a finalist in the Cadet Division in 2018. He is up a weight class after having taken second at the section tournament and finishing top 12 in the state. He has looked great this season as he has captured or made the finals of four tournaments while finishing with a 5-1 record at the Clash tournament in Minnesota. Schmidtke is a two-time state qualifier that has been 3rd at Both Zinkin and Doc Buchanan. Both athletes are very muscular and don’t wrestle like your average heavyweights. We should expect a high impact match to go down.