The first week of competition finally kick off throughout the country in all levels of collegiate wrestling. Many California wrestlers participated in open tournaments with their respective teams or unattached. The following are some storylines of their accomplishments.
Michigan State Open at Michigan State
Cal Poly had five wrestlers with California ties place in the Fresh/Soph portion of the tournament. Placing in sixth place were Ben Martinez (125lbs), Dylan Miracle (165lbs), and Samuel Aguilar at 285-pounds. Aguilar advanced to the semifinal of his bracket before suffering an injury against Jordan Earnest (Ohio). Due to his injury, he defaulted the rest of his matches and settled for sixth place. Junior Fernandez also competed at 133-pounds and earn the fifth-place medal by pinning Ohio State grappler Nick Oldham with a second left in the first period. Winning the tournament was Legend Lamer at 149-pounds. A four-time Oregon state champion, Lamer recorded a pair of falls and a 5-2 decision in the finals over Luke Kemerer (Pitt).
Big 12 runner-up Justin Thomas of Oklahoma settle for fifth place after losing 3-2 to Eastern Intercollegiate Wrestling Association (EIWA) champion Anthony Artalona of Penn in the semifinal round. Both grapplers were whitin a match from garnering All-American honors last season. Thomas went on to drop another match to Will Lewan of Michigan in overtime. He won the fifth-place bout as his opponent injury defaulted.
Anthony Mantanona also competing for the University of Oklahoma found his way onto the podium after finishing in third place. After winning via a fall and a 17-7 major decision, Mantanona advanced to the semifinal round where he dropped a 7-2 decision to D.J. Shannon of Illinois. In the backside, Mantanona earned a pair of falls to finish the tournament with a 4-1 record.
The last California wrestler to place in the event was Michigan State grappler Christian Rebottaro. Rebottaro won three bouts before being stopped by NCAA All-American Matt Stencel (Central Michigan) in the semifinal round. In the consolation rounds, Rebottaro lost a 3-2 match to Gary Traub (Ohio State). He finished the tournament in fifth place by defeating Mid-American Conference (MAC) place winner Max Ihry of Northern Illinois via ride out.
Cowboy Open at University of Wyoming
Two California wrestlers were successful in placing in the amateur division of the Cowboy Open hosted by the University of Wyoming. Competing for the United States Air Force Academy Prep was Noah Blake, formerly of Del Oro High. After receiving a first-round bye, Blake won his first collegiate match via a 15-5 major decision. However, his moment of greatness was cut short as he was defeated in his following match by Drake Engelking of Northern Colorado 3-2. Blake recorded a pair of falls and a forfeit to advance to the third-place match. In his final bout of the day, Blake defeated R.J. Bingham (Unattached - Utah Valley University) 7-6.
Also competing for the first time in college was former Valencia High standout, Ben Gould. Competing at 197-pounds, Gould dropped his first match 6-4. Nevertheless, Gould won four consecutive matches in the wrestle backs and lost in the third-place match to Colorado School of Mines wrestler Nolan Funk 10-6.
Ethan Leake of Northern Colorado was a finalist in the elite division at 157-pounds. After receiving a first-round bye, Leake disposed of division II wrestler Jacob Wasser of Nebraska-Kearney 6-2, and then major decision fellow Californian Jerry Rubio of Utah Valley 10-2 to advance to the semifinal round. In the semifinal round, Leake rode out Trey Brisker of Air Force the entire third period to win 4-3. In the finals, Leake was defeated 12-0 by fellow teammate Jimmy Fate.
Sidney Flores of Air Force was the lone champion in the elite division from California. Competing at 125-pounds, Flores earned a 6-2 decision over Doyle Trout of Wyoming and then defeated Cian Apple of Colorado Mesa 15-0 to advance to the championship finals. In the finals, Flores defeated Jace Koelzer of Northern Colorado 9-4 by recording a takedown in each period.
Patriot Open at the University of the Cumberland
Vernon Willis Jr. made some noise over the weekend as he won the Patriot Open at 285-pounds by recording four falls on the day. After pinning his first two opponents in the second period, Willis Jr. pinned Brewton-Parker College wrestler Cameron Carr in 1:42 to advance to the semifinal round. After receiving a bye in the semifinals, Willis Jr. pinned NAIA national qualifier Ethan Bunce (Marian University) in the third period. In the latest NAIA rankings, Bunce was ranked No. 10 in the country.
Jimmy Open at University of Jamestown
Gerardo Jaime of the University of Mary won the second Jimmy Open title of his college career as his final opponent forfeited the match. An NCAA Division II National Qualifier, Jaime finished the day with a 4-0 record with his closest match being in the quarterfinal round versus Samuel Detert of Augustana University. Jaime wrestled for Steele Canyon High where he was a San Diego Masters Meet Champion in 2017.
Other California place winners at the Jimmy Open included Dean Arevalo of Minot State University (125lbs) and Oscar Nellis of Minot State University (133lbs).
Arevalo, an NCAA Region V place winner, placed fourth at 125-pounds. After earning a fall in the first round, Arevalo defeated fellow NCAA Division II wrestler Jeremy Leintz of the University of Mary 8-6 to advance to the semifinal round. Arevalo suffered an injury wrestling Lincoln Turman (University of Mary) and placed fourth after forfeiting his third-place bout.
Nellis kick off his second year of college wrestling strong by earning a 16-0 win over Isaiah Jasso (York College) in his first match. He then went on to drop his second match to Taylor Jeffries (Augustana) 5-2. In the consolation rounds, Nellis got the 28-11 technical fall over Logan Mahoney (University of Mary) to advance to the fifth-place match where he lost via a pin to the 2018 NCAA qualifier Brandon Carroll (Augustana).
The freshman from Gilroy High, John Fox was perfect in his first collegiate competition. He won his first three matches via scores of 13-3, 5-1 and 9-5. In the finals, he met up with Augustana wrestler Jebben Keyes who had pinned all three opponents he faced on the day. In the finals, Fox Pinned Keyes in the second period to win his first-ever college tournament at 141-pounds.
Princeton Open at Princeton
The lone California wrestler competing in this event was Nic Aguilar of Rutgers. Aguilar made a huge appearance this year on his way to the finals as he recorded four straight wins over EIWA opponents Columbia, Hofstra, Lehigh, and host Princeton. In the finals, Aguilar hard a tough task as he faced NCAA All-American Pat Glory of Princeton. The match didn’t go the way Aguilar wanted too as he was defeated 15-0. Nevertheless, it was a great showing by Aguilar who is only a freshman.
Pointer Open at Stevens Points
Sophomore Robert Areyano of Central College (Iowa) was hoping to win another Pointer Open tournament just as he did last year as a freshman. However, this year wasn’t meant to be, as he was defeated in the finals by the University of Wisconsin wrestler Dan Stilling 8-3. Areyano finished the day with a 3-1 record as he recorded a pair of major decisions. Wrestling is a little unique with the overlap between Division I and III schools.