LOS ANGELES, CA. – California Grapplers went 6 – for – 7 at the Super 32 tournament finals on Sunday afternoon. Across – the – board, the Golden State saw a total of nine wrestlers place in this prestigious event considered by its peers as the most arduous folkstyle tournament in the country.
Advancing to the championship final were Jacob Rivera of Selma High (113-pounds), Maximo Renteria of Buchanan High (120-pounds), Chase Saldate of Gilroy High (152-pounds), and Cael Valencia of St. John Bosco at 160-pounds. In the girl’s division, winning individual belts were Nyla Valencia of Sobrato High (108-pounds), Katie Gomez of Birmingham High (123-pounds) and Cheyenne Bowman of Rowland High at 139-pounds.
Rivera got the domino effect going for California as he put a whopping on the # 4 wrestler in the country Nico Provo of Connecticut. Just as an artist takes his time to paint his masterpiece unto the canvas, Rivera did the same with Provo who earlier this year was a gold medalist at the Cadet PanAm Championships. Rivera got the early takedown on Provo and then added three near-fall points to go up 5-0 at the conclusion of the first period. An escaped point and a takedown added to the score as Rivera went on to win the belt with a 9-2 score.
The dilemma for the Selma wrestling team is where will Rivera fit into the lineup with the # 1 ranked wrestler Richard Figueroa competing at 113-pounds and 2019 state champion Tristan Lujan at 120-pounds. His only option is for him is to drop to the 106-weight class which will automatically make him the favorite to win a state title in the upcoming California rankings.
After finishing second at the Grappler Fall Classic Tournament in Michigan last weekend at 160-pounds, Saldate decided to drop to his normal weight class of 152 and showcase his talent. He did so with his flawless technique that saw win the championship belt by obtaining the 3-2 win over three-time West Virginia state champion Peyton Hall. Hall who at the time of this article is ranked # 3 in the country, was the favorite to win the event. However, a takedown with less than 1-minute in the first period was the decisive move than helped Saldate win the Belt.
The last champion in the boy’s division for California was none other than the skillful Junior out of Pico Rivera - Cael Valencia. A state runner-up last season to the talented Jaden Abas who is now at Stanford University and was a Super 32 Champion in 2018, claimed a belt of his own after defeating two-time Pennsylvania state champion Thayne Lawrence 7-5 in a seesaw match where neither wrestler wanted to give the advantage. Two takedowns and a reversal during the match helped Valencia acquire the championship belt over and help him win once again over Lawrence who Valencia defeated a week ago at the Journeymen Classic in New York.
Down 4-0 in the first period, Nyla Valencia knew she didn’t travel over 2,500 miles to get beat in a style she has dominated for years. With the eye of the tiger on her face, Valencia earned the 8-4 win over the # 18 ranked wrestler in the country (Abby Duke of Pennsylvania) in the finals of the 108-weight class. In the second period, Valencia got two takedowns and gut wrenches to earn eight-point as Duke failed to score any more points to go down to Valencia. Duke was a returning Super 32 place winner as she was fifth at 103-pounds last year.
Up a few weight classes, Birmingham’s Katie Gomez earned her first Super 32 Belt by getting the 12-2 technical fall victory over # 10 Jaclyn Dehney (New Hampshire). At one point in the match, Gomez was up 9-0 as Dehney was unable to penetrate Gomez's defense. Gomez was never really in any trouble throughout the tournament as she earned a fall and three technical fall victories before the championship final. # 3 in the country Leilah Castro (Ohio) was also in the tournament; She ended in third place despite being the No. 1 seed. With this win, we could see Gomez crack the national rankings for the first time in her young career.
The last champion for California was two-time state champion, Cheyenne Bowman. As the # 5 ranked in the country, Bowman is no stranger to national competition. During her run to claim her first Super 32 belt, Bowman bag a fall and three technical-fall victories to outwrestle the competition 38-3 and winning the event with a 10-0 win over Washington grappler Viktorya Torres. Torres is also no stranger to national competition as she was the 2017 USAW Folkstyle National Champion and has taken second at the Washington state tournament the past two seasons.