IOWA CITY, IOWA – The crowd inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena was treated to 11 matches from the top two high school prospects in their respective weight classes battling for top supremacy. The Golden State, arguably one of the top wrestling states’ in the country, sent three wrestlers to the event.
Competing at 113-pounds was Selma’s High Richard Figueroa, at 145-pounds Jesse Vasquez of Exeter High, and St. John Bosco’s Sonny Santiago at 152-pounds. Both Figueroa and Santiago are ranked No. 1 in the country while Vasquez is No. 2.
Flowrestling’s Who’s Number One, it’s on its seventh year, helps decide the No. 1-ranked wrestlers in Flowrestling’s high school rankings. None of the matches were a letdown as all matches were full of excitement, as all grapplers tried to get the best of the opposition.
Figueroa, an Arizona State recruit, wrestled Stevo Poulin out of Shenendehowa, New York, for the right to be the No. 1 wrestler at 113-pounds. Poulin a well-respected wrestler that has won two consecutive state titles has won a Super 32 championship at 106-pounds and wrestled at the Cadet World Championships where he finished in fifth place.
Right of the whistle, Figueroa shot on Poulin that resulted in a scramble with neither wrestler getting the essential takedown. After the referee restarted the match, Figueroa, with his cat-like skills, got the takedown on Poulin and even some near-fall points after placing him on his back to lead 4-1 on the match after the first period.
Choosing to wrestle on the bottom position, Figueroa earned the quick switch to go up 6-1. A leg rider, Figueroa punished Poulin the entire second period to end the third period up 6-1.
Entering the third period, Poulin chose the neutral position in attempts to get a few takedowns on Figueroa and get back into the match. Poulin was in, in a few shots with no avail. With a minute left on the match, Poulin had a leg on Figueroa and looked to score. However, with his Gumby like flexibility, Figueroa was able to scramble out of the position and earn a takedown to win 8-1.
Wrestling next from California was Jesse Vasquez. A highly touted recruit shooting for his fourth state title. Vasquez, a two-time Super 32 finalist, is being recruited by Arizona State, Michigan, Cornell, and Ohio State.
He took on Victor Voinovich out of Brecksville, Ohio. Voinovich is only a junior and a two-time Ohio state champion. He is also a three-time Fargo All-American and it is being recruited by Oklahoma State, Cornell, and Ohio State, among others.
With seconds into the match, Vasquez hit a nice shocked by to get the initial takedown. After letting Voinovich up, Voinovich got on a leg an attempted to get a takedown of his own. Nevertheless, the strong Vasquez used his tough defense to get behind and earn another takedown on Voinovich to end the first period 4-1.
Entering the second period, Vasquez chose the bottom position. Struggling to get the escape, Voinovich used a power half to earn two near-fall points and later the fall with seconds remaining in the second period. It was Vasquez's first-ever defeat via a pinfall.
The last wrestler competing for California was Sonny Santiago at 152-pounds. An Arizona State recruit just like Figueroa, Santiago was triumphant last season in claiming a California state title.
His opponent was a wrestler from powerhouse school Blair Academy out of Blairstown, New Jersey, in Travis Mastrogiovanni. Mastrogiovanni is a two-time National Prep finalist, a third-place finisher at the Walsh Jesuit Ironman tournament, and a 2018 Fargo Cadet Freestyle National Champion.
Santiago scored two takedowns to defeat Mastrogiovanni, 5-3. One in the first period, then another in the third while already leading, 3-2. While being interview by FloWrestling, Santiago was asked what motivated him to be the best, his response was seeing past Bosco state champions like Aaron Pico, Cade Olivas, and Zahid and Anthony Valencia.