Over the years the Doc Buchanan tournament has become one of the top elite tournaments not just in California but in the country. This year’s edition will feature 17 out of state teams vying for team titles while their wrestlers attempting to win the famous cowboy hat. The following are five storylines one must follow throughout the weekend.
Selma’s Richard Figueroa is on course this weekend to win his third Cowboy hat. He previously won his last two titles at 106-pounds. In 2018 he defeated Nick Kayal (Bergen Catholic, New Jersey) 5-0 and last year he pinned Jack Gioffre (Buchanan) in the second period. Ranked # 1 in the country at 113-pounds, the Arizona State recruit has been head-and-shoulders above the competition since his freshman season in high school. If all seeds hold, Figueroa could be facing a familiar face in either Joey Cruz (Clovis North) ranked # 2 in the country or his Selma High teammate Jacob Rivera who is ranked # 4. Either way, Figueroa is poised to make history as he is en route to become Selma’s first-ever 4x Doc Buchanan champion in 2021.
In this tournament’s edition, five wrestlers return with high hopes of claiming a second Doc Buchanan tournament hat. They are Richard Figueroa of Selma (113), Carlos Negrete Jr of Buchanan (120), Robert Howard of Bergen Catholic, New Jersey (126), Chase Saldate of Gilroy (152), and Giano Petrucelli of Clovis (170). As mentioned above, Figueroa will be going for his third-straight hat after winning titles in 2019 and 2018. Negrete Jr won it at 113-pounds after defeating Flo Nationals place winner Vince Cornella of Monarch, Colorado. He is up at 120-pounds and currently ranked # 2 in California behind state champion Tristan Lujan of Selma. Two-time New Jersey state champion Robert Howard was a champion in 2018 after defeating current Rutgers 125-pound starter Nicholas Aguilar in the finals. Last year, he was upset in the finals by the scrappy Mosha Schwartz of Ponderosa, Colorado. He is up 126-pounds, but we will have to wait and see if he is 100% healthy as he defaulted in the semifinals of the Beast of the East tournament. Chase Saldate of Gilroy is up two weight classes and has been looking exceptional. He will look to defeat # 1 Sonny Santiago of St. John Bosco in the finals and claim his second cowboy hat. Giano Petrucelli of Clovis us up to 170 after being a state medalist in California at 132-pounds. He recently shocked the field at the Zinkin Classic and he is now looking to win his third tournament title of the season.
The Bears of Buchanan High will be looking to win their second straight Doc Buchanan team title after winning it last year by 10.5 points over Montini Catholic (Illinois). Nevertheless, yesterday Buchanan lost to Montini Catholic in a barn burner of a match at the Gilroy Garlic Duals. The Championship team title will be open as we should see Lake Highland Prep (FL), Bergen Catholic (N.J.), Gilroy, Clovis, and St. John Bosco challenging for the title. I believe Buchanan is a better tournament team than a dual-meet team as they have the horsepower to send a few wrestlers to the championship finals and the rest of the squad could work their way through the backside. Don’t sleep on Clovis North who looked great at the Zinkin Classic where they had three finalists and two individual champions.
St. Edward’s in the house
One of the most successful programs in Ohio and the country St. Edward’s will be making their debut this weekend at the Doc Buchanan tournament. Since 1959, the wrestling program has produced 33 OHSAA Wrestling Team State Championships and 4 OHSAA Wrestling Dual Team State Championships - 2013, 2016, 2017, 2019 while producing multiple champions in the collegiate level. The Eagles have won five straight Division I championships and are led, Paddy Gallagher. Gallagher is a state and Fargo champion and currently ranked # 2 the country at 160-pounds. They are a little bit down but should have some of their top athletes reach the medal podium.
Toughest weight class
Besides the 113-weight class, I truly believe the 152-pound bracket will the toughest to win this weekend. The weight class will feature # 1 Sonny Santiago (St. John Bosco), # 2 Chase Saldate (Gilroy), # 6 Noah Castillo (Lake Highland Prep, Florida), # 16 Bryan Hepner (St. Edward, Ohio), as well an assortment of great wrestlers from the golden state. We should see great matches from the second round and on as many of the athletes registered in the tournament have state experienced. Yesterday, Saldate wrestled Castillo at the Garlic City Rumble and defeated him 4-1. Despite being the # 2 wrestler in the country, Saldate has the potential to become the top wrestler in the country at 152 after this weekend’s action.