High School wrestling in California has become a young man’s sport, and after a year where the Gioffre’s, Cruz’s, and Martin’s of the world became the stars, freshmen are once again poised to take over the spotlight. The incoming class is widely considered to be one of the deepest in recent memory, and the 2019 class already is being compared to 2018 (headlined by Richard Figueroa, Maximo Renteria, Ryan Franco, etc) in terms of potential impact.
As the season gets ready to tip-off in December, these future stars will be introduced to the world, and they will have a major impact on which teams win the state team title and make the national rankings. There surely will be many more stars who arise throughout the season, but here are the 10 wrestlers you need to know about right now. The list is in alphabetical order.
Cisco Cabrera (Buchanan, C)
The old saying “the rich keep getting richer” can be applied to Buchanan High as they will get the services of one of the top incoming freshmen in California in Cisco Cabrera. Expected to take over at 106-pounds, Cabrera was fourth at the Super 32 tournament and a Flo Reno Worlds champion in 2018. He should contend for a state medal in Bakersfield in his initial wrestling season.
Kannon Campbell (Buchanan, C)
Campbell hasn’t wrestled a match in high school yet, and he’s already drawing legitimate comparisons to Jason Welch (Head wrestling coach at San Francisco State) due to his funky style of wrestling and being hailed by insiders as perhaps the best prospect in California regardless of class. All of this for someone who is just 14 years old. A Reno Worlds Champion in 2018, Kannon showcased a combination of explosive athleticism, great setups with range and confidence that is so rare for someone at this age with such immense potential.
Sergio Montoya (Clovis North, CS)
Sergio Montoya is just scratching the surface of how good he can be. He’s a fluid athlete with impressive natural touch who can take down any opponent if you’re not prepared for his speed. He still needs to refine his shots. Nevertheless, father Sergio Montoya, CEO of Red Wave Wrestling, is sure to work with him and make him a state champion before his scholastic career is over. Montoya is very much in the process of learning how to leverage all of his tools. If he figures it out, he can be an immensely valuable wrestler for Clovis North High this upcoming season.
Beau Mantanona (Palm Desert, SS)
The surname Mantanona is synonymous with wrestling in Southern California. Coming from a large wrestling family, his elder brothers (Anthony and Troy) both are collegiate wrestlers respectively for the University of Oklahoma and San Francisco State. Beau earned double All-American honors at Fargo and should have a similar career or better than Anthony who was a state champion in 2017.
Maximus Martinez (St. John Bosco, SS)
In recent years, the St. John Bosco wrestling team has been known for producing great freshmen such as Aaron Pico, Cade Olivas, Anthony, and Zahid Valencia. Their newest incoming freshmen class will feature Maximus Martinez who is ranked No. 4 in the country by FloWrestling. A low center of gravity wrestler, Martinez was second at UWW Cadet Freestyle Nationals where he missed the opportunity to represent the U.S.A at the UWW Cadet World Championships in Zagreb, Croatia.
Scotty Moore (Gilroy, CC)
Two-time Olympian Daniel Cormier will get another top-notch freshman in Scotty Moore. Expected to take over the role at 106-pounds for the Hawks of Gilroy High, Moore recently competed at the Super 32 qualifier at 113-pounds where he placed fourth in a loaded weight class where Maximus Martinez won it; while Cisco Cabrera was third. Moore is a former Super 32 Middle School and Tulsa Nationals place winner.
Nicco Ruiz (St. John Bosco, SS)
Nicco is another top-notch freshman from St. John Bosco who will try and make some impact in his first initial high school season. He will have a lot to prove as his older brother (Nigel) was a two-time state place winner for Bishop Amat a few years ago. Nicco proved that he will be someone to look forward to as he won the Super 32 Qualifier by going 5-0 and defeating state place winner Richard Castro 5-1 in the semifinals and pinning top 12 finisher Damion Elliott in the finals.
Jacob Salcedo (St. John Bosco, SS)
It feels like Salcedo is just starting to learn how good he can become, but evaluators are already taking notice. With the extra help of Mr. Ruben Valencia and Jeff Anderson at St. John Bosco, Salcedo should elevate his skills and will likely only be the start of his ascent as a high school star. A close source told me Salcedo reminds him of a young Zahid Valencia, even if he hasn’t flashed that type of high-end athletic ceiling just yet. His ceiling is going to be immense as he continues to gain strength and explosiveness.
Jaxson Taber (Del Oro, SJ)
Taber is an awesome wrestler with great size and a rare comfort on all positions. He is an unselfish star who is always looking to get his teammates involved whether by cheering for them or obtaining the fall when the team needs it. He’s also developing great hand fighting as a part of his arsenal that could ultimately determine how high his ceiling is. His most recent success at a tournament was placing second the Clovis West World Challenge.
Sloan Swan (Clovis, C)
Swan is a big and strong wrestler, who wrestles as hard and as composed as any top wrestler in high school. He has the ideal frame and the selfless mindset to be the type of versatile wrestler that Clovis High needs to help them win a California team state title. He competed at the World Challenge tournament where he earned his third medal of this event as he placed fifth at 138-pounds.