Top 10 Southern Section Wrestlers from The Class of 2022
The class of 2022 produced a strong number of wrestlers that went on to compete at the CIF state tournament and even place at the snake pit. Many due to injuries or weight issues did not complete the season but had a tremendous regular season that helped them get ranked in the state rankings. We will look at some of those individuals in no particular order.
Ibrahim Ahmed of Palm Desert
An up and coming wrestler from the Southern Section that was triumphant in claiming a section championship as a freshman last season was Ibrahim Ahmed of Palm Desert. A very technician and excellent jiu-jitsu competitor, Ahmed was successful in claiming a Desert Empire League championship, a Central Division championship and defeating A.J. Silva of Servite 5-3 in the finals of masters at 106-pounds. As the # 12 seed at the state tournament, Ahmed finished with a 1-2 record. He should be a competitor that should find himself on top of the state podium this upcoming season.
Joaquin Arroyo of Calvary Chapel
Joaquin Arroyo wanted to keep the “Arroyo” legacy going by placing as a freshman just like his older brother (Luciano) did in 2016. However, that was not the case as he went 2-2 at the state tournament after losing to another tough freshman in Jake Quintana of Valencia/Valencia 3-2 in the consolation rounds to end his run at the state tournament. Both grapplers were 1-1 on the season as Arroyo had defeated Quintana 3-0 a week prior in the consolation rounds of masters. During the regular season, Arroyo was fourth at Battle for the Belt and second at the CIT Morro Bay tournament.
Fernando Barreto of Rowland
Barreto comes from a tough wrestling family as his uncle Camino Gonzales was a state placer as a senior for Chaffey High School. A projected state place winner as a freshman, Barreto did not let his supporters down by placing sixth at a stacked 106 weight class. After competing at both 113 and 106, Barreto chose to finish the season at 106 where he placed second at the Valley Vista League, won the Inland Division, and a masters title by defeating Chris Calderon of Esperanza 2-1 in the finals.
Yoshiya Funakoshi of West Torrance
Funakoshi put the South Bay high on the map after having a phenomenal season that saw him placed eighth at the CIF state tournament. He placed in five tournaments during the regular season while winning three. During the postseason, Funakoshi was a league champion, runner-up at the CIF individual tournament and fourth at the section tournament. Funakoshi comes from a great program wherein the ’80s and 90’s it was always typical to see wrestlers from West Torrance placed at the state tournament.
Abel Gaitan of Yucca Valley
Gaitan and his sister (Leah) were outstanding wrestlers for Yucaipa High. Leah became the first female wrestler from Yucaipa to win a state title, while Abel was fourth at the section tournament. During the regular season, Abel only suffered one defeat when he placed third at the Cerritos Tournament of Champions. Despite placing fourth at the section tournament, Gaitan was not allowed to compete at the state tournament as he was disqualified in the third-place bout and banned from advancing further during the postseason. He should learn from this experience and punch his ticket to the state tournament this upcoming season.
Manuel Gaitan of Temecula Valley
Gaitan was one of many Bear wrestlers that made Temecula Valley so tough in the lower weights. Competing at 113 and 120-pounds, Gaitan took some bumps during the regular season but found his rhythm during the second half of the season as he was a place winner at Battle for the Belt, won a league title, placed third at CIF individuals and fifth at his section tournament to advance to the state tournament. At the big dance, Gaitan finished with a 1-2 record to help Temecula Valley finish 21st in the team standings.
Luke Gayer of Calvary Chapel
Gayer was not your typical freshman as he competed at 132-pounds. A weight class not known for having freshman competitors. Despite that, He was triumphant in placing at Battle for the Belt and the always tough CIT tournament in Morro Bay. At the end of the regular season, Gayer was a league champion, second at CIF individual, and fourth at the southern section masters meet to punch his ticket to the big dance. At the big dance, Gayer completed the event with a 2-2 record after losing a tough match to two-time state place winner Giano Petrucelli of Clovis High.
Adrian Limon of Northview
The former Grapplers wrestler has been a blessing in disguise for the Northview wrestling team. Last season, Limon placed fourth at Five Counties and won a Valle Vista League championship by defeating Fernando Barreto of Rowland 7-2. However, his season came to an end when he failed to make weight at the CIF individual tournament. Nevertheless, he has been competing in the offseason and was an All-American at Folkstyle Nationals. He currently competes in Mexico and recently placed second at the Pan American qualifier.
Zach Parker of Fountain Valley
Parker showed a lot of heart during his first season of high school wrestling by placing fifth at the southern section masters meet and punching his ticket to the CIF state tournament. Despite taking some bumps during the regular season, Parker never gave up or quitted the wrestling team. Instead, he dusted off those loses and wrestled in the biggest postseason tournament in the country at 113-pounds while going 1-2.
Zeth Romney of Crespi
The Romney surname is synonymous with the sport of wrestling as Zeth’s older brother (Zane) was a two-time state qualifier for Simi Valley during his high school days. We all knew of the potential Zeth had during his first year of scholastic wrestling. As a freshman, Zeth showed great composure on the mats as he was runner-up at the Zinkin Classic and Five Counties. In the postseason, Zeth was third at the master’s tournament and fifth at state after defeating wrestling nemesis Fernando Barreto of Rowland in the fifth-place match.