Time for one last good look.
Golden West’s 12th annual Central Valley Invitational on Saturday represents the final installment of a month-long series of Tulare County wrestling tournaments. It also marks the second to last weekend before the start of California’s grueling month-long individual playoff format, the road to the CIF State Championships at Rabobank Arena in Bakersfield held March 6-7.
With this being the last mass gathering of Tulare County wrestlers, it serves the last significant chance outside of the final few duals to jockey for seeding positions in the upcoming league tournaments. At this point in the season most wrestlers are finally cut down to the weight they plan to wrestle at during the postseason, so many of this weekend’s head-to-head matches between league rivals will carry big weight into February.
The usual suspects will all be there: defending champion Redwood, Granite Hills, Mission Oak, Tulare Union, Tulare Western and, of course, Golden West. Also keeping to tradition is El Diamante making its first appearance of the season in the series of Tulare County tournaments.
Mt. Whitney leads a list of additions to this year’s tournament that includes Monache, Woodlake and Farmersville along with five out-of-area teams.
Wrestling starts at 9 a.m. with the finals expected to start around 3 p.m.
A few upcoming events local wrestling fans won’t want to miss.
• Mission Oak at Porterville, Tuesday: A makeup the East Yosemite League dual that was postponed on Jan. 15. With a win over Monache already in the book, the Hawks can move into prime position for their first ever EYL title.
Mission Oak had this same opportunity last year after opening the league dual season with a win over Porterville, but turned around with a loss to Monache and a flop at the league tournament.
Most of the big guns from that team are back and want to make sure history doesn’t repeat itself. Unlike last year’s upstart underdog team, this year’s squad is the clear favorite to unseat Porterville from its five-year reign on top.
• Porterville at Monache, Feb. 11: This one becomes even bigger is Porterville can upset — yes, upset — Mission Oak. Even if not, however, its still a huge rivalry dual that will put the winner in best position to overtake the Hawks for the EYL title at the league tournament.
• WYL Tournament, Feb. 12 at Hanford: Defending champion Redwood will be itching to avenge its loss at Lemoore to open the league’s dual season.
• EYL Tournament, Feb. 14 at Porterville: We find out once and for all if Mission Oak can finish off its title run as a front runner.
• Girls CS Masters, Feb. 19 at Lemoore: Girls State is no longer an invitational. Need to perform here to earn a trip to the big show.
• Yosemite Divisionals, Feb. 20-21 at Lemoore: Considered the toughest leg of the Road to Rabobank for Central Section wrestlers. Just survive and advance.
• Girls State Championships, Feb. 27-28 at Visalia Convention Center: Visalia completes the second year of its two-year deal to host this event.
• Central Section Masters, Feb. 28 at East-Bakersfield: Devastating for the wrestlers who make it this far but fail to punch their ticket to state.
• CIF State Championships at Rabobank Arena in Bakersfield: The California Wrestler state rankings suggest Tulare County could produce as many as six state medalists between Dinuba and Mission Oak alone, and there are wrestlers outside that group who also figure to be contenders for the podium. It will be tough to match least year’s volume of 26 state qualifiers from Tulare County, but this year’s crop seems to be just as top heavy.
Cream of the Crop
It’s finally time to take a look at where the area’s top talent stands as they near the starting blocks for the Road to Rabobank. The dust is still settling on what weight class everyone will land in for the postseason, which requires some educated guessing on where to slot them for rankings. That in mind, here is a crack at Tulare County’s best wrestlers by weight.
106: Isaiah Perez (Dinuba), Esteban Bernal (Tulare Union), Josh Reagan (Porterville).
113: David Campbell (Mission Oak), Andrew Nelms (P), Jon Fisher (Redwood).
120: Lorenzo Delacruz (R), Jace Callison (Monache).
126: Jacob Delgado (El Diamante), Isaac Perez (P), Brett Villareal (R).
132: Jaden Enriquez (MO), Jacob Wright (D), Isaiah Torres (R).
138: Andy Alvarez (Granite Hills), David Del Bosque (D), Moises Arzola (Farmersville).
145: Alexis Carranza (P), Brock Dias (MO), Tyler Coker (Exeter).
152: Kyle Jones (E), Jordan Cisneros (D), Nino Gomez (E).
160: Enrique Padilla (ED), Dawson Boland (E), Tanner Jones (E).
170: Michael Wright (D), Danny Alvarado (MO), Josh Sanchez (ED), Matt Robinson (GW).
182: Jeffrey Kelley (R), Leroy Campbell (M).
195: Daniel Metz (GH), Grant Morris (Mt. Whitney).
220: David Padilla (D), Drew Maniss (P).
285: Dawuud Davis (D), Cesar Delgado (GW), Juan Magana (M).
Team: Dinuba, Mission Oak, Porterville.