BAKERSFIELD – The CIF State Wrestling Championships kicked off with the predictable drama, highs and lows and even an appearance from an actor who stumped the kids.
Frank Jasper should have drawn blanks from the teen-agers, but the older set smiled and nodded.
“Three or four generations have gone by,” admitted Jasper, better known to the wrestling crowd as Brian Shute, the menacing mat star in the 1985 prep wrestling classic, “Vision Quest.”
Jasper appears at such events these days, though none of Thursday’s entries were close to taking their first breaths when Shute and Matthew Modine’s Louden Swain collided for celluloid glory.
When Johansen heavyweight Attila Sides was asked if had seen the movie, he said, “No.”
Sides, not impressed by actors before his time, made a name for himself under the Mechanics Bank Arena lights. He’s ranked 27th in the state, which means he wasn’t supposed to pin two opponents and perform creditably before losing via fall to 2019 state runner-up Nicholas Villarreal of Gilroy.
Then again, Sides’ fourth at last week’s Sac-Joaquin Section Masters was a surprise. The senior, who qualified for state for the first time, is a 255-pound poster child for underdogs who keep at it.
“All the times I wanted to quit, my coaches pushed me harder, especially this year,” Sides said. “Looking at the video of when I was a freshman, it was surprising how better I got.”
Sides faces a potentially busy Friday in consolation. In a format change over last year – the first time the meet went coed – only championship-bracket matches were contested the first day.
The girls and boys campaigned through the first two rounds, leaving 17 regional standouts without a loss and awaiting Friday afternoon’s quarterfinals.
One of them was Pitman sophomore and 2019 state champion Lillian Freitas (150), who needed only 1:03 to dispatch two opponents.
Also seeded No. 1 in her flight was Central Catholic senior Faalia Martinez (137), who burnished her credentials with a pair of wins. Martinez is the sister of Oakdale’s 2018 state finalist Gabe Martinez.
“I don’t look at the brackets,” said Martinez, who earned a third-place medal here a year ago. “I just go out there and wrestle. Whoever is out there is out there.”
For nearly everyone else, there were thrills.
Turlock senior Adrian Heras (132), the area’s only wrestler to win three matches in competition, closed with a wild 17-12 victory over Gabriel Schumm of Citrus Hill.
All Heras did was rally from a 6-1 deficit and, at 12-12 with less than 10 seconds left, brazenly threw his opponent for a takedown and near-fall. When it was over, he gazed skyward in relief.
“I was ready to have a heart attack,” Turlock coach Mike Contreras said. “Luckily, he nailed that throw.”
It wasn’t Contreras’ first nervous moment. Before lunch, Turlock senior Hailey Ward – the four-time Masters champion and three-time state medalist– allowed a late takedown and headed into overtime 2-2 vs. Jayden Von Moos of Paloma Valley. Ward’s experience paid off in a quick two points for the win.
“I wasn’t that nervous. I knew I could do it,” Ward said. “There are no easy matches. You never want to under-estimate anyone. Everyone is good here.”
Freitas, Ward, Martinez and Heras join fellow quarterfinalists Lilly Avalos of Pitman (106), Lexy Beadles of Calaveras (111), Alana Ontiveros of Pitman (137,) Kalila Shrive of West (160), Valerie Osborne of Oakdale (170), Alexa Garcia of Sierra (189), Michael Torres of Oakdale (106), Brayden Abell of Oakdale (113), Izzy Tubera of Pitman (120), Ceasar Garza of Oakdale (145), Kendall LaRosa of Pitman (160), Kodiak Stephens of Bret Harte (182) and Juan Mora of Pitman (220).
They’ll be time for the wrestlers to catch up with Vision Quest. Next week.