It’s said that all good things must come to an end, and the ending to the 2022-23 high school wrestling season for the Granite Hills Eagles was indeed memorable.
With 11 wrestlers in tow (nine boys, two girls) to the three-day state championship tournament in Bakersfield, the Eagles had two wrestlers place – juniors Collin Guffey (second, 152 pounds) and Abram Cline (third, 106 pounds) – while recording a ninth-place team finish overall.
“Our team had a pretty good state tournament,” Granite Hills coach Jesse Sheard offered about the elite Feb. 23-25 mega event. “We placed ninth, the first time since 1986 that Granite Hills placed in the top 10 at state.”
The Eagles placed second in the team standings to perennial state powerhouse Poway at the San Diego Masters state qualifying boys tournament Feb. 17-18 at Mission Hills High School.
Poway finished runner-up at the state meet to Buchanan. Rancho Bernardo was the only other section team to break into the final top 20 team standings in 13th place with 50 points and three state medalists.
Buchanan, with 10 state place-winners, tallied 244 points to win its seventh consecutive state title (eighth overall). Poway, with eight state placers, finished second with 202.5 points – not exactly a gulf behind the state champions.
Granite Hills had previously finished second to Poway at the Masters section state-qualifying tournament.
Guffey, an Alpine resident, became a back-to-back state placer with his runner-up finish to state champion Beau Mantanona from Palm Desert after finishing fifth as a sophomore. Guffey, the Division II section champion and first-place finisher at the ensuing Masters tournament, was seeded second in his weight class at the state tournament to top-seeded Mantanona.
The Granite Hills standout pinned Clovis’ Samuel Chacon in 2:21 in the Round of 32 and followed with a 2:35 pin in the Round of 16 against Dublin’s Henry Baalman.
The competition got noticeably stiffer from there. Guffey recorded a 12-4 major decision over Northview’s Jacob Salcedo, seeded seventh, in the quarterfinals and recorded a tight 2-0 decision over Gilroy’s Maxximus Martinez, seeded third. Guffey lost by a slim 2-0 decision to Mantanona in the championship match. Cline entered this year’s state tournament ranked first in his weight class and was seeded second in the state tournament. He became a first-time state medalist with his thirdplace finish.
He shut out Porterville’s Zach Klarcyk with a 10-0 major decision in the Round of 32 and followed with a 12-0 shutout by major decision against Los Angeles Birmingham’s Henry Aslykian in the Round of 16.
After recording a 5-2 decision over St. John Bosco’s Sean Wilcox in the quarterfinals, Cline suffered a loss by 3:23 fall to top-seeded Clarence Moore of Branham to keep him out of the championship round.
Cline battled third-seeded Thunder Lewis of Clovis in the third-place match, winning by a 10-3 decision. Cline entered this year’s Masters tournament with a 26- 4 record with 15 pins.
Overall, four Eagles reached the so-called blood round – the consolation semifinals where the winner is assured a top eight finish and a state medal and the loser goes home knowing they put up a good fight in placing among the top 12 wrestlers in their weight class.
Carlo Arreola (113 pounds, Division II champion), J.J. Suetos (126 pounds, Division II champion) and Devon Wells (138 pounds, Division II champion) all finished with 4-2 marks in six matches in the boys field while Kyli Stanley (133 pounds, Masters runnerup) finished 2-2 in four matches in the girls field to earn honorable mention accolades.
Ryan Carroll (145 pounds, Division II champion) finished 2-2 in the boys tournament while Peyton Wells (160 pounds, third place Masters) finished 1-2 in the girls tournament.
“The boys and girls wrestled well,” the Granite Hills coach said. “I was excited to see them go out there and compete with the top athletes in the state. It showed them that all their hard work and dedication in the off season pays off.”
Monte Vista freshman Olivia Davis led East County mat women with a third-place medal at 137 pounds in the girls tournament after recording a third-place showing at the preceding Division II section tournament and first-place medal at the Masters tournament.
West Hills sent three wrestlers to the state meet: Ryder Dearborn (184 boys), Lance Briseno (287 boys) and Kayla Lim (128 girls). None medaled but all three represented themselves and their school well with honor, according to coach Mike Proctor.
“I am glad to share that Lance and Kayla both had two hard fought close matches — unfortunately, they each lost both of those matches,” Proctor said. “Kayla, being a junior this year, is looking forward to returning as a senior with her eyes set on a medal.
“After losing his first match, Ryder came back strong with two sub 30 second pins and avenged a loss from earlier in the season with a huge 7-1 win over a fantastic wrestler from Gilroy High School. Ryder was knocked out of the tournament just one match away from the medal rounds.”
The San Diego Section finished the boys tournament with two individual state champions: Poway’s Lucas Condon at 170 pounds and Brawley’s Robert Platt at 195 pounds. Overall, Granite’s Guffey and Cline were among 14 section medalists in the boys field.
The San Diego section totaled eight medalists overall in the girls tournament with Brawley leading section teams with a 12th-place finish. There were no individual state champions in the group, however.