ARCHIVE PHOTO: San Marino 120-pound wrestler Julian Flores, top, will… (Tim Berger/Staff Photographer )
State rankings would suggest a showing different than the one San Marino High freshmen Evan Wick and Julian Flores have in mind for the 41st annual CIF State Boys’ Wrestling Championships Friday and Saturday.
Wick, for one, is determined to out wrestle his No. 9 ranking in the state’s 113-pound weight class, according to the California Wrestler, knowing the rankings don’t always carry weight.
“I pay attention to them, but a lot of the time I know they’re pretty inaccurate,” Wick said. “They have guys ahead of me I’ve beat before and they really don’t change, so I know those could be modified and made a lot better.”
Wick has no intention of a ninth-place finish in state this weekend at Bakersfield’s Rabobank Arena Friday and Saturday. With a CIF Southern Section Eastern Division title and runner-up finish in Masters already in hand, the freshman is looking to win a state title, but to do so he’ll likely have to come out on top in a rematch with top-ranked Zahid Valencia of St. John Bosco.
“I definitely want to want to place higher than my ranking,” said Wick, who’s 9-1 in CIF this year from the Eastern Division to Masters. “I’m definitely trying to show them I’m better then what they think I am.”
Flores, who is ranked 11th at 126, also has just one loss in CIF Individuals this year. The freshman took first at divisions and third in Masters.
Wick opens state with Isaac Moreno of Brawley High. The winner will go on to face Kenney Jones of Lassen High. Flores begins the tournament with Brandon Vu of Rodriguez High. The victor will face Micah Perez of Central Union High, Chico High’s Jared Alves or Buchanan’s Jason Delacruz.
“I think they both are really pleased with their draws,” San Marino co-Coach Joe Gallardo said. “No matter where you’re put you’re going to have to face tough wrestlers, but I think they have a really good shot this year with where they’re at in their brackets.”
Wick has his mind on a possible rematch with Valencia, the 106 state champ from 2012, in the championship bout. Valencia, who’s dubbed the No. 1 wrestler in the nation by FLOwrestling.org, pinned Wick in the first period of the Masters Meet’s 113 title match on Feb. 23.
While it was a disappointing end to the weekend for Wick, he said it’s motivated him for state and now he knows what to expect if he gets his rematch.
Titans co-Coach John Azevedo said the loss could be a good thing, serving as a reminder for Wick to wrestle with confidence.
“That’s why Evan got caught [by Valencia],” Azevedo said. “He took a shot and hesitated, basically…. It’s just do what you do best and wrestle in all positions and don’t hesitate as much as possible. [Valencia’s] a good wrestler, if you kind of hesitate and think too much he’s going to have you on your back before you know it.”
“It was definitely a good experience because next time he meets him he is going to know him and know he can wrestle with that guy. It was a good experience, win or lose.”
Azevedo said a state title is on the mind of Flores, as well, but it’s important for both competitors not to look ahead.
“You have to go in there and wrestle well first and take it one match at a time, and they’ve been doing that well,” Azevedo said. “If you do that good things can happen.”