Six Mustang wrestlers earned the right to make the trip to Bakersfield this past weekend to compete in the 2017 CIF California High School State Championships. Of the six, four of them placed in the top eight, including junior Colbey Harlan and senior Abel Garcia, who both placed second in their respective weight classes.
Making the trip to the Rabobank Arena alongside Harlan and Garcia were Ricky Torres, Jake Ryan, Gabe Martinez and Bronson Harmon. The half dozen grapplers competed for the right to become state champions.
Torres finished the tournament in sixth place going 5-2 over the weekend. The 132-pound sophomore made his second appearance at the event where he finished eighth place his freshman year. Torres won his first three matches before losing to Gilroy’s Alex Felix Jr, who finished third in the weight class. Following the loss Torres won two more matches inside the consolation bracket. In the semifinals of the consolation bracket Torres fell to fourth place finisher Chris Deloza of Clovis North.
At 145 pounds junior Jake Ryan made his debut in the state tournament. Ryan started off 2-0 but was disqualified in the third round against eighth place finisher Domonic Mata of Poway. Ryan’s day came to an end shortly after in the next round.
In a first round upset, Oakdale’s Gabe Martinez fell to Jace Lichau of Selma. However, the 152-pound Martinez bounced back with three wins in the consolation round before falling to fifth place finisher Erick Salcido of Rancho Bernardo. This was the sophomore’s first state appearance.
For the second time Bronson Harmon advanced to the state tournament. The multisport junior earned a first round bye and started the weekend off with two big wins. Harmon fell to the eventual third place finisher Aaron Olmos of Mater Dei Catholic 3-2 in the fourth round. As fate would have it, Harmon steamrolled past the competition in the consolation bracket only to face off against Olmos once again. Unfortunately for Harmon, Olmos defeated Harmon once again 3-2 in the consolation finals.
At 170 pounds, senior Abel Garcia made his return to Bakersfield and made the most of his final season. Garcia, who finished ranked first in the Sac-Joaquin Section, defeated Fabian Maldonaldo with a second period fall to start his impressive run. Garcia followed up with a 3-1 decision over Isaiah Corona of Hanford and then a quarterfinal victory over the eventual eighth place finisher Jean Lebosnoyani, 5-2. In the semifinals Garcia defeated Selma’s Christian Rodriguez 3-1. Garcia’s state championship run came to a close as he fell to Anthony Matanona of Palm Desert in the finale, 5-2.
Like his teammate Garcia, Colbey Harlan advanced to the finals on Saturday. Making his second trip to the tournament in three years, Harlan made a name for himself as one of the best wrestlers in the 182-pound division. Harlan dominated the first four rounds by earning falls over Trent Lindsey and fifth place finisher Nathan Tausch, winning 10-4 over Connor Aiello and 13-6 over Issaya Finley. He then took an 8-1 semifinals victory over hometown favorite Sam Loera of Bakersfield. Harlan’s day came to a close with a 5-3 finals loss to Anthony Montalvo.
“I think the nerves got the best of me. I have never wrestled in front of a large crowd like that,” Harlan said. “This was one of my best years and I wanted to give it my all. This was a great year and I will always remember it.”
As a team Oakdale placed seventh overall scoring 83.0 points.