The field of high school wrestlers in California has been whittled down.
Seven individuals from San Luis Obispo County have made it through an exhaustive gauntlet. In doing so, they earned the right to compete at the CIF State Championships, which will start at 9 a.m. today at 10,800-seat Rabobank Arena in Bakersfield and will conclude Saturday.
The first step for each of the seven was placing in the top three at their respective weight classes during the PAC 7 and Los Padres League finals a month ago. Then, they had to finish in the top five at the 41-team Southern Section Northern Division championships two weeks ago. Most recently, this past weekend, the last checkpoint was placing in the top nine at the Southern Section Masters Meet, which encompasses nearly 600 schools.
As for the state meet, “There are probably one or two (heavily favored) guys that you can pick that are going to win their weight class,” Atascadero coach Jeff Spiller said. “But then with the other placers, it’s just up to how the tournament runs — who’s ‘on’ and who’s not.”
Here’s a closer look at each of the local individuals who made it:
Michael Clemmensen (103 pounds), Atascadero
Clemmensen has the highest statewide ranking of any of the county competitors coming into today, at No. 5 in his weight class by TheCaliforniaWrestler.com.
He placed third at the sectional finals last week thanks to a 4-0 second day at the event, finishing with a 6-1 overall record.
Clemmensen, who won a PAC 7 title this year, started his Greyhounds career as a backup at his weight class, but has steadily worked his way into becoming a leader for a program that has gone six straight years without losing a league dual.
Cesar Delgado (171), Paso Robles
Delgado is listed first in the honorable mention section following TCW’s top-20 rankings at his class.
On the last day of Masters competition, Delgado won his first bout, guaranteeing at least eighth place. He then forfeited further potential matchups because of injury and sickness.
Delgado is a two-time defending PAC 7 champion.
Matt Ducasse (189), Atascadero
Ducasse, also a reigning PAC 7 champion, is listed as the sixth honorable mention at his class in TCW’s rankings.
At the Northern Division finals, Ducasse was matched up with Morgan McIntosh of Calvary Chapel. McIntosh, the consensus top college recruit in the nation regardless of class, who has committed to Penn State, won by fall, but it took two-and-a-half minutes.
This past weekend, Ducasse went 5-2 to take ninth place in the Southern Section.
Elijah Jackson (160), Atascadero
Jackson, coming off of a third-place finish and a 4-0 second day at the Southern Section level, is ranked No. 6 in the state at his weight.
Much like Clemmensen, Jackson went 2-1 on Day 1 of Masters before coming back with the best showing of any local competitor the following day.
“A lot of it this week is just mental,” Spiller said. “The kids we had last week where they won four matches in a row after losing (on the first day) — that’s what it takes to place at the state meet.”
A four-time PAC 7 champion in the state meet for the third time, Jackson also won a title at the prestigious 70-team Sam Boyd Memorial California Invitational Tournament at Morro Bay earlier this season.
Dolin Mininni (135), Morro Bay
Mininni, ranked 20th statewide at his class, got to the Masters level by winning the fifth- vs. sixth- place bout at the North-ern Division championships in sudden fashion, pinning his opponent in 45 seconds.
He kept that momentum rolling heading into last week, when he took eighth place to move on to today’s stage, thanks to a 4-1 showing before defaulting because of an injury in his potential final two pairings.
Mininni, who won a Los Padres League championship, joined Jackson as a local title-winner at the CIT earlier in the year.
Stephen Trockman (171), Atascadero
Trockman went 5-2 overall at Masters to finish sixth in the Southern Section.
He’s listed by TCW at No. 25 in the state.
Over the course of this season, both Trockman and Ducasse have significantly benefited and gained confidence from competing against one another as workout partners, Spiller said.
Raul Uc (140), Arroyo Grande
Uc, who was ranked in the top 10 in the state for much of this season, enters this weekend at No. 14.
He opened Masters with a bye this past weekend, and went on to finish fourth. It’s the second year in a row Uc has made it to the state level.