BAKERSFIELD - Selma High wrestlers Richard Figueroa and Tristan Lujan both finished in first place at the CIF State Wrestling Championships, which took place on Feb. 21-23 at the Rabobank Arena in Bakersfield.
Lujan won his first CIF State championship after earning a 2-1 decision victory over Buchanan’s Carlos Negrete Jr in the 113 pound finals.
Figueroa, who is California’s top 106-pounder, won his second-straight CIF State Championship after putting on a dominant undefeated run, with six falls (four technical, two pins). Throughout his 6-0 run in the tourney, Figueroa outscored his opponents 70-5.
“I just wanted to get pins and points for the team," Figueroa said. “I was just thinking about scoring and having the mindset that no one can take me down. No one can beat me.”
Figueroa claimed the 106 pound championship after a 18-3 technical fall victory over Buchanan’s Jack Gioffre. A week prior, the sophomore defeated Gioffre in the finals of the CIF Central Section Masters tourney in Lemoore. In January, Richard pinned Gioffre at the Doc Buchanan Tournament in the finals.
Figueroa’s championship run started with a 16-1 technical fall win over Nikko Beato of Rancho Bernardo in the pigtail round. In the round of 32, Figueroa notched his second-straight technical fall victory after defeating Jake Quintana of Valencia.
The sophomore pinned his next two opponents, Dylan Maples of Bella Vista and Zeth Romney of Chaminade, before advancing to the semifinals where he faced Brayden Abell of Oakdale. Figueroa defeated Abell 15-0 for his third technical fall win at that point of the tournament.
Figueroa finishes his sophomore season undefeated after going 48-2 as a freshman. According to FloWrestling, the Arizona State verbal commit is ranked as the top 106 pounder in the country.
Lujan, a junior, was the state’s top 113-pounder heading into the tournament. According to FloWrestling, he’s ranked as the country’s No. 4 wrestler in his weight class.
“This is what I’ve wanted since I was a little kid,” Lujan said about state championship win. “This was always what I looked forward to and just to finally have that dream come true, it was really nice.”
Like his teammate Figueroa, Lujan defeated his opponent a week prior at the masters tournament. Lujan defeated Negrete Jr 5-1 in the finals at Lemoore. The two also battled it out at the CIF Central Section Division I tournament, which was also won by Lujan.
At the Doc Buchanan tourney, Lujan lost to Negrete 3-1 in 113 pound semifinals.
“That first one was a tough one to swallow, but I just kept my head up and I kept going,” Lujan said. “I knew what I had to do and I knew that all that mattered was the state tournament.”
Lujan’s championship run was equally as impressive as Figueroa’s. The junior outscored his opponents 55-13 with four falls (three pins, one technical) enroute to a 6-0 record.
The Fresno State verbal commit started his championship run by pinning Roque Roman of Birmingham-Los Angeles in the pigtail round. In the round of 32, Lujan earned a 21-5 technical fall victory over Michael Bigler of Archbishop Riordan. In the round of 16, Lujan defeated Andrew Silva of Servite in 8-3 final followed by pinning Blake Fredrickson of Windsor in the quarterfinals.
Lujan advanced to the finals after pinning Christian Cabuag of Monte Vista Christian in the semifinal round.
Last year, Lujan placed fourth in the 113 pound weight class at the state tournament after not placing as a freshman.
Figueroa was glad to see his friend win a state championship.
“Tristan always pushes me. We push each other to get better in the wrestling room so we can do stuff like this for our town and our families.”Figueroa said. “I was excited that he won his first state championship.”
Lujan said that watching the performance that Figueroa put on during the tournament was amazing.
“He messed up everybody,” Lujan said about Figueroa. “I’m proud of my teammate, well, he’s more like my brother, I consider him my brother. We’ve been [practice] partners almost all of our lives. This season we were just pushing each other everyday and that felt good that me and him both won back-to-back.”
Figueroa and Lujan were the only Selma representatives in the finals and they were two of five state placers from the Bears.
Selma’s other state placers included Jacob Rivera (sixth place, 120 pounds), Jace Luchau (third place, 152), and Christian Rodriguez (fifth place, 170). All three wrestlers competed in the consolation bracket after losing in the semifinals.
In the semifinals, Rivera lost 7-2 to Clovis’ Brandon Paulson, Luchau fell 3-2 to eventual champion Sonny Santiago of St. John Bosco, and Rodriguez was defeated 6-5 by Buchanan’s Rocco Contino.
“The goal was to win a championship, but at the end of the day it’s also about wrestling the best you can,” Luchau said. “I wrestled kind of flat-footed in my semis match and the pressure kind of got to me knowing that if I win i’m going to be in the state finals.”
“At one point, I couldn’t get a take down or anything to win, but….I picked myself up, turned on a different switch and wrestled a whole different level of wrestling in the consolation semis and in my third-fourth place match.”
Luchau and Rodriguez will wrestle for Fresno State next year while Rivera, a junior, is expected to return next season.
As a team, Selma finished fourth overall while Buchanan won its fourth-straight state title.
Selma girls’ state title run ends
At the end of the three-day tourney in Bakersfield, the Selma girls wrestling team finished in a tie for 10th place, ending the program’s three-year state title run.
For the first time in four years, the Bears didn’t have a girl wrestle in the finals. Sisters Chelsy Mendoza and Melanie Mendoza were the only state placers for Selma.
In the 101 pound championship bracket, Chelsy Mendoza, a senior, advanced to the quarterfinals where she lost 3-0 to Sofia Martinez of Ayala. Chelsy Mendoza finished the tournament in seventh place with a 4-2 record.
Melanie Mendoza, a junior, advanced to 121 pound semifinals where she lost to eventual champion Adriana Lopez of Upper Lake. Melanie Mendoza finished in fourth place after losing 3-1 to Evelyn Calhoon of Menlo Atherton in the third place bout. The junior finished the tournament with a 4-2 record.
Former Selma Bear Jerzie Estrada placed third in the 160 pound bracket. Estrada represented Birmingham of the Los Angeles Section. Estrada won her second CIF State titles (third overall) with Selma last season.