SELMA - With four No. 1 ranked wrestlers in California, can this be the year Selma wins a state wrestling title? Bears’ co-head coach Sam Lopez said having four top-ranked guys will certainly help bring the program’s first state title in history.
“If they finished what they’re expected to finish, that puts you automatically 30 points a wrestler,” Lopez said. “That’ll put you somewhere around 120 points just with those guys and we have a couple of guys I think that are under ranked.”
Richard Figueroa (106 pounds), Tristan Lujan (113), Jace Luchau (152), and Christian Rodriguez (170) are the four Selma High wrestlers ranked No. 1 in their weight class, according to The California Wrestler. Figueroa, Lujan, and Luchau are also ranked among the best in the country.
According to Flowrestling, Figueroa is the top ranked 113-pounder while Lujan is five spots behind him the same weight class at No. 6. Luchau is the No. 2 ranked wrestler in the nation in the 152-pound weight class.
“Our expectations is to always win, win, win,” Lujan said. “We want to do the best we can, we want to go hard in the room. We want to win individual state titles, but we also want to win a team title at the same time.”
Figueroa, Lujan, Luchau, and Rodriguez all placed at the state tournament in Bakersfield last year.
Figueroa won his first CIF State championship last season as freshman and expects nothing less of a repeat as a sophomore, but his goals go beyond the state tourney.
“I’m trying to make another world team and hopefully be No. 1 in that,” Figueroa said. “Be the best in the world and just do the same thing that I’ve always been doing. Just keep on winning, practicing hard with my partners, go to coaches that I need to go to and help me be successful in this sport.”
This past summer, Figueroa represented the United States in Croatia at the 2018 Cadet World Championships where he took home a silver medal.
For Lujan, he placed fourth in the 113-pound division at the state tourney last February. Unlike last year, he’s going into the season as the top-ranked wrestler in his weight class compared to his No. 5 ranking heading into the 2017-18 campaign.
“It feels pretty good, but I still have a lot of work to do,” Lujan said. “Postseason is not here yet and that’s where it matters the most.”
Future Fresno State Bulldogs Luchau and Rodriguez placed fourth and third in their respective weight classes at the 2018 tournament.
Figueroa, Lujan, Luchau, and Rodriguez are all expected to compete for an individual state title, but sophomore Tyler Sepulveda wants add his name to that list at the Rabobank Arena in February.
“I want to be on top of that podium,” Sepulveda said. “I want to out here and show people last year was just a little sample.”
Coming into the 2018-19 season, Sepulveda is ranked No. 13 in the 132-pound weight class. After going 1-2 at the state tournament last year, Sepulveda said he knows what to expect at the state tournament after competing there as a freshman.
“I feel like I’m a lot more experienced,” Sepulveda said. “I kind of got the jitters out of the way.”
Other ranked wrestlers from Selma include 120-pounder Blake Estrada (No. 37) and 126-pounder Erik Rivera (No. 13). Lopez said he expects great things from Estrada and Rivera, as well as Rudy Garcia, who is projected to be the team’s 182-pounder, and newcomer Michael Rennovato, who is expected to wrestle as the squad’s heavyweight this season.
“I think we’ll be good at the end,” Lopez said. “We always start off the year like this, every year we never have a full lineup...which is ok, I’m more concerned about what happens in the postseason.”
This season the wrestling team will compete at various tournaments such as the Walsh Iron Man Jesuit Invitational in Ohio, the Zinkin Classic, the Doc Buchanan tourney, and the CIF Central Section Division I Valley tournament. This year, the Bears moved up from Division II.
One of the notable dates on the schedule is a road dual match against Buchanan on Jan. 22, 2019. That match will be a matchup of two of the top ranked programs in the state.