SELMA — Year in and year out, the consistency of the Selma high school boys wrestling program can’t be ignored.
The team is currently ranked No. 2 in the state, according to thecaliforniawrestler.com, and was ranked No. 10 before last year’s California Interscholastic Federation state tournament.
How does the wrestling team continue its success? It could be to the team’s offseason workouts that start the week after the state tournament takes place.
“It starts by using the offseason,” head coach Sam Lopez said. “When the season is over in March, we’re already focusing on next year.”
Every year after the state meet, Lopez tells his team “it doesn’t matter if you’re the state champ, you took eighth place, or didn’t place, Monday you’re coming to practice.”
During the offseason the majority of the team members compete in freestyle wrestling and attend wrestling camps for team-building exercises.
Lopez said the tradition that the sport of wrestling has in Selma means support from the community.
“They’ve had family members that wrestled,” Lopez said. “We have a lot of alumni who come back and support us and want to watch us.”
When the team competed at the Zinkin Classic at Buchanan High School on Dec. 22-23, Lopez was asked “when is the rest of the town coming?” and he jokingly responded “it’s Friday, people have to work, they’ll be here all day Saturday.”
This season, the team is loaded with wrestlers ranked in the top 10 in the state according to thecaliforniawrestler.com.
Wrestlers that are ranked include Richard Figueroa, Tristan Lujan, Luis Ramos, Robert Areyano, Tony Mendoza, Jace Luchau, Oscar Diaz, Christian Rodriguez, Isaiah Jimenez and Xavier Moran.
Figueroa is the No. 2 ranked wrestler in the 106-pound weight-class as a freshman. The newcomer’s high school resume so far includes first place at the Bakersfield Rumble Rig on Dec. 2 and at the Zinkin Classic.
Lujan, a sophomore, is the No. 6 ranked 113 pounder in the state and has a first place medal from the Rumble Rig. He was also the runner-up for first place at the Zinkin tournament.
Ramos and Areyano are tied for the No. 9 ranking in the 132-pound weight-class, even though he has wrestled at 145 pounds this season. Ramos earned first place at 145 pounds at the La Costa Canyon Hamada Invitational on Dec. 8-9 and third at the Rumble Rig. Areyano placed first at both tournaments at 138 pounds.
Mendoza is ranked No. 2 at 138 pounds and placed second at the Rumble Rig and sixth at the Zinkin as a 145-pounder.
Luchau is No. 6 at 152 pounds with a first-place medal at the Zinkin tourney and placed third at the Rumble Rig.
Diaz is No. 3 at 160 pounds. Rodriguez is No. 1 at 170 pounds, and Jimenez (195 pounds) and Xavier Moran (285) are ranked No. 10 in their weight classes.
Rodriguez took first place at the Zinkin tourney and Jimenez placed fourth in the same tournament. Jimenez took first place at the Dennis Deliddo tournament in Lemoore on Dec. 20.
With many of its top wrestlers having successful seasons, there’s no question that Selma could contend for a state title in March. Lopez said it's one of the program’s “strongest” rosters.
A team that the Bears must conquer is two-time reigning state champion Buchanan - the top ranked team in the state.
“Our kids are up to the challenge,” Lopez said. “It comes down to those tight matches of who wants it more… a lot things have to go right.”
Note: All rankings were from Dec. 21, 2017 and were updated on Jan. 3, 2018.