FAIRFIELD — History is always made at the CIF State Wrestling Championships.
Vacaville High is looking to make some history of its own.
The state championships begin at Rabobank Arena in Bakersfield, Friday, and two Bulldogs have their eyes set on making school history, as does Vacaville as a team.
Vaca’s Jeramy Sweany, the defending state champ at 220 pounds, enters the tournament with a record of 52-1 and could become the school’s first two-time CIF champ.
“I think Jeramy is ready,” Wight said in a phone interview from Bakersfield, Thursday. “I look back at (defending state champion) Beau McCoy in the late 1990s. I think he made a couple of mistakes, thinking he was guaranteed to win again. Jeramy has his expectations so high. Walking away without another gold medal is absurd to him. He’s very focused on doing his job and making sure his team is successful, too.”
Gionn Peralta, who was the state runner-up in 2013 at 106 pounds, has his sights set on getting back the final, this time at 120 pounds. If he finishes on the podium (top 8), he’ll become the first grappler in school history to place at state four times.
Peralta finished second at last week’s SJS Masters Championship, pulling out of the final with an injury.
Wight decided that it was better to get Peralta some rest before Bakersfield,
“We didn’t wrestle the match,” Wight said. “We injury defaulted. He has a hip flexer thing. I just wanted to give him seven more days to get ready (for state). It won’t be (all) better in a week, but he feels looser than last week.
“Trying to be a two-time finalist at any weight is outstanding. The lower weights are extremely difficult. He’s got some competition to get there, but he is capable. When he’s wrestling his best, he’s state-champ material.”
Other wrestlers at the state tournament for the Bulldogs are Jordan Aquino (106), Anthony Hernandez (126), Bobby Ehman (132), Hayden Fry (145), Steven Gomez (195) and Mike McCauley (heavyweight).
Preparing his wrestlers to compete is important to Wight, but making the most of last opportunities is also important to the coach.
“They seem pretty loose,” the coach said. “Six have done this before, that helps a lot to handle the pressure better. The arena is not so scary. This week, I kept reminding myself this is my last week with Gionn, Jeramy and Hayden. I want to enjoy this.”
Team success is always important to Wight and the Bulldogs, who finished third as a team last March. They also won the state championship as a squad in 2007.
“I think we are a top-5 team,” he said. “We’ve never had back-to-back years winning team plaques. I think Clovis will be so far out in front, the race is for second. We really want to walk home with a top-4 finish.”
Rodriguez High has two seniors in the tournament, one with state experience and the other who’s making his first journey to Bakersfield.
At 126 pounds, Brandon Vu is making his second consecutive trip south and Mustangs coach Mike Clarkston noted Vu is more focused in 2014.
“Last year he was wrestling really well, but his goal was to qualify,” Clarkston said. “You could see he wasn’t motivated. Now he has bigger goals, to go farther. This week is the last week to achieve these goals.
“He’s asking more questions, playing around with more strategies to try to get on the podium. He wants what he didn’t get last year.”
Heavyweight Patrick Ferrer, who moved up to heavyweight after wrestling at 220 pounds a season ago, is coming into his own at the upper weight.
“He has a tough first round match with the Southern Section champ (Roosevelt’s Nour Abdullatif). He’s undefeated on the season. Patrick has been getting healthier every week. He’s showing more offense. We wanted more experience during the year at heavyweight. The style is different. He’s (finally) developing a heavyweight style.”
Now that both Vu and Ferrer are in their last high school tournament, Clarkston said it’s time to leave it all on the mat.
“I think you don’t hold anything back,” he said. “As a junior, you always have next year. I don’t think they have any fear. It’s their last shot. They could open up and go after it and show how much they want it.”
Armijo’s Jorge Perez (152 pounds) will also be making his first trip to state after getting injured at the section tournament last season.
Indians coach Cesar Correa is ready to see what Perez can do now that he has the chance to compete against the state’s best.
“I was actually expecting him to make a run this year,” Correa said. “He had a tough weight class last year. I was expecting him to do good this year. He hyperextended his knee at sections (last season). He didn’t get a chance to see what he could do at Masters.
“He just has good, natural talent, super strong for his weight. He has ability to get kids on their back. He just keeps going. He’s had close matches with top kids (in the section). He’s right up there. Now that he’s healthy, it will be nice to see what he can do.”
Reach Brian Arnold at 427-6969 or [email protected] Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/barnolddr.