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Saturday, Mar 08 2014 11:04 PM

CIF State Wrestling: Medal a dream come true for Bakersfield's Herrera

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    By Nick Ellis/ Special to The Californian

    Bakersfield High's Carlos Herrera hugs his coach following is win over Folsom's Curtis Booth Saturday morning at Rabobank Arena.

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    By Nick Ellis/ Special to The Californian

    Bakersfield High's Carlos Herrera works to take down Folsom's Curtis Booth during Saturday's early round 120-pound match at Rabobank Arena.

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    By Nick Ellis/ Special to The Californian

    Bakersfield High's Navonte Demison takes down Tulare-Mission Oak's Dadvid Campbell during Saturday's 106-pound match at Rabobank Arena.

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    By Nick Ellis/ Special to The Californian

    Bakersfield High's Navonte Demison takes down Tulare-Mission Oak's Dadvid Campbell during Saturday's 106-pound match at Rabobank Arena.

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BY STEPHEN LYNCH Special to The Californian

It was a dream a decade in the making Carlos Herrera.

Ever since the CIF State Wrestling Championships came to Bakersfield 10 years ago, Herrera has been attending the event and imagining what it would be like to win a state medal.

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How they did

Navonte Demison, Bakersfield; overall record (5-1, third place)

Lost by dec. to Chris Lacayo, Corona-Santiago, 9-3; pinned Isaac Blackburn, Loomis-Del Oro, 1:47; dec. David Campbell, Tulare-Mission, 8-6.

Carlos Herrera, Bakersfield; overall record (4-3, sixth place)

Dec. Curtis Booth, Folsom, 6-1; dec. Russell Rohlfing, Sonora, 9-1; lost by dec. Jacob Donato, Union City-James Logan, 2-1; pinned by Evan Wick, San Marino, 1:41.

The Bakersfield High junior made his longtime dream a reality Saturday at Rabobank Arena, winning a pair of matches to take sixth place at 120 pounds.

"Every year, I would come and watch, and I told myself, 'I'm going to be here. I'm going to stand on that podium,'" Herrera said. "It's a great feeling to take sixth place."

Herrera was one of two BHS underclassmen to medal. Freshman Navonte Demison finished in third at 106 pounds.

Herrera (40-12) made it to the quarterfinals on Friday before losing to state No. 1 Israel Saavedra of Modesto. He bounced back from that setback, posting his third and fourth wins of the tournament and clinching a medal with a victory Saturday morning.

"Any time you get a chance to get a state medal, that's a great performance," said Bakersfield High coach Andy Varner. "For him to do it for the first time, it's a huge accomplishment. He should be very proud."

Demison's day started with a 9-3 loss in the 106-pound semifinals to Corona-Santiago's Chris Lacayo, but ended with a pair of victories.

He bounced back by pinning Isaac Blackburn of Loomis-Del Oro. Then in the third-place match, with his older brother, Nektoe, cheering him on from the stands, Demison edged David Campbell of Tulare-Mission Oak, 8-6.

"I've just been wrestling good these last four weeks," Demison said. "I had a good draw in the bracket and just kept wrestling hard and came out with third place."

Third place is the same position Demison finished at the Yosemite Divisional meet and last week's Central Section Masters Tournament.

He entered the weekend ranked No. 10 in the state.

"It's really exciting," Demison said. "I know that everybody's not expecting me to win, not expecting me to place. Just to come out and win feels good."

By posting a 5-1 record during the state meet, Demison finished the year 40-10.

"He did a great job," Varner said. "The last month of the season he's really battled and stepped up. Beat a lot of guys that beat him earlier. Just really exciting to watch, because as he got closer and closer you could tell that he believed that he belonged there and he belonged on the podium."

Herrera, who came into the prestigious two-day event ranked No. 9 in the state, lost his final two matches. All three of his losses came at the hands of opponents above him in the state rankings.

"It's exciting just being here, and I knew I was good enough to finish pretty high, at least seventh or eighth," Herrera said. "This is my dream ever since I was a little kid, just placing. This is my 10th year wrestling so I knew I had to give it all I had. (I had) my dad pushing me and (I went) to the gym (a lot) after practice and put in the extra work."

Herrera, a BHS team captain, acknowledged that he was a bit apprehensive heading into Saturday morning's consolation round five, where the winner is guaranteed a medal and the loser is eliminated from the tournament without one.

Herrera withstood that pressure and downed Folsom's Curtis Booth 6-1.

"I was very nervous," Herrera said. "I barely beat that kid not too long ago. It was a close match. He's a tough kid, but I pulled it off."

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