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By Felix Adamo / The Californian
BY ZACH EWING AND STEPHEN LYNCH The Californian
Wasco's Isaiah Hokit was in trouble, but he told himself to stay patient.
He was down 3-0 late in the second period to Valencia's Jake Langenwalter in the 113-pound quarterfinals Friday at Rabobank Arena in the CIF State Wrestling Championships.
"I just knew I had to chip away, one moment at a time," said Hokit, a sophomore who lost in the quarterfinals a year ago. "He seemed to wear down a little bit, and I just kept going."
Hokit escaped before the second period ended, got another escape to begin the third and then got a point when Langenwalter was called twice for stalling, tying the match 3-3. After a scoreless overtime period, Hokit with an escape and takedown in the second overtime. He'll wrestle state No. 2 Israel Saavedra of Modesto in this morning's semifinals.
"It feels so good to know you have a for-sure medal," said Hokit, who took fourth place last year and is guaranteed at least sixth this season. "I'll just push myself and hopefully get to the finals."
Hokit's younger brother, Josh, also had two big wins at 126 pounds, beating two top-10 ranked opponents before falling 11-0 in the quarterfinals to James Logan's Artemio Flores, who was ranked No. 4.
"Josh has wrestled well all year, but he came in here without a lot of guys knowing who he was," Wasco coach Juan Gallardo said. "He's a freshman, but he's a freshman with a lot of poise."
Wasco, which has two in the semifinals, is in an 11th-place tie in the team standings with 40 points.
One match away
Any wrestler who lost in the Friday night quarterfinals will face an opponent who survived Friday night's final consolation round. Winners move on to the consolation quarterfinals, where they're guaranteed a state medal; losers will go home empty-handed.
The so-called Cinderella Round includes nine Kern County wrestlers; six who lost quarterfinal matches and three who battled back through the consolation rounds.
The nine still alive: Frontier's Vincent Gomez (126), Izaiah Ozuna (132) and Augie Alcantar (220); Bakersfield's A.J. Fierro (145), Hunter Hodges (160) and Kyle Pope (182); Josh Hokit of Wasco (126); Stockdale's Ryan Holmes (170) and Tehachapi's Dillon Harroun (182).
Frontier's three survivors have the Titans in 13th place in the team standings with 39 points. They're just 2.5 points out of the top 10.
"They've got to be ready for that one match," Frontier coach Kirk Moore said. "It's time to get the weight down, get re-focused and get ready to go in the morning."
Moore said he was especially pleased with Alcantar, who came in ranked No. 24 but beat No. 5 Miracle Tausaga of Spring Valley-Mt. Miguel in the first round. He lost in the round of 16 but bounced back with two consolation victories in the evening session.
"It was a great day for Augie," Moore said. "He came from nowhere. He's a big, strong kid, not many know him. But he's in great position."
Clovis seeks third three-peat
Two-time defending state champion Clovis leads the team standings with 114 points, a good distance away from second-place Poway (80.5) but nothing like last year, when the Cougars set a state record with 256.5 points and blew away the field.
Still, if the Cougars finish off a third consecutive championship, they would have three instances in their history of winning three titles in a row. The first two were from 1974-76 and from 1990-92.
Clovis-Buchanan is in third place at 68.5, Vacaville in fourth with 66 and Corona-Santiago fifth at 59.5. Bakersfield is seventh at 57.5.
Varner in the house
Fresh off a trip to Iran with the USA national freestyle wrestling team, 2012 Olympic Gold medalist Jake Varner was in attendance at Rabobank on Friday.
The former BHS great took in part of the day's action and signed autographs for fans.
"It always feels good (to be at the state meet)," Varner said. "This is my second time back since I've been in in high school. It's an exciting tournament...To watch these young kids come up and win a state title is pretty fun."
Varner didn't wrestle while in Iran but enjoyed the experience of going there for the international dual tournament.
"Being over there, it's a great wrestling atmosphere," Varner said. "They pack the stadium. They probably had 12,000-15,000 people for the couple of the duals. It's pretty awesome. The locals are real passionate about wrestling and the sport so that was pretty cool."