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By Casey Christie / The Californian
BY ZACH EWING AND STEVE LYNCH The Californian
You never quite know what you're going to get at the CIF State Championships.
Take Frontier senior Augie Alcantar, who only started wrestling as a freshman and didn't become anything close to a state qualifier until this season. Alcantar entered this weekend's state meet at Rabobank Arena ranked No. 24 at 220 pounds by The California Wrestler.
He then beat No. 5 Miracle Tausaga of Spring Valley-Mount Miguel in the first round Friday, survived a couple of consolation matches and finished in eighth place Saturday, among the state's elite at his weight.
"It was a pretty good tournament," he said. "It'll be a new experience to be up there with all of the state medalists."
Alcantar clinched his medal with a satisfying pin of an opponent he'd never wrestled before from a premier wrestling schools: It was Clovis' Hexton Coronado, and Alcantar's second-period pin came in the first round of the day Saturday.
"It was one of the best feelings I've had in sports," said Alcantar, who was The Californian's Defensive Player of the Year in football.
Alcantar, a defensive lineman, said he plans to play college football next year, though he doesn't yet know if that will be at a four-year school or Bakersfield College.
Gomez settles for seventh
It wasn't quite like he imagined, but Frontier senior Vincent Gomez, ranked No. 1 in the state at 126 pounds, finished his career with a victory at Rabobank Arena.
It's just that this win, a decision over La Quinta's Jesse Calderon, only gave Gomez seventh place instead of a state championship.
"It hurts, knowing there are kids wrestling in the finals that you could beat," Gomez said. "But stuff happens, I guess. It just seems some people's lives are more unfair than others. You just have to deal with it."
Gomez, a three-time Central Section champion, was upset in the round of 32 on Friday by San Fernando's Johnny Parada. Parada was ranked No. 24 in the state but went on to make a run all the way to the state championship match.
It was Gomez's second career medal after a sixth-place finish as a freshman in 2010.
Hokit earns 2nd state medal
Wasco's Isaiah Hokit didn't get the final result he was hoping for, but the sophomore medaled at the state meet for a second straight year.
Hokit took sixth place after making a huge splash while finishing fourth as a freshman.
After a 3-0 start to the tournament, the 113-pounder began Saturday by losing a 6-3 decision in the semifinals to Modesto's Israel Saavedra.
He followed that up with a pair of hard-fought losses in the consolation bracket.
"I'm disappointed that I didn't finish as strong as I wanted to," Hokit said. "Those last two (matches) I should have won. Oh well."
Despite not placing as high as he would have liked, Hokit said that he gained valuable knowledge from his second go-round at the state meet.
"(I learned to) embrace these kind of moments," he said. "There's really not very many people who get to be in the spot that I was in today. Being in the semis. People would kill for that."
If Alcantar's surprise medal was an example of the state tournament giving, Bakersfield senior Kyle Pope learned how state can take away.
Pope, a state finalist last year at 182 pounds, lost a heart-breaking quarterfinal match Friday night when he allowed a takedown with 8 seconds left. He didn't recover in time to win a tough Saturday morning consolation match against Chris Lai of Vacaville, who beat him 5-2 and denied Pope any kind of a medal.
Pope, who has signed to wrestle at Wyoming, came into the season ranked No. 1 but suffered a rash of bad luck in the form of injuries and illness, leaving him in something less than championship form headed into the postseason.
Also losing in Saturday morning's make-or-break round were Wasco freshman Josh Hokit (126), Frontier senior Izaiah Ozuna (132), Stockdale senior Ryan Holmes (170) and Tehachapi's Dillon Harroun (182). All were one match away from the state medal stand.
Harroun makes history
Tehachapi's Dylan Harroun made history just by taking mat on Saturday morning, as he became the school's first wrestler to make it to the second day of the CIF State Championship tournament.
Harroun was eliminated after losing that bout, 11-8 to Taryn Christiansen of Forestville-El Molino, and did not medal.
The 182-pound senior finished the meet with a 3-2 record.
Harroun was aware of his ground-breaking achievement before mixing it up with Christiansen.
"It felt really good going in there with that thought," Harroun said.
3 times as sweet for Clovis
Clovis High added to its record haul of state championships with its 11th title.
The Cougars crowned two champions -- Adrian Salas at 182 and Nick Nevills at heavyweight -- had five medalists and out-distanced second-place Poway by more than 60 points.
It was Clovis' third consecutive state title, and this is the third time the program has accomplished that after 1974-76 and 1990-92. The only other school to three-peat was Santa Ana-Calvary Chapel, which did it in 1996-1998.
Clovis had 174 points. Poway finished second with 109.5 points, followed by Vacaville's 97, Bellflower-St. John Bosco with 95 and Corona-Santiago with 86.5.
With its sixth-place finish, Bakersfield (78.5 points) narrowly missed its 12th top-five finish, which would have equaled Calvary Chapel for third all-time behind Clovis and Poway. The Drillers won team titles in 2002, 2004 and 2010.