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Five California Wrestlers Who Made Moves at The Grappler Fall Classic

Five California Wrestlers Who Made Moves at The Grappler Fall Classic

Name: Joey Cruz

High School: Clovis North

Year: Sophomore

College: Uncommitted

The former Selma youth star is making waves in the national scene with his unorthodox style of wrestling. Seeded No. 1 at 119-pounds, Cruz placed third at this renowned tournament after having placed third at Rabobank Arena. In round # 1, Cruz downed Illinois state qualifier Cole Rhemrev 19-3 before being disqualified against Nasir Bailey of Illinois in round # 2. In the consolation rounds, Cruz earned the 11-2 major decision over Wisconsin state place winner Cooper Willis to place top 8 in the tournament. Next up, Cruz got two-time Florida state medalist and state champion Danny Nini. A lone takedown was the decisive move that allowed Cruz to move to the consolation semifinal round. In the consolation semifinal round, Cruz took on fellow California wrestler Jack Gioffre of Buchanan to grind out a 6-2 win and advance to the third-place bout. In the third-place match, Cruz earned a takedown and escape point to defeat Illinois state place winner Nain Vasquez. It was Cruz's first Grappler Fall Classic medal of his career.

Name: Jayden Gomez

High School: Gilroy

Year: Junior

College: Undecided

Entering his junior season at Gilroy High, Jayden Gomez is looking to make himself relevant in the state championship talks. After having placed fifth at state as a freshman, Gomez missed weight during the postseason that caused him a chance on becoming a two-time state medalist. Now up a few weight classes and healthy, Gomez showed the foes at his bracket why he is a dangerous individual to outmaneuver. At the Grappler Fall Classic, Gomez went 5-0 competing at 130-pounds. His first two matches weren’t much of any competition as he outscored his opponents 25-4. Gomez put a takedown clinic on Michigan state qualifier Evan Blessing 12-2 and then defeated Ohio state qualifier Jacob Reed with a similar score of 13-2. In the quarterfinal round, Gomez used great skills to defeat two-time Florida state runner-up Jaekus Hines 6-2. His semifinal match was no challenge at all as he outscored two-time Michigan state place winner Sam Freeman 7-1 to win a spot in the championship match. In the finals, Gomez earned the title by winning 16-6 over Florida state medalist Jack Crook. Gomez was supposed to meet up with three-time Iowa state champion Adam Allard. However, Allard was edged in the semifinal round by Crook, 4-3.

Name: Henry Porter

High School: Gilroy

Year: Junior

College: Indiana University

A former state finalist, Porter has a big target on his back as his father was a two-time state champion for Hughson High in the mid 90’s. At the Grappler Fall Classic competing with his new Gilroy teammates, Porter had it easy in the early rounds as he got the fall in the first round over Michigan state place winner Kyle Yuhas, and then earned the 10-1 major decision over Indiana state qualifier Colton Roberts. In the quarterfinal round, Porter edged two-time Wisconsin state place winner Connor Thorpe, 8-7. However, Porter’s biggest win came in the semifinal round as he outlasted three-time Florida state place winner and No. 1 seed Justin Rivera 2-1 TB-1. Rivera, a Campbell University recruit, is currently ranked # 11 in the country according to The Open Mat. With the win versus Rivera, Porter was hyped up to claim a title and bring it back to California. Nevertheless, that wasn’t meant to be as Porter was defeated in the finals by three-time Florida state champion Bretti Reyna, 6-4.

Name: Chase Saldate

High School: Gilroy

Year: Senior

College: Michigan State

Michigan State signee Chase Saldate didn’t leave Michigan with a Grappler Fall Classic championship, but he did make the finals for a second consecutive year. In his first match, Saldate pulled the 3-0 win over Florida state place winner Luke Chop and then blanket Indiana state place winner Isaiah Levitz 17-0. In the semifinal round, it took only 2:46 of the match for Saldate to pin Indiana state finalist Eli Dickens. In his finals match, Saldate was the huge favorite. However, he was stunned by three-time Michigan state place winner and two-time state champion Derek Gilcher 9-4. A Walsh Jesuit Ironman third-place finisher, Saldate will be a key component at Michigan State as the Spartans will look battle for a Big10 team title in the future.

Name:  Nick Villareal

High School:  Gilroy

Year:  Senior

College:  Fresno State

Dropping down to the 215-pound weight class, Nick Villareal was the favorite to win it all for a second consecutive year. However, that wasn’t meant to be as he was upset in the quarterfinal round by Florida state champion Chad Nix, 7-2. In the consolation rounds, Villareal upended Florida state qualifier Andre Mortensen 5-1 to place top 8 in the tournament. In his next match, Villareal squeaked past Florida state champion Matthew Kaplan, 4-3. His following match he won with a late takedown over Fargo All-American Colin Jagielski to advance to the third-place bout where he pinned Wisconsin state qualifier Ryan Krimpelbein in just 30 seconds. Villareal who was a state finalist last season is currently ranked # 5 by The Open Mat at 285-pounds.

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