#1 Poway vs #2 Buchanan Preview





Team Points

Running Team Score

Final Score


Blake Woodward

#24 Arseni Kikiniou


Poway 3

Poway 3

Poway 25


#12 Rocklin Zinkin

#11 Edwin Sierra


Buchanan 3

Buchanan 3

Buchanan 21


CJ Huerta

Devin Bobzien


Buchanan 3

Buchanan 6



Ashton Besmer

Billy Townson


Poway 3

Poway 6



Paris Ruiz

Elias Navida


Poway 3

Poway 9



Gavin Bauder

#7 Paul Kelly


Poway 3

Poway 12



#6 Joe Toscano

Mario Carini


Buchanan 3

Buchanan 9



Jaxtyn Frost

#7 Laird Root


Poway 4

Poway 16



#14 Leo Contino

Jack Estevez


Buchanan 3

Buchanan 12



#23 Branson John

Sasha Kikiniou


Buchanan 3

Buchanan 15



Brock Kitchen

#14 Angelo Posada


Poway 6

Poway 22



Sean-Michael Roberts

Ben Bomberger


Buchanan 3

Buchanan 18



Alec Dansby

#13 Robert Platt


Poway 3

Poway 25



Bryson Harrington

Adam Farha


Buchanan 3

Buchanan 21


As you would expect when the two top teams in the state of California get together for a dual, basically every wrestler is in the top 15 of the state and there are 10 carrying national rankings. We’ll get one nationally ranked match up at 113 that we already saw at Doc B and should see yet again at the state finals. I’d call that the headliner here and, with as close as the dual score should be, making that the final bout would be a potentially phenomenal finish to the proceedings.

With both teams being at Doc B, we have some head to heads from the current season that obviously inform some of the predictions this weekend. But so many of these are close, of the toss up variety, that a flip of a result isn’t out of the question at all.

At 106, Kikiniou and Woodward haven’t wrestled this season but were both at Doc B where they have a common opponent in Clovis’ Anthony Garza. Woodward has actually wrestled Garza 3 times this year, going 1-2. At Doc B, it was Garza who got the win first and then Woodward came back to beat him for 3rd. Kikiniou is 1-0 against him. The other point of note is who they have lost to. For Woodward, it’s been Garza twice and Carlos Melgoza. For Kikiniou, it’s Siraj Sidhu, Paulo Valdez, and Elijah Almarinez. All three losses for Kikiniou have been at 113. All of this to say, the season resume to date favors Poway. The location favors Buchanan. I think a lot will be determined by where they start the dual. If they start at 120, this match up happens after a likely Buchanan win at 285. The buzz will be electric. I probably go Woodward. If the dual starts here at 106, I think Kikiniou gets it done.

At 113, you have the best match in the dual and one of the best in the state at any weight. You have two nationally ranked wrestlers who are currently number 1 and 2 in the state. It was Zinkin who entered the year atop the state rankings but Sierra beat him at Doc B. That was a 6-3 decision, and any reasonable analysis would give him the edge off of that result coming in this weekend. For Zinkin, he doesn’t lose in the state of CA often: in the state finals against a senior, Scotty Moore, on a mission in Bakersfield; once to Thunder Lewis; and this season to Sierra. He never got the chance to avenge the loss to Moore, he did beat Lewis the next time they wrestled, and now he gets to try to do the same this weekend. This really could go either way, and with an overall dual this close, this has the makings of a classic.

At 120, CJ Huerta was part of a trio of Buchanan freshmen that were all atop their weight classes last season. While none of the three came away from Bakersfield with that 1st state title, they were all top 3. Huerta, like Zinkin and Toscano, will have his eyes set on a return trip to the podium. At last year’s dual, Huerta got Sierra at 113 and was able to come away with the win. As we discussed at 113, Sierra has elevated his game a lot, developing into a bonafide state champion contender. Huerta has displayed that level of wrestling himself, even if this year he comes into the weekend ranked 7th in the state – a little lower than where he was consistently in the top 3 all last year. Bobzien got a huge win after Doc B over Slater Hicks. That shows he is a threat here. Huerta is my slight favorite but this is another one of those quality, toss ups you get throughout the 14.

At 126, you have a pair of kids who have both spent time in their careers with national rankings by their name. Besmer can lay claim to that as recently as this season, coming off the Zinkin Classic. For Townson, it’s been previously in his career, after national performances garnering attention. Last year, Towson put together a 4th place finish in the state, and so far this season, appears to be on track to repeat at least that. His only loss in CA to date has come against current #1, Nikade Zinkin. He finished 4th at Doc B, losing twice to Bixby’s nationally ranked Gage Walker. Besmer went 1-2 in the same bracket. But don’t let that finish fool you, even if we give a slight edge to Townson here, Besmer is live to flip this for the Bears and could be one of those results that determines this dual winner.

At 132, we have another match up with a current season head to head result. As with 113, this also went the way of Poway, Navida 1-0 over Paris Ruiz. I’m assuming it’s Ruiz for Buchanan, though they could also go with Anthony Harris. Harris has a win over his teammate but it’s been Ruiz in the line up most recently. Navida comes in carrying a slightly higher rank, #5 in the state, but Ruiz won 5 Counties with wins over Jesse Grajeda and Manny Saldate, both nationally ranked. So, there’s evidence here that Ruiz could flip the 1-0 result in his favor. But I’m going with Navida in this prediction.

At 138, Paul Kelly has worked himself into a national threat in every tournament around the country. He was 4th at Super 32 while also going undefeated at Elite 8. Depending who else ends up at 138, say Daniel Zepeda, Kelly could be the favorite to come away with the state title. Regardless of the field, he’ll be my pick to reach the finals. But that doesn’t mean I’m right and doesn’t mean last year’s finalist, Gavin Bauder, can’t make things interesting – starting with a win this weekend. Transferring into Buchanan from Clovis North, Bauder has been a lot busier with the Bears than he would have been with the Broncos (traveling to the HOF duals for example). He only has one in-state loss so far, Aiden Simmons in the Zinkin finals. The current season results, Kelly is 4-0 against common opponents while Bauder is 1-3, indicate a Kelly win, but I wouldn’t be surprised by either outcome.

At 144, we have a match up that on paper might be the first real solid favorite, non-tossup. California runner up last year, Joseph Toscano, with a top 10 national ranking will be taking on freshman Mario Carini. If we simply look at the 2 recent losses Carini took, we might say, duh, Toscano has this. But, we also see some national results that give us pause to declare Toscano the winner without much consideration. He lost to teammate Kelly, 4-0, and national top 15 in Oklahoma, Layton Schneider 5-3. Now, I would still argue Toscano is probably the best of the bunch but it does show Carini shouldn’t be overwhelmed here at all. I do think this is a solid decision for Buchanan. It’s also a huge moment for Carini to announce himself as a real state threat.

The lower 7 weights are basically 5 true toss ups with two more that should split , but every weight down there could go any way – except possibly 144. The upperweights tell a different story. This collection of weights should be where some bonus starts to creep in. And I think it starts at 150. Laird Root is a state title contender of the 1st order. The biggest issue for him is that 150 is the toughest weight statewide. However, that won’t really be a problem here. Frost is a solid candidate to finish with a medal at the end of the season, and could be part of a Buchanan team that places every single starter. Root should still win this comfortably. But we shall see.

You can basically take everything I just said about 150 and apply it to 157, only instead flip the favorite from Poway to Buchanan. Leo Contino is a very strong state title contender, at full strength might even be the favorite. He should handle this one.

At 165, we should have back to back Buchanan wins, but definitely less of a sure thing than the previous two weights. If you woke up Sunday and saw that Sasha Kikiniou pulled this out, you wouldn’t really be at all shocked. In their careers, it’s Kikiniou with the state medal (8th place last season). But this is John’s 1st year as the sure starter. And he’s made the most of it so far. Enough so that he’s coming into this ranked by just about every national media outlet and deservedly so. He finished 3rd at Doc B, in the same bracket that Kikiniou didn’t place. He has a major decision win over Brae Sepulveda who beat Kikiniou at Temecula Valley. The results so far point to a John win, and that’s what I’m calling for. But I think it’s close.

At 175, we have probably Poway’s biggest favorite and maybe the biggest favorite at any weight. Angelo Posada is a true state title front runner and has the national accolades to back up a top 10-15 ranking. Brock Kitchen is a solid starter in the Bears line up, but he’s taken a couple losses by fall, like to Ybarra of Pomona at Doc B. Posada should come close to doing the same.

190 is a true toss up in my mind. The advantage lies with Roberts, but it’s ever so slight. The biggest result driving my prediction is the common opponent of Mark Marin. He has a win over Bomberger but a loss to Roberts in the dual. Duals are different, obviously. But this is a dual as well. If this year’s dual were at Poway, or the SD area, I’d lean Bomberger. It’s in Fresno, I go Roberts.

At 215, Platt made the transfer from Brawley to Poway and looks to repeat as state champion. He’ll get pushed by Coby Merrill (his finals opponent last year, and Doc B finals opponent this year) who just won the most recent match between them. To get to Merrill, he may run into Alec Dansby somewhere in the state bracket. It’s possible come February, how Dansby performs in Bakersfield could carry team title implications. So, this one here will give us a good indication of where Dansby sits within the state. They don’t have any recent head to heads nor do they share any common opponents. But it’s pretty safe to say, Platt’s career to date points to win this weekend. Maybe a little closer than it looks on paper. 

And finally, the big boys, the heavyweights, the last weight of the dual. Although, I have no idea what weight they actually start at. As I mentioned before, I think it should be 120, to end at 113. But we’ll see. This heavyweight bout has swung Buchanan’s way to me, ever so slightly. Both Harrington and Farha have only lost to the top 2 heavyweights in the state – Harrington 0-2 vs Sahakian, Farha 0-1 vs Merrill. But Harrington has a win over CA 3rd place medalist Adam Stanley which is the best win between them. It should be noted that they have a pair of common opponents, Ricky Thomas of Edmond North and Nate Gregory of St Edward. Farha performed better in his losses. Is that the kind of thing that makes him the favorite? Not to me. But it does, however, indicate that after the top 2 in CA at 285, which is about as elite as it gets, the next group of 3, Harrington, Stanley, and Farha, are all very close and should make for a highly competitive battle. This weekend we get a round 1 of Harrington and Farha.

Make no mistake, this is the best chance for a team in CA to beat Buchanan. There have been previous years where we may have thought if everything breaks right it could go this way. Only it never went that way. This year, we’re looking at the ways it can go for Buchanan to pull it off. They come in, sort of like the Chiefs this weekend, underdogs, but dangerous. No stranger to the big stage. And the weights are so close in so many all it takes for more of them to break their way than against them. 

In my prediction, I already give the Bears the win at 113. And it’s not enough. To make this win a reality, they’ll have to either eliminate all bonus for Poway, and make it 7-7 in matches and go to criteria tied at 21 a piece or they’ll have to flip another weight and make it 8-6 in their favor. The most likely candidates to do this would be Woodward at 106, Besmer at 126, or Ruiz at 132. And of course they can’t give up the close matches at 120, 165, and 190. 

Regardless of the final score, I expect close to 14 hotly contested bouts and one that might just come down to the final weight. And if that weight is 113, the nationally ranked showdown, the state finals preview, etc etc, then all the better for us, for CA wrestling, and the sport in general.

Dual is streaming on Mat Scouts Rokfin channel.

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