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Los Angeles, CA. – The 23rd annual Super 32 tournament is scheduled to take place October 21-22 in Greensboro, North Carolina. Sixteen years have passed since the first batch of California wrestlers entered the event. David Klingsheim (Liberty High) was the first CA medalist, placing fourth at 119 lbs. The following year, Alex Cisneros (Selma High) and Klingsheim became the first and second wrestlers from the Golden State to win the prestigious Super 32 belt.
This year, around 60 wrestlers from California will make the cross-country trip to try to get their hands on their own belt. Let’s look at some of the wrestlers from CA who I believe can return back to California with some hardware, maybe even that belt.
Garza is an incoming freshman who has had a lot of success recently. In the last few months, Garza won the Super 32 qualifier, defeating Jack Baker (Granada High School) 5-2. Baker was a North Coast place winner and was a match shy of advancing to the CIF state tournament last season. Garza placed second at the Grappler Fall Classic, losing a 4-2 match to Gavin Landers (Iowa). Landers himself is a Fargo Double All-American and a top freshman in the country. Garza’s relative “unknown” status in the tournament will make him a dangerous threat to the competition.
Rocklin picked up a lot of quality wins through his freshman campaign last season. He walked away with Zinkin Classic, Sonora TOC, Doc B titles. He got the CIF post-season party started right with a Section championship. Although he’d ultimately take 2nd in the state, he spent the majority of the season ranked in the top 15 nationally.
Now competing up a weight class, Rocklin is a strong top 8 contender and possible champion if it’s all clicking for him this weekend. His weight is especially frisky with 2 world champions, and more.
Ramirez became the second Ramirez’s brother to claim a state title for the family after winning it all over a tough Antonio Rodriguez (Los Gatos) 9-2. His elder brother (Alex) was a state champion in 2020. Last season, Ramirez won a CIF Southern Section Divisional and master’s title at 113 pounds. Ronnie enters Super 32 with high expectations coming off a Freakshow performance where he pinned five of six opponents en route to the title.
Q: Can you introduce yourself?
A: name is Ronnie Ramirez 17yrs old California state champ
Q: How did you get into wrestling in the first place?
A: My dad. He wrestled.
Q: Which three words would you use to describe yourself as an athlete?
A: Calm, technical and funny.
Q: Who is your biggest sports idol?
A: Steph Curry
Q: How do you feel you have grown since you were a freshman walking into your first practice?
A: A lot getting better and more mature
Q: What is your favorite wrestling memory ever?
A: The wrestling trips to Tulsa nationals with my dad and my brothers and taking 1st place.
Q: What does it mean for you to come from the Ramirez clan, where your father was a state medal winner and your older brother a state champion?
A: Means a lot to represent our family name and thankful for this gift my dad has pass on, but we’re not done. There’s another lil Ramirez following right behind us lol.
Q: What are your expectations this weekend at the Super 32 tournament?
A: Always to win, but mainly to learn and grow from this tough tournament whatever the results are
Q: What’s your favorite dish that your mom makes?
A: Steak and tater tots
Q: Something interesting that people don’t know about you?
A: I love basketball and play a lot in the summer. That’s why I don’t do much freestyle or Fargo.
Sophomore sensation Chris “C.J.” Huerta is another wrestler for Buchanan who had a phenomenal freshman season. C.J. entered the state tournament as the No. 2 seed after having won the Tim Brown, Morro Bay, and the always-tough Central Section. Nevertheless, a shocking upset sent him to the consolation rounds, but he rebounded by eventually defeating the wrestler who beat him in the quarterfinal round and placing third at 113 pounds. A former Folkstyle National Champion, C.J. has the potential to win big matches on the national stage.
Rodriguez AKA Ant-Man, as his teammates refer to him, had a tremendous freshman season that saw him place second at the CIF state tournament behind Ramirez. Ant-Man picked up a Central Coast title along the way, becoming the first Los Gatos High freshman to do so. His unorthodox style of wrestling will make him a dangerous individual to face during the early rounds.
Everyone in California should be excited to see Romero compete in high school. A highly touted middle schooler, Romero recently won the New York Journeymen tournament and placed second at Fargo. Last year at Super 32, he competed in the high school division as an 8th grader, and placed fifth. Between him, Ronnie, CJ, and Ant, this is one of the best weights for CA this weekend, and should be a fun one to watch this season.
Q&A with Michael
Q: Do you have a lot of pressure to perform at a high level like those affiliated with St. John Bosco?
A: I don’t really feel pressure because I feel like I am on the same track with the help of coach Valencia.
Q: What was the ultimate decision to choose Bosco?
A: I chose Bosco because I knew I’d have good partners and know the level of athletes that have come out of this program.
Q: What are your expectations at Super32?
A: I know it won’t be easy, but I think I’ve put in enough work to be able to do good.
Q: Do you think competing up two weight classes will affect your performance versus bigger opponents?
A: I think I’ve adjusted to my weight, and it has made me bigger and stronger so I don’t think my performance will be affected.
Q: How you would rate your performance at the 16U Marine Corps Nationals?
A: Well, I wish I would’ve won it. I think I did good, but I know there’s always more work to do.
Q: What goes into a normal workout day at Bosco?
A: Practices are Intense. We usually drill, we work our moves live, and finish with some sort of intense conditioning and weight training.
Q: If you don’t win a CIF state title, would you consider this season a failure?
A: It is my freshman year and I only expect to do my best. I am excited to see where that takes me.
Q: If you had a chance to pick a college, where and why?
A: I want to just keep my options open and see what best suits me later when I’m actually ready to make that decision.
Q: Your favorite food that mom makes?
A: My mom makes good crepes and chilaquiles
Q: Something interesting people don’t know about you?
A: I love to cook and bake. I also prefer to make my own meals.
A wrestler I am excited to watch this weekend is Nikade of Clovis High. Only a junior, Nikade has won the central section twice in his career and figures to be right back in that mix again. Last season, he recorded a major upset when he defeated 2022 CIF state champion Isaiah Quintero (El Dorado) 6-1TB2. Unfortunately for Nikade, Quintero redeemed himself in the semifinals of the state tournament and defeated Nikade in overtime to advance to the finals; Nikade would take third. Earlier this month, Nikade won the Grappler Fall Classic, defeating Christian Fretwell, a Florida state champion, 7-3.
Q&A with Nikade
A: Hello, my name is Nikade Zinkin. I’m a junior at Clovis High School and wrestle under coaches Gabe Schaefer and Adam Tirapelle.
Q: How does the coaching at Clovis prepare you every day to win a state title?
A: The hard work and sweat and tears that are put in the room, lifting room, or even on the track every day, day in and day out and just knowing that we’ve put in the work and trusting in our coaches is what I think helps me believe the most that I can be a state champ.
Q: What’s your most memorable moment in wrestling?
A: I would say the most memorable moment in my wrestling career so far would be my double overtime win over the returning state champ (Isaiah Quintero) in the Doc Buchanan semi-finals. The crazy win in such a good atmosphere in my home school was one that I will never forget.
Q: What are your goals for next season?
A: My goal for next season is to win the coveted Doc Buchanan Hat and bring home another state title to Clovis High.
Q: What’s your biggest piece of advice to someone looking to one day be in your shoes as an elite wrestler?
A: Something I would say is the work you put in is what you’re going to get out. Our coaches preach that every day. If you’re cutting corners and doing the very least possible to be good, yes, you may be good, but you won’t be the best of the best. Only you will know really how hard you are going and if you’re pushing yourself to be the best version of yourself, you will eventually accomplish your goal.
Q: How did you get into wrestling?
A: I was basically born into wrestling. my family has been wrestling since my grandpa. which got way more serious leading down to my dad and my uncles. my uncle Nick was the first four-time Doc Buchanan Champion, and my uncle Dewayne and dad Harold were both were NCAA Division I All-Americans at Fresno State. I knew since I was young that me, my brother, and cousins were all going to be wrestlers.
Q: Is wrestling more of a mental sport or a physical sport?
A: I would say wrestling is just as hard mentally as it is physically. It’s so easy to tell yourself you’re done or when u get a little tired to stop or feel like you’ve done enough, but that’s just when you’ve hit where you are really putting in the hard work.
8: Do you have any idea where you’re going to compete in college?
A: No, I’m not sure yet where I want to go to college. I’ve had some really good colleges reach out that have my interest, but not sure where I’m planning on going yet. I want to give myself as much time as needed and see all my options before I commit to where I want to go.
Q: Where does your grit and persistence come from?
A: I would say my grit and persistence just come from hating to lose. No matter if we’re wrestling, playing dodgeball, or soccer I’m going to try my best to win no matter what I am doing.
Q: Your great-grandfather (Harold) was considered the “father of modern bodybuilding” by Arnold Schwarzenegger. Do you think you might go into bodybuilding in the near future?
A: I haven’t really considered going into bodybuilding. I know I want to wrestle all 5 years in college and depending on my success I would like to be a World and Olympic Champion.
A: My favorite dish that my mom makes is probably 5 cheese pasta with garlic bread.
Q: Something interesting that people don’t know about you?
A: Something interesting that people probably don’t know about me is I can take down anyone in the family.
Toscano was another outstanding freshman who competed for Buchanan and helped the Bears win their seventh consecutive state team title. He won four season tournaments, including the Central Section. Toscano worked his way through the state tournament before falling to Elijah Cortez (Gilroy) 2-1 in the finals. As of late, he’s up a bunch of weight classes and hasn’t seemed to struggle at all. This run has included wins at California Sup32, SCWAY Fall Classic, and the always-tough World Challenge. In the finals of the SCWAY Fall Classic, Toscano defeated E.J. Parco, 2-1. That was at 150.
He’s settling into 138 here and is definitely one to keep an eye on.
Making the move from Clovis North to Buchanan, Bauder made great strides last season that saw him win the Central Section and place second at the always-tough CIF state tournament. An unorthodox grappler, Bauder will enter the Super 32 tournament with high hopes after going 4-2 at 132 pounds. Bauder is a great catch for any wrestling program as he is still uncommitted.
Kelly is another great wrestler from the Mean Green Machine. Last year at the Super 32 tournament, Kelly was upset in the first round but still managed to win seven consecutive matches to finish a match shy of placing. He also had a strong showing at the CIF state tournament, placing third in a loaded 138-weight class. In 2019, Kelly had a strong showing at the 15U Pan-Am games where he claimed double gold for Team USA. The Poway coaching staff should have Kelly ready to claim a championship belt.
Q&A with Kelly
Q: With so much tradition in Poway, what does it mean to you to compete at Poway?
A: I take pride in competing for Poway, hoping that I could be the person on and off the mat that the youth wrestlers could look up to.
A: I got into wrestling through a small high school program when I was about 7 years old. It was the only thing that would contain my energy as a kid, but it has evolved into one of the most important aspects of my life.
Q: Who’s that person in the wrestling room that is helping you become a better wrestler each day?
A: I would say that my coach is that person. He knows me both on and off the mat and has become my most trusted mentor and guide throughout my high school career helping me become a better person and wrestler every single day.
Q: What goes into a normal workout day at the Poway wrestling room?
A: Every day is a workout day whether we are actually in the wrestling room or not. Every aspect of my life can be considered training, whether it’s me tracking what I put into my body, how much I work, how much I rest, or how much sleep I get. Everything matters and can be considered as training.
A: I expect to wrestle to the best of my ability. I am working hard to earn the outcome I want (which would be 1st of course) but I’m not worried about what place I get or who I’m going to wrestle. I just going to go out there and fight!
Q: How would you rate your performance at the Sup 8 duals after defeating various ranked opponents?
A: I feel like I wrestled pretty good. Definitely a lot of things that I needed to work on, and am still improving on, but overall, I did what I was supposed to do and took care of business.
A: My favorite wrestling memory ever was winning the Greco World Championships in 2019. I was in Budapest, Hungary with my dad, and got to have my first taste of international wrestling and got to experience a small handful of the cultures from the various countries that competed there.
Q: Do you have any idea where you’re going to compete in college?
A: I am currently verbally committed to California Baptist University (CBU). I am very excited to compete and grow as a person in college, and I believe that CBU is the best place for me to excel both in and out of the wrestling room.
Q: What’s your favorite food that your mom makes?
A: My favorite food that my mom makes is by far her infamous Tres Leche cake! I have yet to find a cake that is better!
A: I think something interesting that people don’t know about me is that I really like rave music.
Parco comes from great stock as he is the younger brother of Kyle Parco, a three-time All-American for Arizona State. Parco is a senior who has won the Central Coast Section twice and has placed fifth at the state tournament in 2022 and 2023. He won Reno TOC with a strong showing by defeating two-time Idaho state champion and former California wrestler Jason Mara of Meridian High, 3-0. Expect a strong showing by him this weekend.
What can we say about the Iowa Commit? He has reached the pinnacle of success by already claiming two CIF state titles for Frontier High. He showed no anxiety in both his semifinal and final matches by coming from behind and getting the W. Estrada will enter his final season with a lot of pressure as he will attempt to become a three-time state champion in one of the toughest state tournaments in the country. The coaching staff at the University of Iowa can’t wait to have him and mold him into the next Marty Kistler, a former three-time state champion from California who went on to claim two NCAA titles for Dan Gable and the Hawks.
Coached by Clovis Legend Troy Tirapelle, Leo has proven to be an exciting wrestler who gets the job done when asked. Contino will enter his junior season as a Central Section champion and a two-time state place winner. He had a strong showing at the Elite 8 Ultimate Club Duals where he defeated some top-notch competition from across the country. Expect him to continue that success here, confirming his top 10 rank nationally.
Don’t be deceived by the fact that Marin placed sixth at the state tournament last season. At the Super32 tournament competing in the same weight class as Sahakian, Marin worked his way through the bracket and finished in third place; four spots ahead of Sahakian who finished in seventh place. Marin will enter the event as a two-time state placer with the potential to claim the state title this season. Keep an eye on him as he could return to the city of Clovis with a championship belt.
The Arizona State commit will test the waters and go up a weight class. Sahakian dominated the competition at the U17 Pam-Am games and at the 2023 Journeymen Classic. Only a junior, Sahakian is a 2023 state champion, third-place winner at state, and a former 16U Freestyle national champion. His agility and speed will make it harder for most heavyweights to match up with his skills and strength. Sahakian will try and improve his performance after having placed seventh last year.
Now we know Herrera will be competing for Ames High down in Iowa. Nevertheless, Herrera is a California boy who has won two consecutive state titles for Palm Desert High. A one-of-a-kind wrestler from the Coachella Valley, Herrera will attempt and compete in the gridiron and on the mats when he enters Iowa State. Herrera and Sahakian could be in a collide course to eventually battle for a championship belt.
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Based in Western PA. Right in the heart of WPIAL country, Todd brings an insider’s view from the country’s epicenter of wrestling. He’s excited to build on the TKDWN tradition of starting with the story first. The athletes, the coaches, their families and supporters, there is no shortage of stories to tell. And Todd will bring his unique perspective to help us continue to deliver top notch content for the world’s greatest sport!