HomeBlocksFront-GridSan Marino Wrestling Ends Year at CIF State Championships

San Marino Wrestling Ends Year at CIF State Championships

For three days, the best wrestlers in California all convened under one roof at Mechanics Bank Arena in Bakersfield for the CIF State Wrestling Championships.

And for four members of the San Marino High School wrestling team, it was an opportunity to represent their school and compete against the toughest competition of the year.

San Marino senior Ryder Yoshitake and sophomores Mikel David Uyemura, Leah Lopez and Malia Manibog were the four Titans chosen for the honor.

“We had four state qualifiers, which is the most San Marino has had since 2016, so it’s been a number of years,” San Marino wrestling coach Morris Bird said. “We’ve had some standout individuals in that time, of course, but we haven’t had four state qualifiers since [2016], and that’s really exciting.”

But following three days of tough competition, the group fell just short of placing among the top eight individuals in their respective weight classes.

Yoshitake, Uyemura and Lopez each stretched their runs to the “blood rounds” of the tournament, hoping to end their campaign to place among the top eight wrestlers in the state, but the trio lost their respective consolation matches on Saturday. 

“Saturday morning was kind of a deflating morning,” Bird said. “Coming in, we felt really good about the matchups and felt like we can get three state medalists. There were three competitive matches, but none of went our way, so that was unfortunate.”

The lone senior of the Titans group, Yoshitake served as the No. 9 seed among all 144-pound wrestlers at the state championships.

“I lost in the medaling rounds at state but am proud of the growth I made over these four years at San Marino and thankful for all my coaches and teammates pushing me to be better,” Yoshitake told the Tribune.

Yoshitake capped off his senior year winning titles at the Rio Hondo League finals, the CIF Southern Section Individual Wrestling Championships and the CIF Southern Section Masters Meet.

“He’s accomplished a tremendous amount in his wrestling career at San Marino,” Bird said.

Yoshitake started his state bid with a resounding victory over Matthew Rangel of Escalon High School, but a 4-3 decision against No. 8 seed Alias Raby of Anderson High School sent the Titans senior into the consolation bracket.

The ninth-seeded Yoshitake rebounded in the consolation rounds, defeating Jacob Perez of Everett Alvarez High 4-2 to stay alive. The senior followed that up with a 9-2 victory over Jesus Loreto of Kingsburg High, but Yoshitake’s run ended against No. 3 seeded Tommy Thongseng of Exeter Union High School.

Photo courtesy Lee Schneiderman / San Marino senior Ryder Yoshitake concluded his high school wrestling career at the CIF State Wrestling Championships in Bakersfield.

“I know he’s put in a lot of effort in becoming a state medalist and losing that match in overtime was tough,” said Bird, who highlighted the senior’s resilience following the match, which will motivate him further during his wrestling career. Yoshitake will continue his athletic endeavors in college, attending Cornell University and competing among NCAA Division I talent.

Uyemura was the No. 10 seed in the 150-pound bracket. In his second straight state appearance, the sophomore fell short of placing in the top eight wrestlers in the weight class with a close 5-2 decision to No. 5-seeded Anthony Berg of Whitney High.

“It was definitely a learning experience,” Uyemura told the Tribune. The sophomore also noted that illness affected his performance in Bakersfield.

“I had gotten sick during the tournament, but there was nothing I could do about it, so I wrestled my hardest. The tournament was tough, but I expect to come back stronger next year.”

Uyemura defeated Wyatt Alexander of Del Oro High in a 6-1 decision in the Titans sophomore’s first-round matchup.

The sophomore fell into the consolation bracket after losing in a 3-2 decision to Jaxtyn Frost of Buchanan High. He began his run in the consolation rounds against Felicito Nunez of Shadow Hills High and won, continuing his run in the consolation bracket. Uyemura followed that up with an 8-5 decision victory over Jacob Belden of San Clemente before falling to No. 5 seed Berg.

“I came short of my goal of placing this year but my goal for next year will be to win it,” the sophomore told the Tribune. “All top eight wrestlers from my bracket this year were seniors, so I expect to do better next year. As long as I continue to make small improvements every day, things will go well.”

Uyemura finished the season with titles in the Rio Hondo League finals, CIF Individual Championships and Masters Meet.

Photo courtesy Lee Schneiderman / San Marino sophomore Leah Lopez is maintaining control of her opponent in a 105-pound matchup of the CIF State Wrestling Championships.

Lopez lost in her opener to No. 7 seed Lexie Capote of Pitman High in a 4-3 decision, but rebounded in the consolation bracket with a 9-4 decision victory over Alethia Tolentino of Coastal Academy.

The Titans sophomore followed that up with a second-round victory over Diana Barone of Birmingham Charter and a 9-1 win over Keira Siason of Everett Alvarez.

A second-round loss to No. 6 seed Kailey Salazar of Selma ended Lopez’s state run.

“It’s real competitive and she was up against one of the best girls in California because she went on to win a medal,” said Bird of Lopez. “I was really proud of the way she competed on Friday to win those three matches and finish in the top 12. It’s certainly a pretty amazing accomplishment in the grand scheme.”

In her first appearance at state, Manibog fell in the first round of the 100-pound bracket to Monee Cordero of Highland High School out of Bakersfield. The sophomore’s state journey ended in the first round of the consolation bracket, losing to Aliah Bertalotto of Turlock High in the third round. The sophomore concluded the season as CIF champion, and runner-up at the Masters Meet.

Now, with experience at the state competition on their resume, Bird, Manibog, Uyemura and Lopez turn their eyes to next season, with the group of grapplers expected to lead the Titans in growing the program and pursuing more success next year.

“Every day they’re going to see people who have competed at the highest level in the state,” said Bird of the San Marino wrestling team. “I hope that all of our other wrestlers who see them day in and day out are inspired by that and can see the vision for how they can accomplish as much as possible.” 

First published in the Feb. 29 issue of the San Marino Tribune

Photo courtesy Lee Schneiderman / Titans sophomore Malia Manibog made her first appearance at the CIF State Wrestling Championships, competing in the 100-pound weight class.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Most Popular

[bsa_pro_ad_space id=3]