Jesse Flores admits to getting in his own head.
Clovis’ Seth Nevills boasted an impressive body of work entering Saturday night’s CIF State Boys Wrestling Championship 285-pound title match, with four pins in less than 90 seconds.
The Delhi senior, who had been pinned by Nevills in two previous matchups, said the gaudy numbers had him over thinking things as he took the mat at Rabobank Arena. The little bit of doubt was enough to throw off the form that Flores had displayed on his path to the championship match, and set the stage for Nevills to record a fall at 59 seconds.
While clearly disappointed, the second-place finish is still the best in Hawks history and forever writes Flores’ name into Delhi lore.
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“The strategy going in was to try and stay in it and compete for as long as I could,” Flores said. “I wanted to just take it round by round, getting what I could get and trying to deny him what he could get. I was definitely worried about no one making it out of the first round against him. I over thought it and psyched myself out.”
Nevills, who became the first wrestler in state history to complete the first three years of his high school career undefeated at the varsity level, was the aggressor from the onset.
The Clovis junior caught Flores off balance, scoring a quick take down out of the gate. Thirty seconds later, he turned Flores onto his back. It looked for a second like Flores might survive with a near fall and extend the match, but Nevills recovered and earned the fall.
“It wasn’t a great start,” Flores said. “I wasn’t expecting him to snap me down that fast. I had too much momentum going and he took me down. I truly did think I was going to get out of it. I saw an opportunity, but I guess I wasn’t fast enough. He caught me in a move, and you can’t let great wrestlers catch you in a move and hope to get away with it.
“I had a lot of people come out and support me. My family was here, my workout partner from MJC, friends from the football team and my best friend Macy. It means a lot to go on a run like this with them here. A state title would have felt a lot better than second place, but making history is making history.”
Flores was one of three Stanislaus District wrestlers to have their state-title hopes come up just short.
Oakdale’s Abel Garcia (170 pounds) and Coleby Harlan (182) also reached their respective finals, but settled for second.
Garcia recorded a couple escapes, but could never get Palm Desert’s Anthony Mantanona down to the mat in a 5-2 decision. Harlan trailed Buchanan’s Anthony Montalvo 5-2 entering the third round. The junior made things interesting by quickly scoring an escape to open the third, but Montalvo defensively countered every attempt at a take down the rest of the way for a 5-3 victory.
The Mustangs had the area’s best showing with four meadlists, including Bronson Harmon (fourth at 160) and Ricky Torres (sixth at 132). Oakdale tied for seventh overall with Concord De La Salle at 83 points. Buchanan ran away with the team title with 213.5.
Pitman also had a good showing with a pair of state medalists. Isaiah Perez closed out his season with a fourth-place finish at 170, while freshman Izzy Tubera took seventh at 106.
Hilmar’s Cody Rentrfo became the Yellowjackets’ first state medalist since 1992, taking seventh place at 182. Central Catholic’s Steven Abbate rounded out the area’s meadlists with a fifth-place showing at 138.
Two more area wrestlers were singled out as ambassadors of the sport as Golden Valley’s Brady Mello and Pitman’s Joseph La Rosa each received the CIF Sportsmanship Award for their bodies of work over the course of the two-day tournament.