BAKERSFIELD When the lights go down and the stage goes up at the CIF State Wrestling Championships, anything can happen.
Bella Vista junior Shayne Tucker experienced that reality Saturday, taking second at 138 pounds despite entering the weekend ranked No. 1 in the state in the weight class.
"On the bigger stage, guys come in more hyped," Tucker said. "The crowd gets on your side, and you feel like you can do anything."
Brian Sergi of College Park of Pleasant Hill was ranked ninth entering the weekend but erased a 2-1 deficit heading into the third period to score a 4-3 win over Tucker.
Oakmont senior Jake Elliott (152) and Foothill heavyweight Michael Lowman also placed second in the prime-time session with the dim house lights and raised wrestling platform falling via pins to nationally ranked competitors.
"Unless you've already been there, you can't imagine it," Lowman said of the final matches. "It's a whole new experience; it's almost like a different sport."
Elliott had experienced the finals before, having won the 145-pound title last year. Elliott was favored in that match but entered Saturday's meeting the decided underdog against national No. 2 Isaiah Martinez, also a returning state titleist, of Lemoore.
"I hate to say it, but you have to lose sometimes," Elliott said of his first-round pin. "Matches like that make you who you are."
Underdog has his day For about five minutes during Saturday's afternoon session, Lowman was the most popular wrestler in the arena.
He got the biggest pop of the weekend when he prevailed 4-3 in double overtime over Clovis' Nick Nevills, the state's top-ranked heavyweight and returning state champion. As the bout progressed through the third period and overtime, fans gradually latched onto the match on Mat 4 as action continued around them on five others, building to a crescendo when the final seconds ticked off.
A hearty Sac-Joaquin Section contingent rooted Lowman on, as did seemingly anyone not affiliated with Clovis, which enjoyed a New York Yankees-like level of domination in the team competition throughout the weekend, garnering a pinstripe level of envy.
"That (support) felt good," said Lowman, Foothill's first-ever state placer. "My favorite thing in the world is being the underdog."
Fighting back Tucker's Bella Vista teammate and fellow junior, Victor Trujillo, finished sixth at 120 pounds. It is the ninth time Bella Vista has had multiple state placers in the same year and the first time since 1987.
To get to that point, Trujillo had to erase a 5-1 deficit late in the second period of his first consolation match against Fountain Valley's Dean O'Bourke, the Southern Section champion, Saturday morning. Had he lost, he would have finished in a tie for 12th.
"He was only ahead because of some dumb mistakes, so I knew I could come back," Trujillo said. "I wanted this extremely bad, so I had to step up."
Trujillo scored a quick takedown and a two-point near-fall to get within one at 5-4 entering the third. O'Bourke then was called for stalling, and the match went to overtime, where Trujillo scored a double-leg takedown for a 7-5 win.
A good sport Elk Grove senior 220-pounder Josh Letuligasenoa was one of 12 wrestlers who received the CIF's Pursuing Victory with Honor sportsmanship award in a ceremony before the finals.
Fifth place: Josh Miranda, Poway, pinned Victor Trujillo, Bella Vista, :39.
Fifth place: Jake Smith, Newark Memorial, def. Connor Pollock, Folsom, 1-0.
Championship: Brian Sergi, College Park (Pleasant Hill), def. Shayne Tucker, Bella Vista, 4-3.
Championship: Isaiah Martinez, Lemoore, pinned Jake Elliott, Oakmont, 1:26.
Fifth place: Keaton Subjeck, Oak Ridge, def. Matthew Tsarnas, Healdsburg, 7-1.
Fifth place: Peter Santos, Oakmont, def. Micah Macias, Sonora, 3-2.
Third place: Danny Chaid, Bellarmine, def. Khymba Johnson, Center, 3-2.
Championship: Johnny Schupp, Vacaville, pinned Michael Lowman, Foothill, 2:59.