Last March at the CIF State Championships, Nick Fiegener was out-muscled by one of the best wrestlers in the nation in the 160-pound title match.
Pinned by Isaiah Martinez of Lemoore, Fiegener set out to do one thing before this season – become the strongest he can be.
On Saturday at the Tim Brown Memorial Wrestling Tournament at the Jackson Sports Complex, Fiegener put together a dominating performance that was built on late hours in the gym in the offseason, bulking up to 182 chiseled pounds.
The senior at Folsom High School went 5-0 in the tournament, with four of his matches coming by first-round pin, including the title match against Alec Gamboa of Madera.
“I just want to push myself to be the most dominant I can be so I have that confidence and momentum to carry it on in the state finals,” said Fiegener, the state’s top-ranked 182-pounder, according to www.thecaliforniawrestler.com.
He’s not the only star on the Folsom squad. Curtis Booth (120 pounds) and Lorenzo De La Riva (145) also won titles as the Bulldogs finished second out of 94 schools in the two-day event that has become an unofficial precursor for what to expect in the postseason, which begins next month.
“It’s cool. Our team is doing well as a whole,” Fiegener said. “It’s not just a one-guy standout team. We are a dominant team. We are a force now.”
Blackburn takes rubber match – Del Oro senior Isaac Blackburn is a calm and disciplined wrestler who relies on defense to defeat his opponent.
But in the 106-pound title match, Blackburn was an offensive force, scoring a takedown with just seconds remaining in overtime to break a 0-0 stalemate and claim a 2-0 win over Chris Marin of Clovis West.
It was the third meeting this season between the top-10 state-ranked opponents, who split the first two meetings with 1-0 scores.
“I noticed … he wasn’t looking at me, and his foot was right there,” Blackburn said. “It was a pretty easy choice to grab that ankle.”
Del Oro finished in fourth place in the tournament.
Rising star – Oakmont coach Justin Castrillo knows a thing or two about what a state title hopeful looks like. Twice in the past three seasons, Oakmont has fielded a state champion (Jake Elliott in 2011 and Peter Santos in 2013). This season, Castrillo has high hopes for another star pupil.
Kaleio Romero won the 160-pound title with a 5-0 win over No. 6 state-ranked John Leal of Chico. Romero went into the tournament ranked 18th in the state, but his coach believes the senior has a chance at greatness after failing to place at the Sac-Joaquin Section Masters meet last season because of an injury.
“It’s hard to explain to people that a kid who has never been to state is pretty much a kid who is going to be in the top eight at state, if not top three, if not a state champion,” Castrillo said. “Kaleio is going to go from never being there to the podium. That just doesn’t happen much.”
Still hungry – Casa Roble senior 285-pounder Jake Minshew rolled through the field en route a third-round pin of Hexton Coronado of Clovis in the final. Minshew is 33-0 this season but wasn’t all smiles afterward due to a 3-2 decision over Dominic Balmer of Woodcreek in the semifinals.
“I did terrible,” Minshew said. “I came in here with 28 straight pins, and I just didn’t do what I came here to do.”
Minshew is ranked ninth in the state and is the front-runner for a Masters title.