Corcoran High School freshman Joe Romero qualified for the California State Championships over the weekend. Romero competed at the Central Section Masters tournament at East Bakersfield High in the 132 pound weight division. Romero needed to place in the top 10 to advance to the State Championships and he brought home a ninth place medal.
The day started off with a tough defeat as the young Panther dropped a 2-1 decision to state ranked senior Carlos Herrera of Bakersfield High. Dropping into the consolation bracket Romero ran into another senior from Kern County, Centennial’s Etinne Armijo. Armijo came out strong and built a substantial lead going into the final period. Romero scored twice in the final period but dropped the match 9-5.
Dropping his first two matches placed Romero in a do or die situation. He had a win or go home match against senior Brian Cerda of Fresno. Cerda wrestled with everything he had and lead for 5:50 minutes of the six minute match. Romero needed a takedown to force overtime and with ten seconds left took one last attempt at a double leg and finished for two points. The takedown forced overtime and Cerda was quickly on the attack, Cerda got in on a deep double leg Romero countered with a chin whip for two points and the victory clinching a state berth.
Romero still had one last match against Jason Grigsby of Exeter. The match was low scoring with Romero nabbing a takedown and a turn on Grigsby in the second period. Romero wrestled solid and shut out his opponent the rest of the way winning the match 4-0. Romero came back from an 0-2 start to finish 2-2 at the tournament.
In qualifying for the state tournament, Romero becomes the first freshman in CHS history to make the tournament.
“It’s a pretty remarkable achievement, there are over 1,000 wrestling teams in California and for anybody to make the final bracket of 40 is special. Romero being a freshman makes it even more special,” said coach Andy Saldana.
Coach Saldana and coach Roman Salcedo are happy with the accomplishment but are not going to let Romero be content with just making the tournament.
“This week we are training Joe up to make a push for a medal, correcting all the little flaws we see and coming up with a game plan, hopefully it works and we get on that podium. No matter what it’s been a great year and Joe has done all we as coaches have asked of him and exceeded all expectations,” added Saldana.
The CIF State Championships take place tomorrow (Friday) and Saturday at the Rabobank Arena in Bakersfield.