A state championship is just what the Doc ordered
Jake Elliott’s climb to a state championship was stamped Saturday night in front of a crowd of 6,447 at Rabobank Arena in Bakersfield, but it was defined in January at a talent-filled event in Clovis.
It was at the Doc Buchanan Invitational that Elliott defeated Jesse Baldazo of Brentwood-Liberty, Damien Arredondo of Clovis-Buchanan and defending state champion David Ferry of Oakdale, with a loss to Hayden Scharbrough of Glendora thrown in en route to a third-place finish in the 145-pound division.
And who stood across from the Oakmont High School junior in the final of the CIF State Championships on Saturday night but Baldazo, who Elliott beat a second time, this one a 4-2 decision for the gold. And who finished third in the state but Arredondo? And who finished fourth but Scharbrough, who Elliott took out 10-5 in the semifinals.
Elliott’s list grows more impressive in that he defeated Brenton Visnoski of Huntington Beach-Edison 3-0 to advance to the quarterfinals and then won an 8-5 decision over Devin Poindexter of Clovis North to advance to the semis. Visnoski and Poindexter each earned medals at the state meet, Visnoski finishing sixth and Poindexter seventh.
“I showed up to wrestle, and I was focused,” Elliott said Monday after returning to school. “I would like to thank my lord and savior Jesus Christ.”
Wrestling season is long and grueling. It starts in October with practice every day, and Oakmont coach Dave Wells said wrestlers can hit several stressful bumps on the road to the postseason – getting “a little banged up” or having to cut weight.
“It’s hard to do, but he stayed focused and actually picked up his intensity throughout the season,” Wells said of Elliott, who had a season record of 39-1. “He wanted to win state, which was a high goal for a junior. He didn’t practice like he wanted it to end.”
Nor did Elliott have to stress out over his weight. He hydration tested at 135 pounds before the Doc Buchanan, but Wells suggested Elliott wrestle at his natural weight. They were on to something.
“I beat all those guys at my weight,” Elliott said, giving credit to his coaches. “I look back now, and because I didn’t cut weight, my body wasn’t wearing down. I was able to lift and eat but at the same time keeping my weight in the perfect range. There was no extra stress in my mind. I was completely rejuvenated and prepared.”
Elliott won Sierra Foothill League and Sac-Joaquin Section Division II championships in 2010, but a rough draw at the Masters Meet left him 2-2 and frustrated.
“I let some emotions show,” Elliott said. “But at the end of the day, I realized it was a building block, and I needed to work harder. After I started training over the summer, I started seeing success on the mat, but honestly, I didn’t know what my level was at this season until I hit Doc B.”
Not even ranked in the top 30 in the preseason, Elliott went into the Doc Buchanan as the 10th seed with an admitted chip on his shoulder.
He lost to Scharbrough 6-1 in the second round but also took down several ranked wrestlers on his way to a third-place medal. In what he described as his first state-caliber match, Elliott learned from the loss.
“I made some stupid mistakes in that match,” Elliott said. “I was ready for him in the semifinals (at state).”
Wells said it’s hard to get inside the tall and lanky Scharbrough, who went into the State Championships having won the Southern Section title. Elliott trailed 3-1 going into the third period. Wells told Elliott to put on a show in the final two minutes.
“Do anything you can. Just go for it. Create a scramble. See what happens,” Wells said to Elliott. “Jake flew into him and locked up a near cradle.”
A takedown and two-point near-fall put Elliott up by two.
“Wrestling is 90 percent mental, 10 percent physical,” Elliott said, adding that the victory over Scharbrough “was tough and so rewarding. I knew it was going to come down to the wire. When I beat him, that was one of the greatest feelings. I expunged that loss, and I’m a finalist.”
Elliott is a student who watches video of his matches on his way home from tournaments, hits the rewind button and checks his motion. Wells said Elliott warmed up well before his matches and slept well at night – after each close match and even a turbulent arrival down south. Both rear tires on the car blew about eight miles out of Bakersfield.
“I thought we were going to get hit by a semi or flip,” Wells said.
They waited an hour and a half before a tow truck drove them into town.
When Elliott defeated Baldazo, Wells sat there with his video camera and soaked in the moment. And so did Elliott.
“It really hit me when I got my hand raised,” he said. “You know, in the sixth and seventh grade, that was my dream – to be a state champ.
“I’m in the clouds. I’m still running on a high. The emotions of the crowd cheering and my coaches just made me feel amazing. This is something I’ve worked so hard for. Honestly, that was my goal. You want to set your goals high. I didn’t know if it was going to happen this year or next year. I’ve been off the mat for about two days, and I want to get back on the mat right now.”
Contact Bill Poindexter at email@example.com.
JAKE ELLIOTT BY THE NUMBERS
Weight class: 145 pounds
Season record: 39-1
Tournament titles: 7
CIF State Championships: Defeated Zach Mitchell of Temecula Valley 12-2, defeated Brenton Visnoski of Huntington Beach-Edison 3-0, defeated Devin Poindexter of Clovis North 8-5, defeated Hayden Scharbrough of Glendora 10-5, defeated Jesse Baldazo of Brentwood-Liberty 4-2.
HOW THE REST OF THE LOCALS FARED
Here are the results of other wrestlers from Roseville-area schools at the CIF State Championships last weekend in Bakersfield:
Gavin Andrews (285): The junior heavyweight didn’t compete because of an injured knee. Andrews placed fifth in the state last year.
William Anderson (189): He lost to Preston Quam of San Clemente by 20-4 technical fall and Bradley Beaudette of Newport Harbor 5-3.
Andrew Broadland (125): He lost to Blake Lowrie of Laguna Hills 5-0 and Gilbert Gomez of Colony 8-2.
Johnny Cooley (145): He lost to Trevor Devestern of Little Rock by pin at 2:17 and Jack Fausone of Casa Grande 8-2.
Adam Wagner (152): He reeled off three wins in a row after losing his opening match to Alfredo Nava-Arroyo of Corona-Santiago 5-3. Wagner came back to defeat Jason Zecchini of Mt. Whitney 7-0, Ian Messaros of Cupertino 10-8 and Brad Ojala of West Covina 6-4 before falling to Blake Thompson of Clovis 1-0.
Angelo Ciaraglia (140): He lost to Eli Mack of Alta Loma 9-6 and Rico Aguilar of Selma 6-3.
Peter Santos (135): He strung together four wins after being pinned by Shane Yacuta of Porterville at 1:27 in his opener. Santos beat Luke McDonald of Servite by default, pinned Antonio Perez of San Diego-Central Union at 1:29, defeated Jacob Leon of Alta Loma 6-0 and won a 5-1 decision over Jesse Taylor of Poway. Santos then lost a 6-3 decision to Shane Tate of Oakdale.
Quinn Walker (119): He lost to Victor Lopez of San Diego-Calexico 8-2 and Martin Sandoval of Porterville 6-4.
Dylan Jankovich (130): He lost to Juan Salas of Clovis 8-4 and Mike Longo of Laguna Hills 4-1.