Seven Samo wrestlers competed in the California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) competition this weekend, and two wrestlers, seniors Buzi Turner and Omar Solorza, will be moving on to compete at the next level at the California Masters Wrestling Tournament on Feb. 24 and 25.
Freshman Jake Beare, sophomore Doug Noteware and junior Jager Metz all competed on the first day of CIF, and freshman Ethan Matty, junior Spencer Gordon and seniors Turner and Solorza qualified to compete in the second round of CIF the next day as well. Turner and Solorza both took fifth place and will be moving on to the next level at the California Masters Wrestling Tournament this weekend. Matty placed eighth at CIF but will not be moving on to Masters.
Placing at CIF and moving on to Masters is a huge accomplishment, and the main goal of many Samo wrestlers. Turner says that this is something he has always wanted.
According to Turner, Masters is also a huge step towards the California State Championships. If Turner or Solorza place in the top nine at Masters, State is the next level. Turner also plans to wrestle in college, and wrestling at Masters will let him experience a higher level of wrestling similar to that of college wrestling.
“I feel really good qualifying for Masters,” Turner said. “It was my main goal [for] my senior year, and [also a] lifelong dream.”
To freshmen, the competition at CIF is significantly more challenging than what they see during the rest of their season. However, having qualified for CIF every year since his sophomore year, Turner was not surprised by the level of competition.
“The competition at CIF was pretty tough but I knew I could hang toe-to-toe with the tough competition because I have defeated over 12 CIF placers. Three of them have been CIF finalists and one a CIF Champion,” Turner said.
Solorza, who has been wrestling since his sophomore year, agrees that he felt prepared for the CIF competition.
“I am proud of myself because I haven’t wrestled for as long as the rest of the seniors and I still made it through [to Masters],” Solorza said. “It feels wonderful, [but] the competition at CIF was not that bad.”
Coach Mark Black added, “For [Turner and Solorza], their goal was to place at CIF and place high enough to make Masters, because that is the first qualifying tournament for State. Ideally, to make State is your ultimate goal, but you have got to wrestle through Masters to do that. They have a very difficult road, but I think they are capable of doing it.”
As a freshman, Matty was impressed by his team’s performance at CIF, but especially by the performances of Turner and Solorza. To see both of these upperclassmen move on to Masters is exciting for the whole team, and allows the underclassmen to set their own goals for the rest of their time on the Samo wrestling team.
“I feel everybody did really well, we have two seniors going on to Masters which is exciting,” Matty said. “I can’t wait to see how they do.”
Unlike Turner and Solorza, Matty was surprised by how tough the competition at CIF was. Though he was prepared, he did not know exactly what to expect until he got out onto the mat and wrestled.
“I went into CIF thinking ‘I’m gonna go out and wrestle hard and smart’ because I knew it was a higher level of competition,” Matty said. “I knew about it [but] I hadn’t experienced it yet. I was the only freshman in my weight class and I ended up wrestling all seniors. That was fun.”
Beare agrees that both freshmen had never experienced this kind of competition, but says that he felt well prepared.
“I learned a lot and the competition was totally different from earlier in the season,” Beare said. “The skill of all the wrestlers there was at a whole new level and it really tested me. However, I was very prepared thanks to my coaches and the upperclassmen on our team.”
Though Turner is graduating this year, he is excited and optimistic about next season because of how well the underclassmen performed this year.
“I was really impressed with freshman Ethan Matty,” Turner said. “Ethan was one match away from making Masters and that’s very impressive as a freshman. The team has lots of potential for next year’s season and I’m hoping pretty soon that my young brothers can bring [Samo] a CIF team title and victory.”
Freshman Maddy Tung and junior Jessica Walker both competed at girls’ CIF in Sacramento, CA. Having placed first, Walker will be competing at the CIF Girls’ State Wrestling Tournament on Feb. 24 and 25, and she has faith that she will take the gold.
“I believe that I will do well in State due to the mistakes I’ve learned from, my increased athleticism, my hardwork and my determination,” Walker said. Also, the fact that I placed second last year gives me the drive to bring the first place medal back home.”