Caleb Flores seemed to have everything going against him Friday as he entered the Spanos Center at University of the Pacific.
A freshman from Covina Northview, Flores had never been in the pressure-packed environment of the state championships. A week earlier, he endured a confidence-draining loss in the first round at the Southern Section Masters meet.
But Flores took the mat Friday with driven determination, the poise of a veteran and the desire to prove his loss last week was a fluke. So far, so good.
Flores pinned Paul Medina of Chatsworth in the first round, then dispatched highly regarded Brett Land of Bakersfield, 9-4, in the second. He pinned Bryan Ceglio of Los Gatos in the quarterfinals and suddenly finds himself poised to wrestle Brian Moreno of Santa Ana Foothill in the semifinals today.
"At the Masters, I guess you could say I choked," Flores said. "I went in there with a pretty big head and that guy shocked me. It was a great learning experience."
Flores regrouped and made his way through the consolation bracket to take fourth place at the Masters. The wrestler who handed him the first-round loss, Josh Flores of West Covina South Hills, did not qualify for the state championships.
His opponent today is no slouch. Moreno, a sophomore, won the Masters title. The two did not meet this season.
Clovis is in control of the team race with 74 points and five wrestlers in the semifinals. Poway is second with 67.5 points and four in the semifinals. Vacaville is third with 62 points and three semifinalists. Santa Ana Calvary Chapel, which is fourth with 54 points, had Mario Estrada (119), David Jauregui (135), Yuri Kalika (171) and Joe Williams (189) advance to the semifinals. Williams won the 171-pound title last year.
"We came here to win," Calvary Chapel Coach Josh Holiday said. "I thought we could get five in the finals and then we'd be tough to beat, but now we're gonna have to do it with four and a third place."
Arturo Basulto of Arroyo Grande, the defending heavyweight champion, pinned two opponents and got a forfeit victory in another as he also advanced to the semifinals.
Sean Prentice of Rosemead, the 112-pound Masters champion and among the state title favorites, defaulted in his quarterfinal against Curtis Schurcamp of Escalon.