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Wrestling is the CCCAA State Runner-Up; Boyd (165 lbs), Chavez-Morales (184 lbs) and Birch (197 lbs) are all individual State Champions

Wrestling is the CCCAA State Runner-Up; Boyd (165 lbs), Chavez-Morales (184 lbs) and Birch (197 lbs) are all individual State Champions

Entering the 2023 California Community College Athletic Association (3C2A) State Tournament as the third-ranked team in the state, the Sacramento City Panthers brought a considerable amount of enthusiasm with them to San Luis Obispo – the site of this season's culminating event. Despite their runner-up finishes to Fresno City in both the North Regional Dual Championship and North Regional Tournament, both decided by the slimmest of margins, the Panthers did not waver in their pursuit of the 3C2A State Championship. Instead, they rose to the occasion, displaying a level of camaraderie and confidence fit for a championship team, as well as showcasing just how good they were on the mat.


The Panthers emerged from the two-day tournament as the State runner-ups, crowning three individual champions among nine overall State medalists, scoring 163.5-points – 18-points behind team-champions Mt. San Antonio College (Mt. SAC) and a whopping 41.5-points ahead of North Regional rival Fresno City, who finished in third-place. 


On Day 1, the Sac City contingent, composed of ten wrestlers, set a pace that they would hold throughout the event, pushing seven into the quarterfinals during the tournament's first session. As the second session commenced, true freshman Ben Quilpa (133lbs) ignited the Sac City crowd and team with a heroic effort, storming back from a 6-0 deficit to defeat Pedro Lacerda of Mt. SAC via fall in the final period of regulation. Quilpa's efforts guaranteed him a top-6 tournament finish and a spot in the tournament semifinals. Spurred by their lightweight's performance, Sac City wrestlers would eventually push five additional wrestlers into the tournament semifinals: true freshman Ahmaad Lewis (141), redshirt freshman Ethan Birch (197), true sophomores Ethan Boyd (165) and Andrew Hamant (174), and redshirt sophomore Adrian Chavez-Morales (184). 


Meanwhile, in the consolation bracket, four Panthers earned wins to score crucial team points. True freshman Caden Diamond (157) was able to earn a major decision for his team before losing in the tournament "bloodround," settling for a top-12 finish in the State and a win shy of a State medal. Redshirt sophomore and 2021 3C2A State medalist Alfredo Trejo-Mendoza (157) and true freshman heavyweight Evan Glines (285) both earned back-to-back victories in the consolation to guarantee themselves top-8 State medals. True freshman Ammar Khan (149) rebounded from a loss to eventual State champion Brandon Bollinger of Victor Valley College in the quarterfinals, winning his consolation bout to earn a top-8 State medal of his own.


With nine wrestlers still in the tournament on Day 2, the Sac City Panthers continued their momentum, pushing three into the State finals. Although three Panthers fell in their semifinal, they joined their teammates in the consolation and returned to their winning ways. By the end of the third session of the tournament, all six wrestlers in the consolation had pushed themselves into the top-6 of their respective weight-classes, performances that built the Panthers a comfortable lead ahead of third-place Fresno City. Of note, Trejo-Mendoza rebounded from his first-loss of the tournament to win five-straight matches in a row, scoring three major decisions and two falls to finish with a 3rd-place State medal and 3C2A All-American honors. Also earning All-American honors was Ahmaad Lewis, who finished in 4th-place. Quilpa would settle for 6th-place, while teammates Khan, Hamant, and Glines each placed 5th with Khan and Glines winning their final bouts by fall.


With their top-2 team-finish all but assured, the stage was set for the remaining three Panthers in the State finals. The best they could do was win three individual State titles – and that's what they went out to achieve. At 165lbs, Ethan Boyd completed a dominating run to a State championship in the finals, avenging his only 3C2A loss on the year via a 3rd period fall over Josh Thomas of Sierra College. Boyd, a State runner-up last year at 157lbs, pinned his way through the tournament. Adrian Chavez-Morales completed his dominant season in the 3C2A with yet-another first-period fall, pinning Bryan Thorne of Skyline College in just over a minute to capture the 184 lbs State title. Chavez-Morales, whose lone loss on the year was to an NCAA Division 1 opponent from Oregon State, is set to compete for Southern Oregon University in the spring semester. Like Boyd, Chavez-Morales also pinned his way through the State tournament in a performance that earned him the Gorriaran Trophy for the most pins in the least time in the tournament, notching 4 falls in a total of 3:05. The final Panther to compete was Ethan Birch at 197 lbs, who faced a familiar opponent in Santa Rosa Junior College's Rayhan Jaleel. Birch had defeated Jaleel multiple times during the season, including in the Regional finals. Despite conceding the first takedown to trail 3-1, Birch took the lead in the second period via a 3-point nearfall. In the third period, a reversal by Jaleel gave Santa Rosa the lead, but Birch tied the match with an escape, 5-5. With the riding time advantage secured, Birch effectively led 6-5 and scored a takedown in the closing seconds of the match to win his State title, 9-5. Like Chavez-Morales, Birch was undefeated against 3C2A competition all season.


The 2023 Sac City wrestlers put together an incredible ten-man performance, with each wrestler contributing to what was ultimately a State team runner-up finish. Their nine individual State medals, including five top-4 All-American honors and a perfect three-for-three showing in the State finals, elevated Sac City to its highest team-finish at the State tournament since 2018.


-Written by Assistant Coach, Darius Levan