BAKERSFIELD — Branden Rullan is taking the long road to the medal rounds.
The Sierra senior had a tough first-round draw in the 45th annual CIF Boys Wrestling State Championships at Rabobank Arena on Friday, but he remains in contention to place after winning three straight consolation matches.
Rullan’s goal was to make it to the second day of state after coming up short last year, when he started with back-to-back wins — the first via forfeit — but dropped two of his next three. He earned his second berth to the tournament after placing fourth at 132 pounds in the Sac-Joaquin Section Masters Championships last week.
Rullan injured his left shoulder at Masters and forfeited the third-round match. He said it didn’t affect him at all Friday when tangling with Gilroy’s Alex Felix, the Central Coast Section champion and No. 3-seeded grappler in the 132-pound bracket. Felix won handily by major decision 14-1, and he later knocked off No. 6 Ricky Torres of Oakdale 7-2 to reach the winners-bracket semifinals.
“It was a tough match,” Rullan said. “I knew that I had to try something, but he was just too strong.”
Rullan bounced back, pinning Jimmy Alvarez from Southwest of the San Diego Section in 2 minutes, 17 seconds. It was a short stay for Alvarez, who was earlier stuck by top-seeded Chris Deloza of Clovis North in 3:32.
Up next was Armando Murillo from Rowland (Southern Section), whom Rullan outpointed, 6-0. Rullan then dominated Nick Camacho (Paramount, SS) in an 11-1 decision.
“My coach (Alex Nuanez) studied their matches and told me not to tie up with them,” Rullan said. “He said I have a good outside single and that’s what I did, just stuck with the basics.”
It won’t be any easier for Rullan as he faces elimination this morning. Southern Section runner-up and No. 10 seed Anthony Le of Laguna Hills is the first roadblock. The winner goes toe to toe with fifth-seeded Scotty Kiyono, the SDS champion out of Poway.
Consolation matches begin at 9.
“It’s my senior year, so my plan is to just give it my all,” Rullan said. “I’m going to wrestle every match like it’s my last one and leave it on the mat.”