AT A GLANCE
What: CIF State Championships
Where: Rabobank Arena in Bakersfield
When: Friday and Saturday. Wrestling begins at 9 a.m. both days.
When it comes to high school wrestling, there is no bigger stage than the California Interscholastic Federation State Championships, which kick off Friday at Rabobank Arena in Bakersfield.
For the second straight season, not only has Ripon High’s Ryan Mackey earned an invitation to wrestle at the state tournament, but he’s also been the only area grappler to earn that distinction.
After going 2-2 last year in Bakersfield, Mackey stated at the outset of the 2008-09 campaign that it was his goal to finish fifth place or higher at state this season, earning the distinction as the highest finisher in Ripon High history.
Three years ago, Ripon’s Martin Beeler finished sixth at the Sac-Joaquin Section Masters Tournament after an injury default cut his tournament short. Beeler went on to finish sixth overall at state.
Ironically, Mackey faces a similar set of circumstances this time around.
After dislocating his shoulder in the match that qualified him for state last Friday at the University of the Pacific, Mackey was forced to default out of his remaining two matches and settle for sixth overall.
Mackey left the Masters early and saw Dr. Steve Herrin in Ripon for therapy, and after taking it easy on his shoulder in the room this week, Mackey is confident that he will be able to wrestle at state.
“The shoulder is a lot better, but it’s still not up to par,” Mackey said. “I think I’ll be ready to go. It’s going to bug me, but it will be fine. The adrenaline will take over (on the mat).”
Mackey, who is currently rated No. 3 in the Sac-Joaquin Section and an honorable mention statewide at 171 pounds by TheCaliforniaWrestler.com, will face Alex Brown of Poway High in the first round.
Brown is not rated, either statewide, or in the San Diego Section according to The California Wrestler.
“I feel like I can perform well,” Mackey said. “We just have to get that first match out of the way.”
Mackey has a long history of slow starts at postseason tournaments, but hasn’t experienced the same setbacks in regular-season tournaments.
It’s hard to put a finger on the slow starts, both for Mackey and his coaching staff, but Mackey says this time around, it shouldn’t be an issue.
“Because I was there last year, this time I know what to expect,” Mackey said. “Last year I was a bit intimidated, I had butterflies.”
If Mackey makes it out of the first round unscathed, he will face Palma’s Devan Santos in the second round. Santos is unranked in the Central Coast Section.
“I worked in the room (Wednesday),” Mackey said. “We shadow wrestled a bit, but took it easy on the shoulder. I’ve been working on my own with the conditioning, running sprints.”
Mackey said he will take a cortisone shot heading into state to help deal with the pain in his shoulder, but because he is a defensive wrestler and doesn’t shoot as often as some of his opponents, the wear and tear on the 0 should remain at a minimum.
Weigh-ins begin at 7 a.m. Friday morning and gates open an hour later.
Wrestling will begin at 9 a.m. both Friday and Saturday, and the championship finals begin at 7:15 p.m. on Saturday.