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Wrestling preview: Top wrestlers to watch

STAFF WRITER

OCVarsity’s list of the top wrestlers to watch during the 2015-16 season.

Liam Cronin, Servite: Cronin returns after a remarkable junior season that saw him finish second in the state at 106 pounds. He was the Register’s wrestler of the year and he starts this season ranked second in the state at 113.

Jed Smith, Mater Dei: Smith is coming off a big season on the football field. Last year on the mats, he finished seventh at state at 170 pounds and earned a spot on the third-team All-County team.

Justin Thomas, Calvary Chapel: He is a three-time state medalist, including second last year. He is still chasing his first CIF title. Thomas also had fourth- and third-place finishes at the state tournament. He is ranked No. 1 in the state at 160.

Jeremy Thomas, Calvary Chapel: The other half of the Thomas Brothers team, Jeremy finished third at state last year at 145 pounds. He begins the season ranked second in the state at 152 pounds.

Josh Kawaguchi, Sonora: Kawaguchi finished second at Masters last year and went 1-2 at the state tournament. He enters this season ranked fourth in the state at 138 pounds and should be in the mix for the final eight at the state tournament.

Ryan Gutierrez, Brea Olinda: Gutierrez was under the radar for most of last season, but he finished first at CIF and third at Masters to become Brea Olinda’s first state qualifier since 2008. He is ranked 11th in the state at 126 pounds.

Morris Wilner, Calvary Chapel: Wilner had a steady junior season. He finished eighth at Masters and qualifed for the state tournament. He begins this season ranked 11th in the state at 170.

Jared Fernandez, Canyon: Fernandez is ranked 16th in the state at 170 pounds. He narrowly missed qualifying for the state tournament last season. He finished third at league finals and second at CIF.

Brandon Hernandez, Capistrano Valley: Hernandez battled through some injuries last season, but he was able to win a CIF title. He went 2-2 at Masters and will be a key piece again this season for the Cougars.

Blake Vasquez, Fountain Valley: Vasquez had a good run last season, claiming Sunset League and CIF titles before being forced to the sideline. He is back at 160 this season and looking to make big moves and get to the CIF state tournament.

More in 2015-16 wrestling preview:

Fountain Valley's Vasquez motivated to have a happier ending

O.C. top 10 teams

Other wrestlers to watch

Girls wrestling preview: Top wrestlers to watch

Important dates

Contact the writer: dcalhoun@ocregister.com


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