James Logan High senior Clayton Hartwell sure seems ready. He has put in the time, dominated the North Coast Section competition and earned his place on 'The Wall' -- home to the program's section title winners or state placewinners -- in the Colts' wrestling room.
Now he wants to win a state title, as the California Interscholastic Federation Championships, a two-day, double-elimination event, begins at 9 a.m. Friday at Rabobank Arena in Bakersfield.
"I feel like I'm a definitely a contender to win the state title," Hartwell said.
The Colts qualified six for state out of the NCS championships, headed by Logan's three section champions -- Hartwell at 195 pounds; Jacob Donato at 120; and Jacob Macalolooy at 138.
Logan coach Eli Bagaoisan believes his team has a shot at a top-10 finish if his dynamic senior trio all lands on the medal stand as top-eight placers.
"Getting three medals, that's our goal," Bagaoisan said. "That would be an awesome accomplishment."
Hartwell (42-4) is ranked third in the state by The California Wrestler. He seems poised for something special.
"I think he's ready," Bagaoisan said. "He's been training pretty much all year long, and he's primed to have a good state tournament, along with the rest of our team."
Donato (34-5) is ranked eighth in the state, and Macalooloy (39-6), who missed placing by one match last year, is ranked ninth.
Stephen Abas won the Colts' last state title in 1996, when Abas and teammates Jesse Reta, Mike Wright and Marc Cole finished first, second, third and fourth. Logan finished third as a team that year, two points behind champion Calvary Chapel.
"We feel we do belong," Bagaoisan said. "We've been one of the top teams in our section, but as far as the state-meet level, we're trying to get back to where we once were in the mid-1990s, when we were consistently in the top 15 in the state."
Hartwell, a two-time NCS champion like Macalolooy, has enjoyed a stellar season with six tournament titles. Two of his losses were against the state's top-two ranked competitors at 195 pounds -- No. 1 Ian Baker of La Costa Canyon (San Diego Section), Dylan Bollinger of Sultana (Southern Section).
"I feel good," said Hartwell, who finished sixth in the state last year. "I've gone up against the top two guys in the state and I lost, but I've worked and made up good game-plans against them. I'm prepared for them."
If Hartwell wins his first three matches, he could run into Central Section champion Matt Weiss of Clovis in the quarterfinals. It would mark a rematch of the Mission San Jose Invitational final won by Hartwell. If he makes the semifinals, Hartwell could face Bollinger, who beat him 7-6 this season.
"Clayton is a confident guy, and if he's on the right mindset," Bagaoisan said, "then he can beat anybody."
WHERE: Rabobank Arena, Bakersfield
WHEN: Wrestling begins at 9 a.m. Friday and Saturday; finals are at 7 p.m. Saturday
ONLINE: Follow Matt Schwab on Twitter at twitter.com/schwab_matt for updates from the tournament.