BAKERSFIELD -- East Bay competitors showed they belonged on the big stage at the California Interscholastic Federation Wrestling Championships.
Eight locals, including the James Logan High trio of Artemio Flores, Jacob Macalolooy and Clayton Hartwell, advanced to Friday night's quarterfinals at Rabobank Arena.
Even though only Flores earned a spot in the semifinals, at 126 pounds, the North Coast Section participants made their mark. Flores, who had a 3-2 mark at state last year, walloped Wasco freshman Joshua Hokit 11-0 in the quarters.
"Artemio has a great draw," Logan coach Eli Bagaoisan said of Flores' Saturday morning matchup against Wyatt Wyckoff of Paradise, the Northern Section champion. "He's never wrestled the kid before, but he's on a mission to win the title. He's in the zone right now."
Clearly, the quarterfinals took a little of the hop from the step of the NCS contingent.
Freedom junior Ricky Coster, one of three East Contra Costa County quarterfinalists, fell 5-1 against Julian Flores of San Marino (Southern Section).
Liberty senior Austin Solari dropped a tense 2-0 decision against highly touted San Diego Section champion Ralphy Tovar of Poway.
Heritage senior Joey Vigil, who wrestled brilliantly and won by fall in the second and third rounds, ran into a Southern Section powerhouse in Zahid Valencia of St. John Bosco-Bellflower in the quarterfinals. Valencia, a returning state champion ranked No. 1 in the country, pinned Vigil in 4:35 after taking a big lead.
Semifinalists clinch at least a top-six spot, and medals go to the top eight in each division. Those who lost in the quarterfinals need one more win Saturday morning in the fifth round of consolation to earn a medal.
Others falling in the quarterfinals were Livermore's Tyler Rardon (152 pounds), Granada's Kyle Campiotti (160), along with Logan's Macalolooy (138) and Hartwell (195). De La Salle, which won a fifth consecutive NCS team title last week, advanced Nathan Cervantes (120), Payton Russom (145) and Aaron Pease (170) into the third round. None of them made it to the quarterfinals.
Campiotti enjoyed quite a ride this season, considering he failed to qualify for state last year as a gifted three-sport athlete. He lost just 3-1 against Ray Lomas of Central Catholic-Modesto in Friday's quarterfinals after winning by fall in the third round.
In the second round, Vigil won with a quick pin over Reedley's AJ Rosas, then he steamrollered Jorge Carbajal of Bloomington of the Southern Section, winning by fall in the second period.
Coster beat Madera's Daniel Ruiz 2-0 in the second round, and Amador Valley junior Tommy Yozzo (126), who finished third at NCS, carved out two tough wins to advance to the third round. Yozzo then lost 3-1 against Southern Section champion Justin Thomas, a heralded freshman from Santiago-Corona, before bowing out in consolation by injury default.
Granada's Angel Beltran (138) and Campiotti thrilled a good turnout of Matadors supporters by each advancing through the second round, as did Rardon, Livermore's two-time NCS champion.
Saturday's championship round begins at 7:15 p.m.