The sky’s the limit for senior Noah Mirelez. For the third consecutive year, the grappler is headed to the California Interscholastic Federation State Wrestling Championship, and he’s looking better than ever.

This is the first time in Patterson High School history that any wrestler has attended three consecutive State Championships, already putting Mirelez in a very select section of Patterson athletic lore, but perhaps more is in store in the final chapter of Noah’s career as a Tiger.

“Wow, he has done so much this season in and out of the room. His third* time to state. That’s a big accomplishment in itself; only the best in the state make it that far, and he has put in the time on and off the mat. If he’s not in the room practicing, he’s on his treadmill running or working stance motions drills. Every year it seems he adds a little more speed to his shots and a little more to his technique of wrestling. Can’t wait to see how he does at state,” head coach Artie Rivera said.

He will look to make this final trip to Bakersfield count as he wears the Tigers’ uniform for the last time. 

“This is my last tournament competing for my home town which I love. The support from my team, family, friends, teachers, and the community is what allows me to compete at my best, knowing everyone has my back,” Mirelez said via email. “I am very proud to represent the town I was raised in.”

The senior has had a strong showing this winter, to boost his profile heading into the state finals. With a notable win over top-ranked Henry Porter of Oakdale during his first place finish at California Invitational Tournament held at Morro Bay in January, Mirelez signaled his drive to take his talent to another level.

Porter and Mirelez have wrestled twice since his victory in January, with Porter narrowly edging out a 10-7 victory at the Division III Finals, and an even narrower 8-6 overtime win against Mirelez at the CIF Sac-Joaquin Masters Meet 132-pound championship match last weekend.

Never one to boast or lash out, Mirelez has set a strong example for the rest of his teammates on and off the mat.

Humble in victory and defeat, the senior’s steady approach has taken each win and loss in stride, but his confidence has only bolstered. He will enter the state finals more determined than ever to navigate uncharted territory and push the envelope not only for himself, but to show other aspiring Patterson wrestlers and teammates that with enough hard work and determination they can also reach for the top.

Mirelez shared that his sights are aimed much higher in his third trip to Rabobank Arena.

“My sophomore year I made the mistake of being content* with just qualifying. My junior year I was shooting to place in the top eight*, but in my mind I still had personal doubts that there were a few people I did not think I could beat. This year I am seeded sixth*, but the real difference between this year and previous years is I believe if I wrestle at my best level, I can compete with anyone in the state,” Mirelez said.

Matching the seed he was given, Mirelez will enter ranked sixth in the state at 132 pounds, according to CalGrappler and The California Wrestler.

He will face senior Steven Kroesen of Laguna Hills in his first match. Kroesen qualified for the 2018 State Championship at 126 pounds. He finished in seventh place at 132 pounds at the 2019 Southern Section Masters Meet to earn his spot this year.

The winner will face Isaac Kephart of Arroyo Grande High School in the second round. Kephart finished 10th at the Central Section Masters Meet last weekend.

Tigers finish with five medalists overall at Masters

Noah Mirelez was not the only Patterson wrestler to medal at the CIF Sac-Joaquin Section Masters Meet over the weekend.

Joining his silver medal finish, the Tigers had four other medalists who barely missed the cut for a State Championship berth, despite medaling.

“There is so much I can say about our team this year. But hard working is the main thing that comes to mind. They are few but they are tough. Putting in the time day in day out and it shows, with five masters medalists and one going to state. We are very hopeful for next season. We have a good group of wrestlers coming back willing to put in the work to make the trip back to Masters and beyond,” Rivera said.

Senior Mokbel Obeid qualified for a state finals berth last year, but was unable to repeat the achievement in his final season for the Tigers. Obeid had a promising start with back-to-back wins over Max McCarver of Oak Ridge and Juan Garcia of Livingston. A majority decision loss to sophomore Carson Prim of Grace Davis set him back, but a decision win over junior Gustavo Bonilla of Turlock put Obeid back on track for a state finals ticket. Unfortunately, a loss to senior Dylan Duncan of Vista del Lago meant Obeid would not meet the top six finisher requirement to advance to state. A win over junior Kyle Obein of Oakmont earned Obeid a seventh-place finish.

After just missing the cut during his freshman year, sophomore Chase Mirelez was once again one win away. Chase began by defeating junior Julius Serrano of Lincoln by decision, but lost to senior Edison Alanis of Franklin in his second match. Chase ripped off three straight victories in response to set up an opportunity to go to state, but a critical loss to senior Conner Shirar of Vacaville denied Chase the chance at state. Chase lost to senior Jacob Crook of Elk Grove by decision, to get eighth place overall at Masters.

Junior Adrian Barrera followed a similar path to Chase last weekend. Barrera began with a pin fall victory over freshman Jackson Calvert of Franklin, to start his tournament run. A loss to sophomore Tony Yuke of McClatchy set him back, but Barrera rebounded with wins over Silverio Godina, Broc Perry and Eric Almarinez, to thrust his way back into the picture of a state qualification. Barrera went up against freshman Michael Torres of Oakdale in a match to determine who would shore up one of the final spots for state, but Torres got the best of Barrera with a majority decision victory. He then lost to junior Tyler Maples of Bella Vista, to get eighth place.

Freshman Jesse Cota nearly had a state qualification in his first year wrestling for the Tigers at the 106-pound level. A 9-4 decision loss to sophomore Dylan Maples of Bella Vista out the gate meant Cota would have to take the hard road to state, but the freshman nearly did that when he put together four straight wins over Byron Moore (Davis Sr.), Colby Cerros (Ponderosa), Talan Nimi (Granite Bay), and Jack James (Oak Ridge). A loss to sophomore Salahdin Farukh of Valley High ended Cota’s win streak and subsequently knocked him out of state qualification contention. Cota finished his tournament strong, with a 7-0 decision victory over sophomore Desizion Costa of Turlock for seventh place.

Junior Aaron Botkin and junior Brisa Salas also competed at their respective Masters Meets. Botkin finished 2-2 during his first trip to Masters, while Salas finished 1-2 during her second journey to Masters.

The strong showing at Masters continued the success that the Patterson High wrestling program has been building for the past three seasons that has yielded a section title, and four state finalist qualifications. Rivera hopes to continue to build on that success in the future. With Barrera, Botkin, Chase Mirelez, Cota and Salas all returning next year, the Tigers will be in a spot to continue to push the team and individual wrestlers to new heights.

“It’s been an amazing ride so far with all we have accomplished the last three years, and we are going to keep riding* the wave for as long as we can. I know this program is a new program, but we have a great group of coaches that work well together, we are all on the same page when it come to the wrestlers. We are all here for the kids -- not just one or two but all of them. When we stepped in to the room we knew it was going to take a lot of time and dedication to the program,” Rivera said.

PI sports writer

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