The stakes multiply at the Sac-Joaquin Section Masters Wrestling Championships, when all the divisions funnel down to one final conduit to the CIF State Meet.
But within that intensified environment Friday and Saturday in Stockton, other forces also are at work. The seven in each weight class who advance to Bakersfield face a daunting challenge -- to retain the section's deep footprint at future state meets.
For now, the Sac-Joaquin is one of the state's so-called "Big Three," joining with the Central and the massive Southern sections. The Central and the Southern each qualify nine to the state, followed by the Sac-Joaquin with seven. The North Coast, Central Coast, San Diego and Northern send three.
The important fact: The Sac-Joaquin must perform well this year at Bakersfield to keep its seven.
The performance level is based on the percentage of medalists at state (top eight) against its qualifiers. From last year's 98 Sac-Joaquin entries, only 18 medaled and only two won -- J.T. Goodwin of Bear Creek at 220 and Johnny Schupp of Vacaville at 285.
Changes to the formula are made every two years, and next year marks the beginning of the new cycle.
"We would be more comfortable if we were in the low 20s (the total medalists)," section spokesman Will DeBoard said. "The Central nearly gained a 10th berth two years ago."
The section was hurt by the stunning season-ending missed-weight by Modesto junior Emilio Saavedra, one of the state's best and a two-time state medalist, two weeks ago.
Conversely, it might have been helped by the stepped-up competition at the two Division I tournaments last weekend. The divisions were split by competitive balance over geography this year, and more Masters berths were available.
Both Vacaville and Oakdale qualified all 14 in their respective lineups to the Masters.
The Stanislaus District will send 24 wrestlers, including North Section champions Gurleen Chahal of Livingston (108) and Jessica Paasch (235) of Calaveras, to the third annual CIF State Girls Championships.
The two-day meet returns to Lemoore High on Friday and Saturday.
The North Coast meet, staged two weeks ago at McNair High, qualified the district girls to Lemoore.
Placing second at McNair were Sariyah Jones of Enochs (98), East Union's Sarah Phillips (103), Lymbny Garibay of Livingston (118), Kayla Sadler of Bret Harte (146) and Alyssa Cantu of Weston Ranch (165).
Also making the trip to Lemoore are Gabriella Garcia of Golden Valley (103), Cindy Turula of Downey (103), Natalie Brown of Grace Davis (108), Mariah Wheeler of East Union (114), Noellee Candido of Modesto (114), Malynda Lomeli of Central Valley (122), Maria Quiroz of Pacheco (126), Amelia Miller of Golden Valley (132), Taryn Mitchell of Pacheco (132), Jazmine Ivey of Lathrop (146), Brianna Coronado of Livingston (146), Allysa Cribari of Calaveras (154), Keryn Thompson of Bret Harte (154), Marianne Schauer of Downey (165), Monica Vierra of Central Catholic (165), Olittza Garcia of Ripon (189) and Jenee Judd of Calaveras (189).
Phillips, a senior, placed fourth at the state meet in 2011 (98) and sixth last year (103). Chahal was fourth last year at 103.
They will join a field of 314 this weekend in Lemoore.
Competition begins at 11 a.m. Friday and 9 a.m. on Saturday. The finals are scheduled for Saturday night at 6.
Ripon graduate Juliana Triplett, a two-time state champion, competes this year as a freshman at Missouri Baptist. ...The Manteca wrestling community lost a dear friend and manic supporter in Raquel Reindel, the wife of East Union wrestling coach A.J. Reindel, who died last week due to injuries in an auto accident.
Bee staff writer Ron Agostini can be reached at email@example.com or (209) 578-2302. Follow Ron via Twitter on modbeesports.com