Kyle Thorpe knew he was in a bad spot.
After losing his first round match at last weeks Sac-Joaquin Section Masters Tournament the Atwater seniors chances of advancing to state were slim.
Only two words popped into Thorpes mind.
Oh, crap, Thorpe said. Only it was a more profound word than crap.
My coach (Andrew Bristow) was right there with me. He told me its not going to be easy. Youre going to have to fight. Youre going to have to show how much you want to do this. Youre going to have to do it the hard way.
Thorpe did just that, winning six straight matches to finish fourth in the 160-pound division to clinch a berth to this weeks CIF State Championships in Bakersfield.
Thorpe will be one of seven area wrestlers competing at Rabobank Arena with the best the sport has to offer in California.
The tournament starts on Friday at 9 a.m.
Thorpes path to Bakersfield has made him appreciate the experience even more. Absolutely, this is really uplifting, battling all the way back, Thorpe said.
Doing it the way I did kind of gives me a new perspective of why I love wrestling.
Something always feels better when you have to work hard for it.
Merced junior Isaiah Alva (138 pounds) also battled back from a first-round loss to take fifth place at Masters to punch his ticket to Bakersfield.
They will be joined at state by Los Banos Tyler Felix (106), Jimmy Felix (132), Merceds Mark Taijeron (132) and the Dos Palos trio of Nathan Pimentel (138), Izzac Suarez (145) and Juan Jimenez (182).
Taijeron continued his late-season tear by winning a Masters championship.
The Bears junior feels one reason hes been wrestling well is he stopped paying attention to rankings.
Earlier in the year, Taijeron would worry too much about the gap in the rankings between him and the opponents he was facing and he would psyche himself out.
I would lose confidence to see how far someone was ranked ahead of me, Taijeron said. Now I just focus on wrestling. Ive been able to put everything else aside.
Taijeron has seen his confidence grow with each win the last few weeks. His plan this week is to leave the scouting reports up to his coaches and hell focus on wrestling his matches.
Im pretty excited, Taijeron said. Its going to be my first time there. Im trying not to let it overwhelm me. I want to wrestle to my potential. Im kind of nervous, but pretty confident at the same time.
Livingston juniors Gurleen Chahal and Brianna Corondao both fared well at last week's CIF State Girls Wrestling Championships at Lemoore High.
Chahal finished fifth in the 108-pound division and Brianna Coronado came away with an eighth-place finish at 146 pounds.
Tyler Felix, 106, Sophomore, Los Banos
Mark Taijeron, 132, Junior, Merced
Jimmy Felix, 132, Senior, Los Banos
Isaiah Alva, 138, Junior, Merced
Nathan Pimentel, 138, Sophomore, Dos Palos
Izzac Suarez, 145, Junior, Dos Palos
Kyle Thorpe, 160, Senior, Atwater
Juan Jimenez, 182, Sophomore, Dos Palos