The best dual meet of the high school wrestling season in the Northern Section is tonight when Chico hosts Orland.
These two teams have taken turns as the best team in the section. Last year, it was Chico’s turn. Orland won the masters meet in 2012 and ’11. Before that, Chico took it twice.
It’s early in this season, but Orland already has won the Doc Petersen tournament, and the same day Chico finished second in the Newark Ironman Duals.
The California Wrestler ranks Orland 25th in the state and Chico 32nd. They are the only two section squads to crack the state rankings.
The Trojans are led by 220-pounder Vic Raigoza, who was fifth in the state last year as a junior. Raigoza won the Doc Petersen tourney this year and was named the event’s outstanding heavyweight wrestler. He’s ranked second in the state state by California Wrestler.
Fellow Trojan Hugo Punzo won the 113 division and the outstanding lightweight wrestling award at the Doc.
While the lineups aren’t known yet, the likely anticipated matchup could be Punzo against Chico’s Morgan Sauseda. The Panther got the best of Punzo in last year’s section final at 106, but it was a 2-1 decision.
John Leal, a transfer from Chester, has been an outstanding newcomer to the Panther ranks in the 170 class. He was the section champ at 152 last year.
Chico’s Malik Hopkins, no stranger to football fans of the area, has been stellar in the heavyweight division. He likely will face Orland’s Carlos Gomez for what should be another entertaining match.
Other wrestlers to keep an eye on include Jared Alves (Chico, ranked 24th in the state at 120), Layne Embery (Orland, 16th in 126), and Lorenzo Landeros (Orland, 25th at 145).
Last year, Orland won the dual 42-21. But Chico won the masters meet at the end of the season with Orland finishing third.
I’ll be providing updates of the match as much as I can, and shooting some Tout videos with the links on my Twitter feed, which can be found at @JShufelberger on Twitter. Also, photographer Jason Halley will be there for some of it as well. Follow him @JasonHalley_ER.
Check out Thursday’s Chico Enterprise-Record or Oroville Mercury-Register for the story and photos or online at ChicoER.com for the story and photo gallery.