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Lezama represents Hawks at CIF State Championships
Central Valley heavyweight David Lezama posted a 1-2 record at the CIF State Wrestling Championships last week in Bakersfield. - photo by EDDIE RUIZ/The Courier

Senior heavyweight David Lezama represented Central Valley's varsity boys wrestling team for the last time this past week in Bakersfield.

Lezama made program history by becoming the first Hawk grappler to win a match at the CIF State Championships.

"Being able to compete at that level isn't easy," Central Valley head coach Rob Beckhart said. "It's a tough tournament. There are no easy matches. He should be proud of his performance."

"A lot of people train their whole lives to get to state and don't make it," Lezama said. "I surprised myself by being able to accomplish this goal. Hopefully, people that come after me will do better than me, and place."

David posted a 1-2 record at state.

"Everybody that he wrestled was ranked higher than him and returning state qualifiers," Beckhart said. "He didn't get any breaks. The cards were stacked against us. But I learned to never underestimate David. He showed he belonged at the tournament."

"I didn't worry about the rankings," Lezama said. "I just wrestled. The experience was great."

Lezama lost by pin (1:06) to top-seeded Seth Nevills of Clovis in the first round.

Nevills (127-0) went on to claim his third straight state title.

"I was pretty nervous going into the match," Lezama said. "He's never lost. He's a talented wrestler. I just went out there and tried my best. I honestly don't know what I could have done differently."

"We didn't have any opportunities to implement our game plan," Beckhart said. "We wanted to stay close and he (Nevills) was still able to shoot at us. He's got the whole package."

David upset 14th-ranked Brett Schuler of Bakersfield Christian by decision (3-1) in the consolation bracket.

"I'm proud of myself," Lezama said. "He's a two-time state qualifier and went 2-2 last year."

Lezama lost by decision (2-1) in triple overtime to No. 9/two-time state participant Gabe Herrera of Palm Desert.

"I could have won that match," David said. "I should have attacked more instead of being defensive."

Lezama practiced with fellow heavyweights Jesse Flores of Delhi and Ryan Higginbotham of Modesto Christian in Salida leading up to the state meet.

Flores placed second in Bakersfield.

Higginbotham lost twice.

"It helped prepare him for this part of the season," Beckhart said.
Lezama will be remembered as one of Central Valley's all-time greatest wrestlers.

"I joined the team my sophomore to lose weight for football," he said. "I didn't like the sport at first. I ended up loving it. It's a big family. We love each other. We wrestle for each other. We have great pride in our school."

David compiled a 35-14 record during his final season with the Hawks.

He won four of six matches en route to a fourth-place showing at the Sac-Joaquin Section Masters Championships.

Lezma took first at the Division-IV and Western Athletic Conference meets.

David captured titles at tournaments in Ceres, Oakdale and Corona.

He finished eighth at the Tim Brown Invitational.

"This is one of the toughest sports there is," Lezama said. "It tests you mentally and physically. It's tiring especially for heavyweights. You just have to push your body more. I wrestled to my max. It's shocking. I never thought I'd get this far. I give credit to my coaches for teaching me what I needed to know."