BAKERSFIELD — Jeff Camilli was also returning to Rabobank for the state finals but under different circumstances as the Fresno State scholarship football player/heavyweight wrestler didn’t wrestle during the regular season, only in the postseason.
“I placed, I’m happy. But at the same time I’m disappointed because if I would have wrestled the whole season I should be wrestling (in the finals),” said Camilli. “I wasn’t even nervous this year. Last year when I walked out of that tunnel I was in awe. This year I walked out there thinking it was just another tournament.”
Camilli started with a tight 2-1 overtime victory over Westminster’s Alejandro Ruelas, escaping in the opening seconds of the sudden-death overtime period. Next, he was leading Dylan Walsh of Las Lomas (Walnut Creek) 7-1 when Walsh had to default due to an ankle injury.
Beginning the second day, Camilli dropped a tight 3-2 decision to Chance Eskam of Carlsbad in the semifinals and then bested Sheldon’s Sam Alnasiri 7-3 thanks to a third-period escape, takedown and nearfall.
He lost 4-2 to Nour Abdullatif of Roosevelt (Eastvale), who ended up third, before capturing a 4-3 win in sudden death overtime over Elk Grove’s Jaharee Taylor in the match for seventh place — an especially satisfying win after Taylor edged Camilli 2-1 in last week’s Masters in the semis.
“I usually have problems after a loss, bouncing back. My coaches are great at teaching the mental aspect. That helped a lot,” said Camilli, ranked No. 9. “I was able to place and that was ultimately what I wanted.”