It took perhaps 30 minutes for Ian Cramer to recover from his loss in the 132-pound division finals at the 2014 Central Coast Section Wrestling Championships. It was a setback that provided the Gunn High standout with a personal challenge.
"He was a real tough wrestler," Cramer said of Gilroy's Victor Olmos, who came away with a 7-2 decision in that title match. "I made a couple of mistakes. But, I thought afterward that I had held my own against a three-time CCS champ."
And that's when Cramer knew what he had to do in 2015.
"I'm going to come back," Cramer told himself, "and I'm going to win it next year. I was thinking about that right away."
Cramer will have an opportunity to achieve that goal this weekend when he goes after his first section title at the CCS Championships, which open Friday at Independence High in San Jose at 9 a.m. Finals begin Saturday at 7 p.m.
Now a senior, Cramer is the top seed at 138 pounds. He has earned that position with a 26-1 record this season, highlighted by 21 pins.
Along with being No. 1 in the CCS, Cramer is ranked No. 6 in the state in his division.
"It's definitely a nice confidence boost," Cramer said of his No. 1 CCS ranking. "But, to be honest, I don't put much into the rankings. Anything can happen. I still have to wrestle my best."
Cramer is the odds-on-favorite to win and earn one of three available berths in each weight class for the CIF State Meet, set for March 6-7 at Rabobank Arena in Bakersfield. The No. 2 seed is Max McCann of Monta Vista. Cramer has beaten him four times this season.
"But," reminded Gunn coach Chris Horpel, "each time it's been closer."
Cramer's most recent win over McCann came in the SCVAL Championships where Cramer posted a 9-7 decision. Cramer had a 12-5 victory over McCann when the teams met during the dual-meet season.
Cramer was 9-0 in duals this year in addition to winning three tournament titles. His only loss came at the Mid Cal Invitational where he lost to a wrestler from Fresno's Buchanan High.
Thus, Cramer is unbeaten against CCS competition and hopes to keep it that way this weekend, despite the odds of having to beat McCann for a fifth time.
"I can beat him again if I wrestle my best," Cramer said. "Wrestling harder and smarter are my goals this weekend."
And becoming one of only five male CCS champs from Gunn. Dwight Miller won titles at 103 and 112 pounds in 1973 and '74 under Bill Sperry, Gunn's first coach. Dan Gebben won at 165 pounds in 1979 under Dan Seitz. Horpel then coached Zack Blumenfeld (171) and Stefan Weidemann (152) to section titles in 2009 and 2011. Cadence Lee (2011 and '12) won CCS titles for the Gunn girls.
Out of Gunn's all-time CCS placers since 1972, Cramer has the best record at 26-1. Miller has the most wins (35), during his championship seasons.
"Ian has been a joy to coach," said Horpel, in his 12th season at Gunn and the longest-tenured coach in the sport. "He is fearless and loves to wrestle! He is a great technician and is always looking for the fall. He has pinned almost everyone he has wrestled this year. He has more than doubled the number of team points (196) of any other Gunn wrestler this year. He is a three-time league champion, a four-time CCS qualifier and is on track to become my fourth CCS champion."
Cramer is one of six Gunn wrestlers competing this weekend, but the only one seeded. Also entered are senior Kirill Demyanenko (285), sophomore David Abramovitch (126), junior Tanner Kerrins (132), sophomore Aaron Schultz (145) and sophomore Thomas Chang-Davidson (152). Senior Jonah Wager (182) also qualified, but is injured.
Palo Alto has three seeded wrestlers in sophomore Seth Goyal (No. 4 at 120), senior Chioke Bryant-Anderson (No. 4 at 170) and senior James Giaccia (No. 6 at 126). Joining them this weekend will be Noah Asing at 108 pounds. Goyal and Giaccia won titles at the SCVAL Championships while Bryant-Anderson was second and Asing fourth.
While the Gunn and Palo Alto boys go after state meet berths, two Paly girls will be competing at the state level this weekend at the Visalia Convention Center.
Paly senior Alex Austin will go at 111 pounds while sophomore Sarah Aguilar will wrestle at 160 pounds. Austin competed last year and went 0-2 while Aguilar just missed a state berth following a fourth-place finish at the CCS meet.
Aguilar is seeded fifth and Austin is the No. 6 seed. Both will have first-round byes on Friday, with hopes of reaching Saturday's round. Aguilar will get the winner of Aylssa Palmer of Bonita and Haley Callaway of Del Oro while Austin will face either Alyssa Aceval of San Jacinto or Tiana Jackson of Central Catholic of the Central Valley.
The top seed in Austin's division is a freshman, Gracie Figueroa of Selma while senior Alyssa LaFrancis of Rancho Buena Vista is the top seed in Aguilar's bracket.