Mark Cardwell

Monache High School's Mark Cardwell hoists Christian Rodriguez of Selma Saturday, Feb. 23, in 170-pound fifth place match in the CIF State Boys Wrestling Championships at Rabobank Arena in Bakersfield. Cardwell lost, 4-6, by decision.

Finishes career as Monache’s first four-time state qualifier

Monache High School’s Mark Cardwell ended his high school wrestling career as the Marauders’ first-ever, four-time state qualifier, as well as a two-time state placer after placing sixth at the three-day CIF State Boys Wrestling Championships at Rabobank Arena in Bakersfield Saturday. 

In a strange twist of fate, third-seeded Cardwell (170 pounds) once again finished the season with a loss to second-seed, Christian Rodriguez of Selma. 

Cardwell was facing his own struggles in the final matches of the tournament after falling into the consolation rounds after losing in the championship rounds quarterfinals and then again in the consolation semifinals, this time in a 9-5 loss to Ryan Cosio of Temecula Valley, and missing an opportunity to defend his third-seed ranking. 

But surprisingly Rodriguez also fell out of the championship rounds and lost his consolation semifinal match, setting up a rematch of last year’s placement match, this time for fifth place.

For years Rodriguez had plagued Cardwell on the mat, with Cardwell unable to get the upper hand on Rodriguez. But in the two’s final high school meeting, Cardwell struck first and looked good ending the first period up 2-1 after being more aggressive than Rodriguez and forcing Rodriguez to defend himself by escaping the circle.

Rodriguez chose bottom for the second period and Cardwell gave him the escape point. Tied 2-all to start the third, Rodriguez returned the favor and gave Cardwell an escape point after he chose bottom. From there Rodriguez was able to secure a takedown but Cardwell picked up an escape to force overtime. But in the fourth period, Rodriguez once again got the best of Cardwell with a takedown to win the match 6-4.

“They’re just two talented kids and head-to-head they’re as equal as you can get,” MHS head coach Arthur Demerath said. “Two extreme athletes that are going to the next level and they’ll see [each other] there and I think Mark will finally get past that wall. He’s just gotta keep working hard, as he always does, and he’ll beat him. Didn’t happen this year. We didn’t have the tournament we wanted but I’m proud of him.”

If they stay in the same weight class as each other, Rodriguez and Cardwell will surely meet again as the two are respectively signed to California State University, Fresno and CSU Bakersfield. The Bulldogs and Roadrunners are NCAA Division I rivals in the Central Valley and have an annual dual. 

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