MOORPARK — It's becoming an annual ritual for Coach John Keever and the Moorpark College wrestling team.
Under Keever the past 25 seasons, the Raiders have built one of the most respected programs in the state, a program that won state titles in 1990 and 1991 and has produced 11 individual champions.
Now, Keever believes sophomores Jason Pratt, Jorge Ruiz and Todd Hoult could add to that individual total at the state junior college championships starting today and concluding Saturday at Santa Rosa College.
They are part of a nine-man contingent from Moorpark that qualified for the championships by placing in the top eight in their divisions at the Southern California regional last Saturday at Golden West College.
"I think those guys have a really good chance of being state champs," said Keever, who has been voted the Southern California coach of the year. "Hopefully, we'll be in the running for top three (in the team competition)."
Pratt, a 158-pound wrestler from Newbury Park High, improved to 27-6 with a 6-0 victory over Rick Carreon of Cerritos in the regional. He finished third in the same class in last year's state tournament.
Ruiz (142 pounds) will take a 21-6 record into the finals after losing to Jon Gear of Bakersfield in the regional final. Ruiz, from Coachella Valley High, was third at 134 pounds in the state in 1992.
Hoult, from Agoura High, will compete at 190 pounds. He defeated James Hill of Cerritos, 10-3, at the regional for his 25th victory in 31 matches this season. Hoult redshirted last season.
Other Raiders who qualified for the state tournament are Gil Zavala (20-13) at 118 pounds, Ryan Kern (21-12) at 134, Kyle Plummer (17-15) at 150, Mario Valera (15-11) at 167, Dan Burdis (15-15) at 177, and Gabriel Godinez (19-16) in the heavyweight division.
Moorpark finished third in the regional with 110.75 points, behind Cerritos (140.25) and Rancho Santiago (122.75). The Raiders scored 74.75 points and finished third in the state meet last year. Palomar won and Cerritos finished second.