South Hills High School’s Thomas Williams leads a contingent of 18 wrestlers from the San Gabriel Valley into today’s State Meet in Bakersfield at the Rabobank Arena. The two-day event is California’s Super Bowl of high school wrestling, with most elite grapplers in attendance. Williams, the Huskies’ 112-pound junior, is 47-1 on the season and is coming off a Masters Meet title last Saturday in Rialto. Williams finished second last year at state and is the odds-on favorite to win a state title from the Valley, according to local coaches and his peers. Northview’s Steven De La Fuente (140 pounds) brings a 28-0 record into the meet and is ranked No. 1 in the state. The Vikings’ senior captain is back to full strength after orthoscopic surgery in January and will be making his first state appearance. De La Fuente has won Valle Vista League and CIF-Southern Section Eastern Division and Masters Meet titles in the last three weeks. “I am feeling pretty confident and anxious,” De La Fuente said. “I feel fine physically and want to get out there and win my first match and go from there.” Marcus Johnson (215) is 46-1 for Diamond Bar after dropping his final match at the Masters because of a shoulder injury. The Brahmas standout has recovered well and worked out Thursday evening in Bakersfield and felt no pain or discomfort. “Over the weekend, I was in a lot of pain and pretty frustrated, but as the week went along, I got stronger and stronger,” Johnson said. Johnson was winning his match last Saturday and would likely be unbeaten if not for the shoulder strain. “I am excited and anxious to get out there and try and bring home a state championship,” he said. Sierra Vista’s Adrian Gonzales leads three Valley wrestlers in the 152-pound weight class. Gonzales has just two losses this season, but will have to face the state’s second-ranked wrestler, Joey Wilson of Half Moon Bay. “I’m going to leave it all out on the mat and leave Bakersfield with no regrets,” the senior said. George Munoz finished fourth at Masters, but got a much better draw than Nick Inclan or Gonzales. “This is my third year at state and I feel real good going into this weekend,” the West Covina 152-pounder said. “I need to take advantage of my draw.” Munoz feels his experience with play a huge role. “I’ve been in this environment before, so I won’t have the jitters I’ve had in the past.” Damien’s Aaron Kunihiro is the valley’s top 125-pounder and heads to state after placing sixth at Masters. Kunihiro won the CIF Southern Division final at Chino Hills. West Covina’s Armendariz (112) lost in the semifinals at Masters to South Hills’ Williams after an injury, but had defeated Williams the week before. Armendariz is using his success against the state’s No. 1-ranked wrestler in his weight as motivation that he can wrestle with anyone. “I am not ranked in state and I like being the underdog,” he said. “I am going to wrestle with all my heart and do it with passion.” Taylor Louie (West Covina) and Steven Salinas (Northview) are two of the state’s top 103-pound wrestlers and look for a possible third match against the other. “I feel confident going in and anything less than placing at state would be a disappointment,” Louie said. Inclan (152) has two CIF titles under his belt for Northview and drew the state’s top seed, Jordan Abed (Alhambra of Northern California), in the first round. “I am hoping to catch him off-guard, because whomever wrestles best is going to win this,” Inclan said. West Covina’s A.J. Guardado (135) also goes in as an underdog, but is a thinking man’s wrestler. “Its going to be an emotional weekend because I’ve been wrestling with these guys since the sixth grade,” Guardado said of his last state meet with teammates Munoz, Armendariz and Louie. Angel Garcia (119) finished second at Masters in the 119-pound division. The San Dimas junior standout is a three-time CIF champ and will compete with Santa Fe’s Marcus Orona for the top spot. South Hills’ Josh Pearson (189) and Sal Castillo have (140) tough draws, but both Huskies are aiming to place this weekend. Bishop Amat is sending Steven Espindola (112) and Andrew Ortega (119) after both won CIF titles and placed at Masters. Coaches and wrestlers polled think Williams, De La Fuente and Johnson have the best shot of bringing titles back to the valley. 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! “This is a whole different ball game this year,” South Hills coach Robb Froh said. “Thomas is more mature both mentally and physically and his experience will be a huge asset for him this time around.” “I started training for the State Meet the day after last year’s ended,” Williams said. Williams’ lone loss of the season came to West Covina’s Chris Armendariz, 4-2, in the CIF-Southern Section Coastal semifinals on Feb. 17. Some questioned the effect the loss would have on the Huskies standout, but Williams proved any doubters wrong by cruising through the Masters draw. Another advantage for Williams is the vast tournaments he’s competed in. Williams has wrestled five of the six wrestlers ranked in the top seven in the state, and has defeated each.