Fri, Feb 21 2014 03:23 PM Posted By: Phillip Brents
While Montgomery High School’s Miguel Ballesteros had put together a solid season, he clearly notched a breakthrough performance at last Saturday’s Metro Conference championship tournament at Sweetwater High School.
Not only did he defeat the top-seeded wrestler to win his 222-pound weight class but, in the process, also earned the tournament’s outstanding upper weight award.
“I did not see this coming,” said Ballesteros, who improved his season record to 28-6 after recording an injury default victory against Otay Ranch’s Rasheed Farha, considered by some to be a prohibitive favorite to win the title.
In fact, the two had met in the championship round of December’s El Cajon Invitational, with Farha securing the gold medal on the strength of a 22-7 technical fall.
“He’s a stalling type of wrestler,” said Ballesteros, who finished 3-0 on the day with a 1:02 pin in the quarterfinals and another win by injury default in the semifinals. “I wanted to wrestle like he did. I implemented what I like to do, which is to throw.”
The Aztec mat warrior threw Farha onto his back and appeared poised to record a pin before the Mustang mat man signaled he had been injured on the throw. After a lengthy injury timeout, the two grapplers renewed their struggle, and Farha landed out of bounds.
This time he did not get up to continue, and Ballesteros was awarded the win by injury default.
“It feels pretty good,” said Ballesteros when asked to describe his new-found status as a conference champion. “I didn’t expect it.”
Mater Dei Catholic senior Sean O’Rourke (31-5) earned the tournament’s lower weight MVP award after finishing 3-0 with three first-period pins to win his 140-pound division. He pinned San Ysidro’s Mario A La Torre in 1:04 in the finals.
Crusader coach Scott Ullsperger noted it was the first time in school history that a MDCHS wrestler walked off the mat with a MVP award.
O’Rourke termed it “just another stepping stone to get ready for state.”
O’Rourke joined Team San Diego teammates Jacob Schaeffer of Otay Ranch and Miguel Flores of San Ysidro as fellow conference champions.
The three Metro standouts competed during the offseason in the America’s Cup, which pitted all-star teams from throughout California and other selected states. Team San Diego finished third in the 28-team dual format.
Individually, O’Rourke and Schaeffer placed third while Flores finished among the top eight wrestlers in his weight class.
At the conference finals, Schaeffer (19-5) recorded a 9-0 major decision over Hilltop’s Alberto Garcia to win his 122-pound weight class while Flores (35-1) out-pointed Chula Vista’s Hector Rodriguez, 6-0, to claim the 134-pound title.
Flores finished the regular season ranked first in the San Diego Section in his weight class while O’Rourke was second and Schaeffer was third.
“It felt good competing (for Team San Diego) because the Chula Vista region is not known for wrestling but we’re helping making a name for it,” Schaeffer said.
“We wrestled with guys from Poway and North County, and now we’re friends with them,” O’Rourke noted.
“It was really an experience wrestling all those good guys in the tournament,” Flores summed up.
Parade of champions
Flores was among three weight class champions for San Ysidro, which entered the tournament as two-time defending champions.
Joining Flores on the top rung of the awards stand were teammates Roberto A La Torre (147) and Esteban Espinoza (172).
Overall, San Ysidro qualified seven mat men for the championship round. Besides Mario Al La Torre, other silver medalists included Jorbel Alvarez (115), Jose Reyes (128) and Alejandro Cazares (197).
Mesa League dual meet co-champion Mustangs had six finalists and four champions. Joining Schaeffer with gold medals were teammates Christopher Villanueva (115), Adrian Hernandez (162) and Angel Tegardine (287).
Otay Ranch’s two silver medalists included Michael Orona (108) and Farha.
Prior to defaulting because of injury in the finals, Farha (30-6) had won by a 17-8 major decision in the quarterfinals and by a 3:30 pin in the semifinals.
Chula Vista, runner-up to San Ysidro in South Bay League dual competition, finished third in the team standings. The Spartans had four finalists and one individual champion. Jaylon Candler won the 197-pound title with a tight 5-3 decision over the Cougars’ Cazares while Rodolfo Magana (172) and Alexis Chavez (287) joined Rodriguez with runner-up medals.
Mesa League co-champion Hilltop had three finalists and one champion in scoring a fourth-place team finish. Drake Madarang won the 154-pound title with a 9-3 decision over Bonita Vista’s Andy Garcia while Xavier Plascencia (147) joined Garcia with a silver medal following a loss by first-period fall to San Ysidro’s Roberto A La Torre.
Eastlake finished fifth in the team standings, followed by Olympian (sixth), Montgomery (seventh), Bonita Vista (eighth), Mar Vista (ninth), Castle Park (10th), Mater Dei Catholic (11th), Sweetwater (12th) and Southwest (13th).
Olympian had two individual champions: Bryan Sanchez (108) and Dante Preciado (128). Sanchez had four falls, including two in the first period, while Preciado (30-6) finished 3-0 with a pair of pins.
Castle Park’s Carlos O’Connor captured the 184-pound championship with a last-minute 8-5 decision over Eastlake’s Ronnie Sallee to improve to 18-0 on the season (with 15 pins).
Mar Vista’s Raymond Medrano (162) also finished second in his weight class.
San Ysidro coach Mario Ramirez said his squad has the potential to qualify three wrestlers for the upcoming state championship meet.
The Cougars out-pointed Mater Dei Catholic by 33 points to win the Metro junior varsity tournament title.
Questions arise on outcome of varsity team championship winner
The Otay Ranch High School wrestling team left Sweetwater High School’s gym thinking they had recorded a narrow runner-up finish at last Saturday’s Metro Conference championship tournament. The final tally sheet had placed the Mustangs eight points behind the San Ysidro Cougars, who were presented with their third consecutive conference championship trophy during the official awards ceremony.
But now there seems to be some question as to which team actually finished in first place.
In a post-event development, William McLaughlin, who serves as the Sweetwater district’s athletics coordinator, said there is an ongoing investigation by the district concerning the eligibility of one of San Ysidro’s wrestlers who competed in the tournament.
“Because of issues involved in the competition, there is an investigation that could affect the outcome of the tournament,” McLaughlin said when reached Thursday morning.
McLaughlin said that in an individual tournament, if a wrestler is declared ineligible, that all the points that wrestler earned during the tournament would be voided.
“If that turns out to be the case and the outcome is different, then another team could be declared the winner,” McLaughlin said.
Otay Ranch finished the tournament with four individual champions; San Ysidro had three individual champions.
Both teams will compete in this weekend’s San Diego Section divisional championships. Otay Ranch will compete at the Division I finals at Escondido High School while San Ysidro, sans the two forfeited wrestlers, will compete in the Division II finals at Westview High School.
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