Fri, Feb 28 2014 04:51 PM Posted By: Phillip Brents
The Metro Conference collectively put on a midseason showcase at December’s El Cajon Invitational. It’s February now — the championship part of the 2013-14 high school wrestling season — and South County grapplers continue to excel.
Metro Conference wrestlers snared six individual weight class championships at last Saturday’s San Diego Section divisional championship tournaments while also recording eight runner-up finishes.
The 14 divisional finalists constitute a rather impressive showing.
The Division I finals at Escondido High School proved to be especially rewarding with four Metro mat men winning individual championships and three more earning second-place medals.
Mesa League co-champion Otay Ranch led the way with three weight class champions: Jake Schaeffer (120 pounds), Adrian Hernandez (160) and Rasheed Farha (220).
Add to that Eastlake’s Yoab Garcia, who secured the 145-pound title, and runner-up finishers: Chula Vista’s Hector Rodriguez (132) and Eastlake’s Danny Rubalcava (138) and Ronnie Sallee (182).
Schaeffer, seeded fourth, scored two technical falls and a major decision en route to the finals where he claimed a 3-0 decision over Calexico’s Robert Tabarez to improve to 23-5.
Garcia, seeded first, met second-seeded Justin Villalobos of Vista in the finals, winning 3-0.
Hernandez scored three consecutive pins before topping El Camino’s Kory Reid, 9-6, in the finals.
Farha recorded a 20-7 major decision over Bonita Vista’s George Harlan in the quarterfinals and a 3:33 pin against Rancho Buena Vista’s Shane McNary in the semifinals. In the finals, Farha pinned Granite Hills’ Francisco Saavedra in 3:11.
The top seven place-winners in each of 14 weight classes at the Division I finals qualified to compete at this weekend’s San Diego Masters state qualifying tournament at Mission Hills High School.
Otay Ranch qualified nine wrestlers to compete at Masters, the section’s crown jewel event.
“It’s good,” Mustang coach Gabe Ruz said. “Our program is definitely growing. The enthusiasm at the school is high and this will only help us to continue to grow.”
San Ysidro finished seventh and Hilltop placed ninth at the Division II finals at Westview High School where the top seven place-finishers also advanced to compete at Masters. Poway, with 10 weight class champions, dominated the field with a 138-point bulge over team runner-up La Costa Canyon.
South Bay League champion San Ysidro had two finalists: Miguel Flores (132) and Roberto A La Torre (138).
Flores, who opened the tournament with a pair of pins and an 11-4 semifinal victory, dropped a 1-0 decision on an escape point to Poway’s Adrian Tovar while A La Torre dropped a 17-4 major decision to another Poway matster, Sergio Enloe.
Mesa League co-champion Hilltop had five Masters qualifiers: Xavier Plascencia (third, 145), Seamus Beyerle (fourth, 160), Alberto Garcia (fifth, 120), Drake Madarang (fifth, 152) and Isaak Whitehill (fifth, 285). Joseph Torres (108) also qualified as an alternate.
At the Division III finals at Olympian High School, the 2014 Metro Conference wrestling showcase continued with four local boys advancing to the championship round and one coming out on top in a brutally tough field that spotlighted longtime Imperial Valley powers Brawley and Central Union high schools.
Junior Bryan Sanchez led the tourney-host Eagles by winning the 108-pound title. Recording second-place finishes were Mar Vista’s Josh Walters (132) and Aaron Olmos (145) and Montgomery’s Miguel Ballesteros (220).
Brawley led the Division III field with eight finalists and four weight class champions. The exceedingly competitive field also included team runner-up Ramona, third place Mt. Carmel and fourth place Central Union.
Sanchez’s title-winning performance came in dramatic fashion after the Olympian mat man scored a takedown with eight seconds left in regulation time against Brawley’s Jacob Moreno to claim a hard-fought 2-1 decision.
Sanchez, who pinned his way to the finals with three first-period pins, becomes the Eagles’ third individual division champion in school history, joining Victor Viesca (152 pounds) in 2010 and Jesse Perez (heavyweight) in 2011.
“I did have a feeling that I could win the championship,” said Sanchez, who is following in the footsteps of his father Bryan who won a state championship while competing for Calexico in 1996. “I knew that I had to take him down. It feels really good to be a CIF champion.”
Both Walters and Olmos dropped heart-breaker matches in the championship round.
Walters lost 1-0 on an escape point to Brawley’s Jesse Ruelas while Olmos dropped a marathon 9-8 decision to El Cajon Valley’s Leon Shlemoon in the double-overtime tiebreaker.
The 145-pound finale was clearly the match of the night as the crowd cheered for Olmos, the super frosh, to the bitter end.
In fact, it appeared at first that the Mariner standout had pulled out an 8-7 win in regulation on a takedown with 12 seconds left in the third period before mat officials awarded a late escape point to Shlemoon as the pair rolled out of bounds.
Shlemoon scored an escape point in the double-overtime tiebreaker and then successfully rode out his opponent to win.
“We thought we had won but the officials reversed their decision and the match went into overtime,” MVHS coach Mario Olmos explained. “We’ll have another shot at it at Masters.”
Shlemoon takes a 39-5 record into Masters while Olmos is 33-3.
Montgomery’s Ballesteros (31-7), the upper weight MVP at the preceding week’s Metro finals, lost by a 4:42 pin to Ramona’s Trae Rodriguez. The Aztec wrestler had advanced to the finals on the strength of three first-period pins.
The top six place-winners at the Division III finals secured berths at this weekend’s Masters mega-tourney.
The Eagles, who finished sixth in the 20-team tournament, had four Masters qualifiers. Sophomore Dante Preciado (126) finished third in his weight class while freshman Jedrik Farin (113) and senior Ronald Magsino (160) both placed fourth in their respective weights. Jose Arriero (147) also qualified as an alternate to Masters.
“This is our second year under our new coaching staff and we’re building,” OHS head coach Ray Ruiz said. “We had 56 wrestlers this year, that’s the most. We qualified four for Masters — that’s the most ever.”
Securing noteworthy place-finishes were Mar Vista sophomore Jacob Bingham (third, 152), Mar Vista freshman Christian Winnie (fifth 108), Castle Park senior Carlos O’Connor (fifth, 170) and Montgomery junior Andrew Jaffe (sixth, 152).
O’Connor, a reigning Metro champion and the No. 2 seed at the Division III finals, encountered some difficulty after opening the season 18-0 with 15 pins. After winning his opening two matches, he found himself on the bottom end of two losses by fall (5:46 to Mt. Carmel’s Yama Fahim in the semifinals and 4:49 to Brawley’s Blake Zelany in the consolation semifinals).
O’Connor recovered to capture the fifth-place match with a 9-5 decision over Cathedral Catholic junior Brett McElhaney and extend his season into Masters.
Mar Vista finished eighth in the Division III team standings while Montgomery was 15th, Castle Park was 17th and Southwest was 19th.
Mater Dei Catholic had three semifinalists at the Division IV finals at Mt. Miguel High School: Jonas Ullsperger (120), Sean O’Rourke (138) and Ivan Duran (182).
O’Rourke, who opened the tournament with pins of nine and 10 seconds, went on to win his weight class with an 8-2 decision over Mt. Miguel’s Nathan Ontiveros.
O’Rourke (35-5) recorded an 11-3 decision over La Jolla’s Steven Andrews in the semifinals.
“Everyone has heard about Sean now and they’re not preparing themselves to take him on but rather withstand him,” MDCHS coach Scott Ullsperger said. “We’re really looking forward to a good Masters.”
This weekend’s Masters is Friday and Saturday. Finals are scheduled at 5 p.m. on the final day.
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