There was a significant individual absent at Saturday's 13th annual Battle by the Beach wrestling tournament at Mar Vista High School in Imperial Beach. It was the tournament's founder, IB resident and former MVHS wrestling coach Bud Harbin, who passed away Oct. 31 at the age of 76.
An IB resident since 1941 and graduate of MVHS, Harbin had been in ill health the last few years but never lost touch with the mat program at his alma mater -- or the tournament he founded that enabled South County teams to compete at a high level without leaving the region.
Harbin's pastime was drag racing; he co-founded the world-renowned U.S. Open Sandcastle Competition and served as chairman for 25 years, served two terms on the Imperial Beach City Council as well as serving as vice-mayor, served on the board of directors for local boys and girls clubs and supported his sons during their wrestling careers at MVHS. He became intimately involved with the sport of wrestling when it looked like it might be cancelled at the school. He coached the Mariners wrestling team for more than a decade with his youngest son Levi.
A legend in his own right at the IB school, the younger Harbin collected three individual division titles, was second at the San Diego Masters tournament his senior year to become an elite state meet qualifier while competing in a Mariner singlet. He capped his mat career by winning a state JC title while representing Palomar College.
Levi, who has since passed the coaching baton to others at the IB school, dropped by the tournament his father created to continue the family tie-in. Though the younger Harbin was unable to stay until the tournament's completion, longtime MV supporter Mario Olmos, who at one time served as head coach, personally presented two awards that honored the memory of Levi's late father.
The elder Harbin was first honored posthumously with the Larry Borden Memorial Coaches award, an award that was dear to his heart honoring the memory of a former beloved and respected MVHS coach.
Olmos accepted the award on behalf of the Harbin family and will personally present it to the family at a later date. Olmos then presented the inaugural Bud Harbin Community Service award to a wrestler -- not necessarily the most valuable at the tournament but who best exemplifies dedication by helping others in need, with all the best qualities of sportsmanship.
Montgomery High's Brian Alegre received this year's award for his exemplary involvement in local school and community service clubs, children's toy drives and work with the underserved and homeless. A student-athlete with a 4.0 grade-point average, Alegre competed in the 106-pound weight class at Saturday's tournament, placing sixth out of 11 wrestlers entered in his division.
The Mar Vista team also celebrated the elder Harbin's legacy with two weight class champions: 138-pounder Josh Walters and 152-pounder Aaron Olmos.
The younger Olmos is a freshman who began his wrestling career at the youth level with the IB Predators. The elder Olmos helped found the youth wrestling club to provide a feeder program for the high school.
Nine years later, the youth club is paying major dividends.
“What we haven’t had in the past is wrestlers coming to Mar Vista with experience, which is nice,” the elder Olmos explained. “You go to kids tournaments around the state and who do you see there? … Poway, of course.”
The younger Olmos entered the high school ranks as a four-time kids state placer. That honor earned him the No. 1 seed in his weight class at the Mar Vista tournament.
“That hard work that I’ve put in has paid off,” Aaron Olmos said. “I set my goals high so that I never underestimate myself.”
Defending South Bay League champion San Ysidro won the team title at Saturday’s tournament by registering 301 points — nearly 100 points ahead of runner-up Mira Mesa. Cougar coach Mario Ramirez is already calling this season’s SYHS mat squad the best in school history.
“We have a lot of talent,” he said succinctly. “We’re hoping to get some of our guys to the state meet. We’ve never had a state meet qualifier yet.”
The Cougars had six finalists and three weight class champions at the season kick-off event. Champions included Jose Reyes (126), Miguel Flores (132) and Esteban Espinoza (195) while Roberto Ala Torre (145), Alan Garcia (160) and Alejandro Cazares (220) each captured second-place medals.
Flores earned honors as the tournament’s outstanding light weight wrestler with three pins in four matches.
Parade of champions
Chula Vista posted its highest tourney placing in some time with its third-place showing in the 18-team field. The Spartans had one individual champion. Joey Bamba, seeded fifth, upset the No. 4 and No. 1 seeds en route to winning his 170-pound weight class.
CVHS coach Daryl Butterfield noted hard work and dedication by the coaching staff as a key ingredient to the Spartans’ resurgence. “Our numbers are up,” Butterfield said. “I think that makes it more competitive in the wrestling room. Our goal is to win the South Bay League and to send as many kids as possible to the state meet.”
Bonita Vista, which finished seventh in the team standings, had three finalists: Matt Ayala (second, 138), Andy Garcia (first, 160) and Anthony Diaz (second, 170).
BV’s Garcia, voted the upper weight MVP of last season’s Metro Conference championship tournament, earned accolades at the 2013 Battle by the Beach tournament’s outstanding middle weight wrestler with two pins and a tight 1-0 finals decision over SY’s Garcia. “I was proud to win last year’s MVP award but I couldn’t have done it without my teammates pushing me to improve each day,” BV’s Garcia said. “My goal is to keep improving this season, to make it to state with the support of my teammates, family and friends.”
Mater Dei Catholic’s Sean O’Rourke rounded out the impressive list of 13 Metro Conference finalists with a first-place medal at 145 pounds. O’Rourke finished second at last season’s Division IV section finals and was fifth at the San Diego Section state qualifying tournament — he’s taken aim to improve on both post-season finishes this season.
“Being in the finals at CIF was a confidence-builder going into Masters — that was my goal, to go to state, but that didn’t happen” he said. “But right after Masters I went to a couple of off-season tournaments with the goal to get better. The goal is the same this year — to go to state.”
Mar Vista Battle by the Beach
Saturday, Nov. 30/Mar Vista High School, Imperial Beach
Light weight: Miguel Flores (San Ysidro), 132 pounds
Middle weight: Andy Garcia (Bonita Vista), 160 pounds
Upper weight: Waseem Elhamad (Mira Mesa), 182 pounds
1. San Ysidro 301 points
2. Mira Mesa 221.5 points
3. Chula Vista 199 points
4. Point Loma 168 points
5. Grossmont 148 points
6. Brawley Union 143.5 points
7. Bonita Vista 140.5 points
8. Calexico 135 points
9. Monte Vista 125 points
10. Mar Vista 93 points
11. (tie) Montgomery 81 points
11. (tie) Serra 81 points
13. Mater Dei Catholic 76 points
14. West Hills 64.5 points
15. Canyon Crest Academy 36 points
16. (tie) Castle Park 18 points
16. (tie) Sweetwater 18 points
18. Southwest 14 points
106: Ernesto Pinedo (Brawley) pinned Giovanni Pagan (Monte Vista) 2:33
113: Mavrick Mooneyham (West Hills) decisioned Jason Ravarra (Mira Mesa) 4-0
120: Kevin Teran (Calexico) pinned Fernando Bauzo (Serra) 0:39
126: Jose Reyes (San Ysidro) major decisioned Mario Hernandez (Monte Vista) 9-1
132: Miguel Flores (San Ysidro) pinned Fernando Acuna (Brawley) 2:50
138: Josh Walters (Mar Vista) decisioned Matt Ayala (Bonita Vista) 3-1 (double-overtime)
145: Sean O'Rourke (Mater Dei Catholic) decisioned Roberto A La Torre (San Ysidro) 5-0
152: Aaron Olmos (Mar Vista) decisioned Nathan Maracle (Point Loma) 9-2
160: Andy Garcia (Bonita Vista) decisioned Alan Garcia (San Ysidro) 1-0
170: Joey Bamba (Chula Vista) major decisioned Anthony Diaz (Bonita Vista) 12-1
182: Waseem Elhamad (Mira Mesa) decisioned Joshua Lacosta (Mira Mesa) 10-8 (overtime)
195: Esteban Espinoza (San Ysidro) defeated Cody Stewart (Mira Mesa) by disqualification
220: Cristian Alba (Mira Mesa) decisioned Alejandro Cazares (San Ysidro) 4-0
285: Ricky Belmontez (Mira Mesa) decisioned Michael Serrano (Point Loma) 5-2