Metro Conference wrestling coaches decided this season to revert to a single conference championship tournament, eliminating separate Mesa League and South Bay League medalist awards. It was thus easy to pick the outstanding team at last Saturday’s finals at Olympian High School: the Eastlake Titans.
The Titans, fresh off a 35-22 dual meet victory two days earlier at Otay Ranch that gave them this year’s Mesa League championship, out-pointed the Mustangs once again at the tournament finals to capture the first place team trophy. Eastlake finished the 13-team tournament with 181 points. Otay Ranch finished runner-up with 155.5 points.
Rounding out the order of finish, Hilltop was third with 137 points, followed by San Ysidro (fourth place, 117 points), Mar Vista (fifth place, 109.5 points), Chula Vista (sixth place, 100 points), Olympian (seventh place, 88 points), Bonita Vista (eighth place, 76 points), Mater Dei Catholic (ninth place, 46 points), Castle Park (10th place, 35.5 points) and Sweetwater (11th place, 27.5 points).
Eastlake advanced seven wrestlers to the championship finals, with five Titans winning weight class titles. Otay Ranch had four champions while San Ysidro had two champions. Bonita Vista, Sweetwater and Mater Dei Catholic each had one champion.
Bonita Vista senior 132-pounder Carlos Ayala (lightweight) and Eastlake junior 287-pounder Gabe Casillas (heavyweight) were selected as the tournament’s outstanding wrestlers.
“It feels great,” Casillas said. “We worked hard throughout the whole season. It’s great to know all that hard work paid off.”
Casillas won his heavyweight division by finishing undefeated in his three matches, opening with a 1:59 pin against Castle Park’s Paul Sierra in the quarterfinals and tacking on a 4-0 victory over San Ysidro’s Jonathan Bastien in the semifinals. Casillas, the top-seeded wrestler in his weight class, out-pointed Olympian’s Jesse Perez, 5-1, in the championship round.
Perez entered the finals with a 31-2 record and 29 pins.
“Winning the MVP award means a lot to me personally,” Casillas said. “I’m extremely proud to get it with it being my first varsity year. Hopefully, I’ll get it again next year.”
Ayala, seeded second in his weight class, upset top-seeded Abraham Sanchez of Eastlake in the finals by a 3-1 decision. The winning points came in the last seconds of the match.
Ayala (30-7) opened the tournament with a 1:06 pin against Otay Ranch’s Rogelio Lopez and recorded a 6-3 decision against Mar Vista’s Max Uribe in the semifinals.
Team champion Eastlake’s individual champions also included 127-pounder Mathias Mendillo, 142-pounder Casey Stanko, 162-pounder Stevie Cervantes and 173-pounder Gabriel Nelson.
Mendillo (25-10) made one of the most impressive runs through this year’s tournament with pins of 1:48 and 4:42 in his first two matches and an 18-3 technical fall in the finals against Hilltop’s Wyatt Brenner.
Stanko, a sophomore who earned a surprise promotion to the varsity level this season, improved to 24-8 after defeating Hilltop’s Albert Navarro, 9-2, in the championship round. Stanko won all three matches in the tournament by relatively close margins, edging Southwest’s Rogelio Garcia (7-5) and Otay Ranch’s Kyle Petrin (7-6) to chart a course for an appearance in the championship match.
“I didn’t expect to be seeded first in this tournament — I definitely surprised myself,” Stanko gushed. “I had a winning record last year on JV but I thought at first I might just have a mediocre first varsity season. But it didn’t turn out that way at all.”
Cervantes was yet another top-seeded Titan to win on the mat after securing the gold medal with a 5-1 minor decision against Bonita Vista’s Taylor Breland (25-10). Cervantes defeated Mar Vista’s Thomas Castillo by a 10-1 major decision in the semifinals.
Nelson, who has to rank as one of the physically strongest grapplers in the conference, recorded a 5-1 upset decision in the finals against top-seeded Efren Roman of Mater Dei Catholic.
Roman (25-5) entered the tournament sporting a first place finish at the midseason Jim Londos Memorial Invitational and a runner-up finish at the recent Holtville tournament and advanced to the Metro title match on the strength of 1:12 and 5:34 pins. But Nelson, seeded second, fought Roman to a standoff for half of the finals match before taking his opponent to the mat for the match-winning points.
Nelson opened the tourney with a 16-0 technical fall and tacked on an 18-8 major decision in the semifinals over Olympian’s Devon Flores.
Omar Mercado, the Titans’ other finalist, finished second at 217 pounds following a 3-2 loss to Mater Dei Catholic’s Mike Gamboa.
Otay Ranch’s impressive list of individual champions included 105-pounder Tommy Espinoza, 114-pounder Eddie Estevez, 147-pounder Albert Lopez and 154-pounder Cody Springsguth.
Espinoza (26-5) used his trademark lightning-quick, slick moves to score a 19-8 major decision over Hilltop’s Jordan Griffin in the championship round to cap a perfect 3-0 showing in the tournament. The Otay Ranch matster also recorded pins of 3:24 and 1:30 in preliminary matches.
Estevez, the conference’s only returning state meet qualifier, was nearly perfect on the day by allowing just one point scored against him in three matches. Estevez (24-2) scored falls in 1:39 and 3:14 in his first two matches and then recorded a 15-0 technical fall in the finals against Chula Vista’s Damian Alcala for his third Metro title.
Lopez topped Hilltop’s Jason Jasmund by a 15-5 major decision in the championship round but had to fight off an injury suffered late in the match to complete his victory. He was unable to appear on the post-tournament award stand to accept his medal.
Both Lopez and Jasmund were dominant in their opening two matches, with top-seeded Lopez winning by pins of 2:07 and 2:38 and second-seeded Jasmund scoring falls in 52 seconds and 3:08.
Springsguth (22-10) made his top-seeded status stand up after scoring a 1:26 fall in his opening match, a 9-5 victory over Olympian’s Billal Alemi in the semifinals and a 17-7 major decision over Mar Vista’s Albert Ludwig in the championship round.
“I got my second wind,” said Springsguth, the Mustangs’ back-up quarterback during the fall football season.
A total of six schools were represented by individual champions in the varsity tournament. The top three place-finishers in each of the 14 weights received medals.
San Ysidro’s two champions included 121-pounder Joey Alvarez and 191-pounder Fernando Lopez. Alvarez defeated Chula Visa’s Junior Torres, 7-2, while Lopez claimed a dramatic 6-5 triple overtime win over top-seeded Jon Nicoloff of Mar Vista.
Alvarez, seeded first, shut out Bonita Vista’s Michael Jaimes, 7-0, in the semifinals while Torres, seeded third, recorded a 5-2 upset win over Olympian’s Jose Gonzalez in the semis.
Nicoloff held off Olympian’s Victor Huarche, 15-13, in the semifinals to advance to the championship match while SY’s Lopez out-pointed Hilltop’s Carlos Garcia 8-3.
Sweetwater’s Adan Mendez, after settling for second-place finishes in both the Mar Vista and Monte Vista tournaments, scored a 10-6 win over Chula Vista’s Bogart Marquez in the 137-pound final of last Saturday’s Metro tourney. The SuHi grappler, seeded first in the weight class, advanced to the championship round with a 16-0 technical fall and 3:34 pin.
Marquez, seeded third, recorded a 2-0 upset win of second-seeded Esteban Baez of Eastlake in the semifinals.
MDC’s Gamboa received the No. 2 seed in the 217-pound division and had to eke out a pair of nail-biting victories to advance to the finals, defeating Southwest’s Jesus Macias by a 2-0 decision in his first match and then edging Hilltop’s Ryan Taylor, 4-3, in the semifinals.
Eastlake’s Mercado, seeded fourth, won a tight 4-2 match-up against top-seeded John Grylls of Olympian in the semifinals to meet Gamboa in the championship round.
The tournament’s top varsity competitors were spread fairly evenly throughout the conference. Hilltop finished the tournament with four varsity finalists while Chula Vista had three finalists and Bonita Vista, Mar Vista and Mater Dei Catholic each had two finalists.
Chula Vista had an upbeat season in 2010-11 by challenging deep into regular season invitational tournaments. Some missing links at the Metro finals diminished the Spartans’ scoring potential somewhat.
“We’re trying to get more kids out to have more competition in the wrestling room,” CVHS head coach Daryl Butterfield said. “We had some great home meets this year. They were exciting because a lot of fans came out to watch us.”
Butterfield noted his team lost two league dual meets by a total of five points this season. “We’ve got a great tournament team but we have a few holes in our lineup that hurts us in duals,” he said.
2011 Metro Conference Wrestling Championships
Feb. 12 at Olympian High School
105: Tommy Espinoza (Otay Ranch) major decisioned Jordan Griffin (Hilltop) 19-8
114: Eddie Estevez (Otay Ranch) tech fall Damian Alcala (Chula Vista) 15-0
121: Joey Alvarez (San Ysidro) decisioned Junior Torres (Chula Vista) 7-2
127: Mathias Mendillo (Eastlake) tech fall Wyatt Brenner (Hilltop) 18-3
132: Carlos Ayala (Bonita Vista) decisioned Abraham Sanchez (Eastlake) 3-1
137: Adan Mendez (Sweetwater) decisioned Bogart Marquez (Chula Vista) 10-6
142: Casey Stanko (Eastlake) decisioned Albert Navarro (Hilltop) 9-2
147: Albert Lopez (Otay Ranch) major decisioned Jason Jasmund (Hilltop) 15-5
154: Cody Springsguth (Otay Ranch) major decisioned Albert Ludwig (Mar Vista) 17-7
162: Stevie Cervantes (Eastlake) decisioned Taylor Breland (Bonita Vista) 5-1
173: Gabriel Nelson (Eastlake) decisioned Efren Roman (Mater Dei Catholic) 5-1
191: Fernando Lopez (San Ysidro) decisioined Jon Nicoloff (Mar Vista) 6-5 (3OT)
217: Mike Gamboa (Mater Dei Catholic) decisioned Omar Mercado (Eastlake) 3-2
287: Gabriel Casillas (Eastlake) decisioned Jesse Perez (Olympian) 5-1
105: John Hewuse (Chula Vista) decisioned Miguel Flores (San Ysidro) 9-8
114: Jaime Cruz (Hilltop) decisioned Carlos Portillo (San Ysidro) 5-2
121: Michael Jaimes (Bonita Vista) decisioned Jose Gonzalez (Olympian) 7-2
127: Jerzy Barbato (Mar Vista) decisioned Sergio Ramirez (San Ysidro) 5-1
132: Max Uribe (Mar Vista) major decisioned Christian Romero (Chula Vista) 9-0
137: Esteban Baez (Eastlake) decisioned Manual Razo (Otay Ranch) 5-4
142: Kyle Petrin (Otay Ranch) major decisioned Andres Escalarte (San Ysidro) 13-4
147: Misseal Rodriguez (San Ysidro) decisioned Junior Rodriguez (Mar Vista) 11-9
154: Eduardo Hernandez (Eastlake) decisioned Daniel Hernandez (Castle Park) 13-11 (3OT)
162: Jovannie Gonzales (Castle Park) pinned Zack LaBrenz (Hilltop) 4:06
173: Christopher Alcala (Chula Vista) decisioned Devon Flores (Olympian) 3-2
191: Victor Huarache (Olympian) defeated Larae Butler (Chula Vista) by default
217: Ryan Taylor (Hilltop) major decisioned Jesus Macias (Southwest) 13-4
287: Claudio Narez-Ortiz (Hilltop) major decisioned Zach Ayala (Bonita Vista) 16-2
Complete results: www.sdprepsports.com/sdgrappler
Varsity team standings
Otay Ranch 155.5
San Ysidro 117
Mar Vista 109.5
Chula Vista 100
Bonita Vista 76
Mater Dei Catholic 46
Castle Park 35.5
MVP lowerweight: Carlos Ayala (Bonita Vista), 132 pounds
MVP heavyweight: Gabe Casillas (Eastlake), 287 pounds
JV Team Standings
Otay Ranch 142.5
San Ysidro 83
Castle Park 82
Mater Dei Catholic 56
Bonita Vista 47
Chula Vista 29
Mar Vista 25
Varsity Tournament Champions
1987: Hilltop Lancers. 1988: Bonita Vista Barons (Castle Park forfeited title due to ineligible wrestler). 1989: Castle Park Trojans.
1990: Chula Vista Spartans. 1991: Hilltop Lancers. 1992: Bonita Vista Barons. 1993: Bonita Vista Barons. 1994: Montgomery Aztecs. 1995: Montgomery Aztecs. 1996: Chula Vista Spartans. 1997: Hilltop Lancers. 1998: Hilltop Lancers. 1999: Hilltop Lancers.
2000: Eastlake Titans. 2001: Eastlake Titans. 2002: Eastlake Titans. 2003: Eastlake Titans. 2004: Hilltop Lancers. 2005: Hilltop Lancers. 2006: Hilltop Lancers. 2007: Hilltop Lancers. 2008: Bonita Vista. Barons. 2009: Bonita Vista Barons.
2010: Hilltop Lancers. 2011: Eastlake Titans.
Dual Meet Standings
School W L
Eastlake 5 0
Otay Ranch 4 1
Hilltop 3 2
Chula Vista 2 3
Bonita Vista 1 4
Mater Dei Catholic 0 5
South Bay League
School W L
Olympian 6 0
Mar Vista 5 1
San Ysidro 4 2
Castle Park 3 3
Southwest 2 4
Sweetwater 1 5
Montgomery 0 6