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Hilltop's Jaime quietly making case for state meet appearance Phillip Brents | Fri, Jan 11 2013 12:28 PM

Hilltop High School senior Cruz Jaime might have had good reason to be intimidated when competing in the Las Vegas Holiday Classic over the winter break, considering there were 62 competitors in his 115-pound weight bracket.

But the Lancer mat man focused on one number — first place — and accomplished that goal with an 11-4 decision over Josh Olson from Cibola (Ariz.) in the championship round.

Jaime finished 6-0 in the massive draw to cap an impressive performance.

He continued to impress closer to home by winning the 113-pound division at last Saturday’s Monte Vista Invitational. He was one of three finalists, two champions and nine medalists overall for third place Hilltop.

The Lancer grappler picked up three more wins, including two falls, to push his season record to 16-1. He pinned West Hills’ Mavrick Mooneyham in 5:38 in the title match.

Jaime still has flashbacks to winning the huge Las Vegas event.

“I wasn’t intimidated,” he said. “I went in there knowing I had pretty much fixed all the mistakes I made at the La Costa Canyon tournament (a second-place finish in a 37-team multi-state draw). I also went in knowing that everyone is beatable.”

Olson carried a 20-3 record into the championship round before being toppled by Jaime — one of two San Diego Section champions and three section finalists at the 81-team event.

Jaime rates as one of the Metro Conference’s elite grapplers at the midpoint of this season. The top three place-finishers in each of 14 weight classes at the season-ending San Diego Masters championships qualify to compete in the state championship meet.

He entered the Monte Vista Invitational ranked third in the section in his weight class behind Brawley’s Vinny Elizalde and Poway’s Tirso Lara, both state qualifiers in 2011-12.

The Hilltop matster finished second at last year’s San Diego Section Division II finals but failed to reach the award stand at the ensuing Masters meet.

His goals are obviously higher this season.

“I just want to keep wrestling hard and make it to state,” he said.

He’s not alone in that goal among local grapplers.

Jaime was among six Metro wrestlers to make it to the finals of last weekend’s Monte Vista Invitational, and one of an impressive list of five South County champions.

•Mar Vista’s Jesse Terminel captured the tournament’s outstanding lower weight award after winning his 120-pound division on the strength of a 6-2 decision over Poway’s Marcon Fikingas in the championship match.

•Hilltop’s Jordan Griffin, a division champion and sixth-place finisher at Masters last season, recorded a 12-2 major decision over West Hills’ John Lancaster to emerge as the champion at 126 pounds. Griffin was dominant, opening the 16-team tourney with pins of 5:59 and 1:42.

•Otay Ranch’s Jibreel Keddo, seeded third, surprised the field with a 7-4 victory against top-seeded Glenn Littlepage of Monte Vista to capture the 182-pound title.

•Chula Vista’s Jaylon Candler out-pointed top-seeded Angel Sandoval of West Hills, 13-9, to win the 195-pound championship.

•Hilltop’s Xavier Plascenia finished second at 160 pounds following a 7-2 loss to Granite Hills’ Sage Espinoza.

Candler, who previously won his weight class at the Mission Hills tournament, improved to 14-3 on the season. He remains a favorite to win his weight class at February’s conference finals.

“He’s wrestling well; he just need to gain more experience,” CVHS coach Daryl Butterfield said.

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