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Metro grapplers turn in decent showing at state wrestling tournament Phillip Brents | Thu, Mar 13 2014 02:25 PM

The 42nd annual California state boys wrestling championship tournament ended its two-day run last Saturday at Bakersfield’s Rabobank Arena as Clovis High School recorded its fourth consecutive state team title and state record 12th overall.

Clovis topped the field with 197.5 points to best challenges from second place Clovis West (118.5 points) and third place Poway (110 points).

Gilroy senior Niko Villarreal (145 pounds) and Clovis senior Nick Nevills (285 pounds) became just the 18th and 19th wrestlers in the history of the meet to win three state titles. Three more grapplers won their second state titles at last weekend’s meet: Modesto sophomore Israel Saavedra (120), St. John Bosco junior Anthony Valencia (170) and Vacaville senior Jeramy Sweany (220).

The San Diego Section recorded its first two state champions since 2010 when Poway junior Colt Doyle defeated Oakmont senior Kaleio Romero, 8-5, to capture the 160-pound division and La Costa Canyon senior Ian Baker edged Liberty Madera junior Richard Ybarra-Brandt, 7-5, to claim the 195-pound title.

Rounding out the list of this year’s state champions are Clovis freshman Justin Mejhia (106), Monache senior Matt Gamble (113), Clovis West senior Michael Knoblauch (126), St. John Bosco junior Zahid Valencia (132), Modesto senior Emilio Saavedra (138), Gilory senior Paul Fox (152) and Folsom senior Nick Fiegener (182).

Rounding out the top 10 scoring teams were Gilroy (fourth, 107 points), Vacaville (fifth, 90 points), St. John Bosco (sixth, 88 points), Santiago (seventh, 85.5 points), Modesto (82.5 points), Buchanan (ninth, 79 points) and Bakersfield (10th, 75 points).

Overall, the San Diego Section finished this year’s state tournament with nine medalists. San Marcos senior Alex Graves (160) and Carlsbad senior Chance Eskam (285) both placed third in their respective weight classes while Brawley senior Vincent Elizalde (113), Poway senior Sergio Enloe (132), Poway junior Ralphy Tovar (145) and Rancho Buena Vista senior Joe Granger (152) all finished fourth while Poway junior Manny Lair (126) placed eighth.

The Metro Conference sent four qualifiers to this year’s state tournament: Otay Ranch seniors Jacob Schaeffer (120) and Rasheed Farha (220), San Ysidro senior Miguel Flores (132) and Mater Dei Catholic senior Sean O’Rourke (138).

Flores and O’Rourke each recorded 2-2 records to lead the local bunch, though it was O’Rourke who advanced the farthest.

The Mater Dei Catholic mat king finished among the top 16 wrestlers in his weight class; included in his run was a stunning upset of the eighth-ranked wrestler in the state.

“Sean didn’t make it to the second day but he did make it to the final round of 16,” Crusaders head coach Scott Ullsperger said. “It’s a whole different level at state. In the two days there you get to see all the faces and names of the guys who have been ranked in the state all season, and you get to see why.”

Tale of the tape
Both of Flores’ losses were to eventual state medalists while both of O’Rourke’s losses came against section champions.

O’Rourke won his opening match in the 40-man weight bracket by topping Servite junior J.J. Reed. However, James Logan’s Jacob Macalolooy prevented the Crusader grappler from advancing farther with a 7-1 victory.

Macalolooy eventually would go on to place seventh in the weight class.

The loss to the state’s ninth-ranked wrestler, O’Rourke dropped to the single-elimination consolation wrestle-backs where he went 1-1. The MDCHS wrestler recorded a 4-1 decision over Rowland senior Mario Lopez in his first consolation match but then exited the tournament with a 7-0 loss to Clovis West sophomore Chris Lane, the Central Section champion.

Lopez entered the state tournament ranked eighth in the weight class but O’Rourke, ranked 15th, administered the death-blow to the Rowland grappler on a takedown in the final 10 seconds of their match.

“Sean had to wrestle at his very best to get his two victories,” Ullsperger noted.

O’Rourke impressed enough people to reap a pair of prestigious honors at this year’s state tournament.

First, he received the state sportsmanship award, which fits his character.

Second, he received an at-large invitation to compete in the National High School Coaches Association senior national championships March 28-30 in Virginia Beach, Va.

The event is considered the most prestigious high school event, in any sport, throughout the country, and serves as a showcase for college recruiting.

The top eight place-finishers are crowned High School All-Americans.

“He and his parents are still mulling over the offer,” Ullsperger said.

Flores, the San Diego Section champion, won his opening two matches, defeating Bloomington senior Albert Arce, 6-4, in an out-bracket match and then pinning Gunn senior Ian Kramer in 3:46 in the ensuing round.

But Flores found his way barred in the championship bracket by Clovis Junior Isaiah Hokit, who defeated the San Ysidro wrestler by a score of 9-0.

Flores’ stay in the wrestle-backs was short-lived, however, when he came up on the short end of a 7-4 decision to Mission Oaks freshman Jaden Enriquez in his first consolation match.

Hokit, the Central Section’s fifth-place finisher and sixth-ranked wrestler in the state, went on to place third in the weight class while Enriquez, the Central Section champion and state's 12th-ranked wrestler, placed fourth.

Both Otay Ranch mat men turned in very respectable performances for first-time state qualifiers, with each dropping one match to an eventual state medalist.

Schaeffer won his first match by a 4-1 score against Del Oro junior Jansen Englebrecht, the sixth-place finisher at the Sac-Joaquin Section finals, but dropped his ensuing two matches — 9-0 against San Marino’s Evan Wick and 4-3 against Citrus Hill junior Anthony Vargas — to suffer elimination from the tournament.

Wick, the reigning Southern Section champion and third-ranked wrestler in the state, went on to place fifth in the weight class. 

Vargas finished ninth in the Southern Section finals.

Farha lost his opening match by a 3:47 pin to Alhambra senior Quentin Wright but avoided a 0-2 start by scoring an 11-3 major decision against Paramount junior Noe Sandoval, the ninth-place finisher in the Southern Section finals, in the single-elimination wrestle-backs. Farha, however, dropped a 4-1 decision to Elk Grove junior Sai Ta’amu, the fifth-place finisher at the Sac-Joaquin finals, in his next consolation match to close out a 1-2 showing.

Wright, the North Coast Section champion, went on to place seventh in the weight class.

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