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Metro wrestling finals on tap Saturday at Sweetwater High School Phillip Brents | Fri, Feb 10 2012 05:13 PM

Metro Conference wrestling coaches are hoping that Saturday’s championship tournament at Sweetwater High School brings out the best in their teams. Certainly, Castle Park junior Daniel Hernandez is hoping it continues to bring out the best in him.

Hernandez, a three-sport athlete (football, wrestling and track and field) at Troy, earned honors as the outstanding upper weight wrestler at last Saturday’s third annual South Bay Invitational at Otay Ranch High School.

“I like wrestling the best because it allows me to showcase what I can do,” he said. “I also like it because it’s an aggressive sport.”

Aggressive is something that Hernandez had to be last weekend after moving up a weight class. He received the No. 13 seed in the 182-pound division and proceeded in the course of his four matches on the day to pin the No. 4 seed, Madison’s Bryce Rattiner, in 2:18 in the first round, put the No. 5 seed, Valhalla’s Utah Mann, on his back in 5:30 in the second round, and pin the top seed, Poway’s Tyler Hammond, in 2:27 in the semifinals.

The CP matster topped off his 4-0 tourney showing by pinning second-seeded Tyler Roman of University City in 2:51 in the championship match.

Hernandez carries only two losses into this weekend’s Metro finals against more than 20 victories. He will be looking to improve on last year’s fourth-place showing.

“When I didn’t make 170s (at last weekend’s tournament), I knew I would have to wrestle up at 180s and it worked out for me,” he said. “It was a pretty good day.”

The Olympian Eagles also will be out to turn in a “good day” at Saturday’s conference finals. The Eagles produced five semifinalists at last weekend’s SBI, finishing the 19-team tournament with one champion and two finalists.

Jake Schaeffer claimed the championship at 105 pounds while Victor Huaracha finished second at 195 pounds. Jeremiah Deinla (126) placed third while Jose Gonzalez (113) and Joey Schaeffer (132) both finished fourth.

Olympian finished sixth in the team standings — 18 points behind fifth place Hilltop for conference bragging rights.

The Eagles had five medalists at the preceding San Ysidro Invitational, including two champions (Jake Schaeffer and Huaracha) and four finalists.

“”We’re hoping to do well, to make an impact,” OHS coach Aramis Vera said. “Olympian has never had a Metro champion and we’d like to get one.”

Who’s in first?
Eastlake captured last year’s Metro tournament team championship but Hilltop might have to be considered the favorite this year after topping the Titans, 32-28, in a Mesa League dual meet on Jan. 26.

The Lancers lost the opening two matches by decision to trail 6-0 and were down 12-3 after four of the 14 matches following a 38-second pin by Eastlake’s Alejandro Gil at 195 pounds. The Titans would extend their lead to 16-9 at the heavyweight match (an 8-0 major decision by Gabe Casillas) before the hosts began their comeback with 20 unanswered points.

Chris Navarro won by a 17-2 technical fall at 106 pounds to narrow the score to 16-14. Hilltop then reeled off back-to-back pins by Cruz Jaime (5:11) and Jordan Griffin (3:21), followed by Wyatt Brenner’s 8-4 win at 126 pounds to push the Lancers to a 29-16 lead.

Eastlake won by an 18-6 major decision at 132 pounds to trim the score to 29-20, but Hilltop responded with a 13-10 victory by Albert Navarro at 138 pounds to extended its lead to 32-20. The Titans had a chance to tie the score with pins in the final two bouts but instead had to settled for a minor decision (11-5 by Casey Stanko at 145 pounds) and technical fall (17-2 by Mathias Mendillo at 152 pounds) to fall four points shy.

Hilltop, fielding a split squad last weekend, still racked up an impressive list of eight medalists. They included Jon Velazquez (220) in second; Gabriel Estrada (120), Albert Navarro (145), Anthony Ardagna (154) and Tyler Kekic (170) in third; and Chris Navarro (106), Jeremy Early (152) and Raul Romo (220) in fifth.

Estrada, Albert Navarro, Ardagna, Early, Kekic, Romo and Velazquez all advanced to the semifinals, with Romo and Velazquez dueling for the right to advance to the championship round.

Velazquez won the all-Lancer semifinal by a 2:29 fall to meet Poway’s Thomas Hinch in the final. Hinch won the title by edging Velazquez, 3-1, in OT.

Otay Ranch finished 10th in the team standings at last weekend’s SBI, finishing with five medalists, including 115-pound champion Tommy Espinoza. Francisco Solis (fourth, 182), Manuel Razo (sixth, 145), Sean Cooker (sixth, 170) and Octavio Salgado (sixth, 220) also earned medals.

Espinoza improved to 30-0 on the season by defeating Poway’s Janrad Fikingas by a 9-4 decision in the championship round. Espinoza advanced to the final with two pins and an 18-3 technical fall.

He was wrestling a weight class above his usual 106 pounds where he currently holds down the No. 3 state ranking.

He said he’s looking forward to this weekend’s tournament that faces off the road to March’s state championship tournament in Bakersfield. The ORHS grappler finished seventh in the state last season.

“I’m getting over the sickness I’ve had the last two weeks and now that I’m getting back on my feet, I feel good,” he said. “But there are some areas I still need to work on. It’s about what matters at the end of the season. I’m going to train smarter, not harder. This is the fun part of the season, but you never know what will happen.”

“It all depends on who shows up to wrestle,” Mustang coach Gabe Ruz said in previewing Saturday’s conference finals for his team. “We have some exceptional wrestlers and some wrestlers who don’t have a lot of experience. We can fix the latter in the off-season.”

Metro roll call

Eastlake, also fielding a split squad, finished 12th at last weekend’s SBI while Castle Park was 13th and Mater Dei Catholic was 15th.

Eastlake’s medalists included Tyler Bashinski (fifth, 113), Colin Boroy (fourth, 120), Yoab Garcia (sixth, 132) and Rodneal Ordonez (sixth, 182).

Mater Dei Catholic’s medalists included Sean O’Rourke (sixth, 126) and Alejandro Rivera (third, 132).

Poway won the team title with 238 points, followed by San Pasqual (second, 181 points), Del Norte (third, 169 points) and Helix (fourth, 144 points).

Poway finished the tourney with 25 total pins, followed by Del Norte with 18 falls, San Pasqual with 15 pins, Helix with 14 falls, Torrey Pines with 13 pins, Hilltop with 12 falls and Oceanside and Eastlake each with 10 pins.

Poway’s Hammond finished with four falls in 7:15 total time. He was one of five wrestlers to record four pins, joining Oceanside’s Connor Stotts, Poway’s Jimmy Moreno, San Pasqual’s Connor Shinn and CP’s Hernandez.

Hernandez totaled four falls in 13:06.

Del Norte’s Evan McKirdy earned honors as the lower weight MVP after recording three pins and a 17-0 tech fall. He pinned UC’s Joe Charles in 50 seconds in the title bout.

The South Bay Invitational is co-hosted by Otay Ranch and Mater Dei Catholic high schools. For complete results, visit www.trackwrestling.com.

Mat attack
Saturday’s Metro championship tourney is scheduled to start at 9 a.m.

Metro grapplers also were in action last Saturday at the Robert Jenkins Memorial tourney at Mt. Miguel High School. San Ysidro was seventh in the 30-team field, followed by Mar Vista (12th), Chula Vista (16th), Bonita Vista (19th) and Southwest (22nd).

Top place-finishers included San Ysidro’s Miguel Flores (second at 113), Chula Vista’s Damian Alcala (second at 120) and Mar Vista’s Jon Nicoloff (second at 195).

Also showing well in the deep field were CV’s Bogart Marquez (fourth at 145), Mar Vista’s Jesse Terminel (third at 120) and Jerzy Barbato (third at 126), and Southwest’s Oscar Lezcano (fourth at 220).

Hilltop had two place-winners at the Jan. 27-28 Holtville Invitational: Jaime (fifth, 106) and Griffin (third, 113) while Eastlake’s top showers included Eduardo Hernandez (first, 152), Mendillo (second, 145) and Stanko (sixth, 138). Nicoloff was second at 195 while MV teammates Terminel (120) and Ricardo Moriel (170) both finished fifth.

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