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Mustang mat men are Metro tourney champs, though belatedly Phillip Brents | Fri, Apr 04 2014 02:29 PM

Otay Ranch High School wrestling coach Gabe Ruz is getting ready to set a date for his team’s awards banquet. It figures to be soon, he said.

At the centerpiece of the awards the team collected this past season will be the Metro Conference tournament championship trophy.

It’s in the Mustangs’ possession now, but it wasn’t at the conclusion of the Feb. 15 tournament that took place at Sweetwater High School.

During the post-event awards ceremony, the San Ysidro Cougars were announced as the varsity team champions for the third consecutive year and hoisted the impressive-sized first-place team trophy.

Otay Ranch finished second by eight points and also received a large trophy, though one labeled with second place.

The Mustangs, Mesa League dual meet co-champions with Hilltop, had given a valiant effort but had fallen short — or so it appeared at the time.

As the teams were preparing to compete in the San Diego Section divisional tournaments that ensuing weekend, doubts began to emerge about which team actually won the tournament.

The Metro Conference began an investigation and eventually concluded that one of San Ysidro’s wrestlers had been ineligible to compete.

After all the points that particular wrestler had earned during the tournament were erased, there was a different outcome: Otay Ranch finished first by two points.

An exchange of trophies was later arranged.

“We have the trophy now,” Ruz noted.

After the forfeiture was accounted for, only the two top teams switched places. The order of finish remained the same for the rest of the teams in the 13-deep field.

Chula Vista finished in third place, followed by Hilltop, Eastlake, Olympian, Montgomery, Bonita Vista, Mar Vista, Castle Park, Mater Dei Catholic, Sweetwater and Southwest.

The Mustangs, who qualified two wrestlers for this year’s state tournament in Bakersfield, have been waiting for more than a month for an announcement to be made public.

“The only disappointment is that our boys didn’t get the recognition at the moment,” said Ruz, a two-time Olympian for Mexico. “All throughout the tournament, our boys wrestled like champions.”

And now they are, officially.

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