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Oh, what a day! Mustang mat men garner three CIF weight class titles Phillip Brents | Fri, Feb 22 2013 12:27 PM

It is said that good things come to those who wait. The Otay Ranch High School wrestling team certainly had done its share of waiting after coming within two points — a pair of one-point dual meet losses — of capturing this year’s Mesa League championship.

The Mustangs’ season-long wait was finally rewarded at last Saturday’s San Diego Section Division I championship meet. The tourney-host Mustangs put up some record numbers to be envious of: three weight class champions, four finalists, a meteoric fourth-place team finish and 10 qualifiers for this weekend’s San Diego Masters state qualifying tournament.

It’s hard to imagine a more successful outing for an Otay Ranch team, regardless of which powerhouse teams may or may not have been present this year.

“We kept working,” said ORHS coach Gabe Ruz, a two-time Olympian for Mexico. “Every week we worked harder. It seems that the guys get better each week.”

The Mustangs’ four horsemen included 108-pounder Tommy Espinoza, 122-pounder Jake Schaeffer, 182-pounder Jibreel Keddo and 197-pounder Rasheed Farha.

Espinoza, Keddo and Farha all won weight class titles while Schaeffer finished second.

Keddo received one of the two sportsmanship awards presented at the end of the awards ceremony.
“It means everything to me,” Keddo said. “Winning CIF was more than anything I could have hoped for. It’s an honor to have won it.”

The pain eased for others. “I just forgot about everything that had happened to that point and thought about what would happen today,” said Farha, the son of former Hoover 1994 Masters champion and eighth-place state medalist Mohammed Farha.

Espinoza, a state medalist as a sophomore, spoke for everyone on the team.

“This tournament wasn’t really about individuals but about our team,” he said. “I’m extremely proud of everybody. We qualified 10 to Masters — that’s never been done before. We left it all on the mat. On paper, we weren’t expected to do much, but we surprised a lot of people.”

Espinoza, who many are picking to advance to the championship match at Saturday’s Masters finals at Eastlake High School, breezed through the Division I finals with the focus and determination of a champion, not letting his guard down in recording three pins and a 19-4 technical fall. He pinned Carlsbad’s Jacob Cornell, the second seed in the weight class, in the title match in 2:35.

Keddo (seeded third) and Farha (seeded seventh) both were upset winners.

Keddo upset second-seeded Tyler Brown of San Pasqual in the semifinals on a comeback pin in 4:31 to set the Mustangs’ gym buzzing. Keddo then went on to top fourth-seeded Joshua Lacosta of Mira Mesa by a 14-7 decision in the championship round after Lacosta had shut out top-seeded James Murphy of Carlsbad by a 7-0 decision in the semifinals.

Farha made a statement early in the tournament by out-pointing Chula Vista’s Jaylon Candler, 9-4, in the quarterfinals. Candler, seeded second at the Division I finals, had edged Farha by a 12-7 score in the finals of the previous week’s Metro championship tournament.

Farha went on to out-point San Diego’s Philip Ward, 11-5, in the semifinals and posted a 10-4 decision over top-seeded Adam Waller of Escondido in the finals.

The elder Farha, overcome with elation, gathered his son in his arms and hoisted him in the air in a victory hug immediately after the match.

Schaeffer, seeded first, was embroiled in a back-and-forth match in the finals against second-seeded Nolan Browne of Rancho Buena Vista. Browne, however, finally got the upper hand on a 4:46 fall.

The top seven place-finishers at the Division I tournament earned qualifying berths to Masters.

The Mustangs’ Masters qualifiers also included Jacob Valois (fifth, 128), Adrian Hernandez (third, 134), Mike Newell (fifth, 147), Shawn Cooker (fifth, 162), Francisco Solis (seventh, 172) and Angel Tegardine (seventh, 222).

Terrific Titan
Eastlake finished seventh in the team standings while Chula Vista was 13th in the 18-team Division I field.

Overall, the Metro Conference advanced five grapplers to the finals, with Eastlake senior Casey Stanko (23-9) recording a runner-up finish in his 140-pound division.

Stanko, seeded third, dropped a hotly contested 6-5 match to Vista’s Mike Armstrong, the top-seeded wrestler in the weight class.

The EHS mat man, however, carried a sporty grin off the mat.

“I finished ninth in this tournament last year and to make the finals, win or lose, I knew I was going to walk off the mat with a big smile,” he said.

Stanko will be joined by six teammates at this weekend’s Masters tournament.

Other Division I Metro place-winners included Eastlake’s Timmy Vallejo (fourth, 122), Yoab Garcia (seventh, 134), Emmanuel Mercado (sixth, 147), Gabriel Tan (sixth, 162), Austin Ortiz (seventh, 184), Jamar Adams (fifth, 222) and Rodneal Ordonez (eighth, 287) and Chula Vista’s Christian Alonso (fifth, 134), Jaylon Candler (fourth, 197) and Hui Wolfgramm (third, 222).

Metro wrestlers make statement at CIF finals
The Metro Conference made a statement at last weekend’s San Diego Section divisional championships with 13 finalists and four weight class champions.

The Division I host Otay Ranch Mustangs led the local field with three CIF individual champions: Tommy Espinoza (27-4 at 108), Jibreel Keddo (30-7 at 184) and Rasheed Farha (22-3 at 197).

Castle Park’s Daniel Hernandez (31-2) rounded out the Metro’s parade of 2012-13 divisional champions by winning his 184-pound weight class at the Division III championships.

Mater Dei Catholic recorded three runner-up finishers at the Division IV tournament that they hosted: Alejandro Rivera (24-9 at 134), Sean O’Rourke (28-9 at 140) and Alonso Alzua (18-16 at 154).
The Hilltop Lancers, competing at the Division II finals at Westview, had two finalists: Cruz Jaime (29-6 at 115) and Jordan Griffin (30-8 at 122). Both narrowly lost Poway wrestlers: Jaime 3-1 to Janrad Fikingas and Griffin 7-5 to Taylor Dial.

Otay Ranch’s Jacob Schaeffer (122) and Eastlake’s Casey Stanko (140) both finished second at the Division I tournament while Mar Vista’s Josh Walters (128) and Johnny Hayes (197) were second at the Division IV finals.

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