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Otay Ranch Mustangs are looking mighty for Metro finals Phillip Brents | Sat, Mar 05 2011 01:55 AM

The Otay Ranch Mustangs have consistently led South County teams in the team standings throughout the tournament season and will be out to return to familiar territory at Saturday’s Metro Conference championship meet.

The tournament, which will take place at Olympian High School, is scheduled to run from 9 am. to about 4 p.m.

“You’ve got to go into something like that thinking you can win it, but so are other teams,” ORHS coach Troy Vierra said.

Vierra’s Mustangs recorded yet another impressive tournament showing by finishing second at last Saturday’s second annual South Bay Invitational at Otay Ranch High School. A total of 28 teams competed. Monte Vista captured the team title with 184 points, followed by the Mustangs with 156.5 points — nine points ahead of Poway (which featured varsity grapplers Josh Miranda and Chad Gregory).

Eastlake finished sixth in the team standings with 127.5 points, followed by Olympian in seventh place with 90 points.

The tournament featured a grab bag of wrestling talent in search of seeding points as the regular season wrapped up.

Otay Ranch totaled four finalists, three champions and 10 place-winners. The Mustangs advanced five mat men to the semifinals.

Tommy Espinoza (105), Eddie Estevez (114) and Jonathan Henkel (285) all claimed first-place finishes while  Albert Lopez (147) placed second.

Espinoza (21-1) recorded an impressive 17-2 win by technical fall against Valley Center’s Juan Oros (24-3) while Estevez out-pointed Scripps Ranch’s Ned Johnson (20-7) by an 8-1 score.

Henkel’s title came in heroic fashion as he topped previously undefeated Gabi Musallam of Mira Mesa by a 10-4 decision. Musallam entered the finals with a sterling 34-0 record and 30 pins.

Henkel (16-3) said his win was not an upset. “I expected to win,” he said. “I knew I had to break him down from neutral and put him on his back for more points. The win was good for my mental strategy.”

Henkel has 14 pins among his 16 victories. “I want to keep wrestling smart, finish my moves and never give up,” he said.

Lopez (26-6) finished runner-up to Brawley’s Sawyer Smith (24-1) by a 17-2 technical fall.
Cody Springsguth (154) also made it to the semifinals but ran into injury problems in dropping a match by pin to Ramona’s Marco Herrera. The ORHS mat man eventually placed fifth.

Other Mustang place-winners included Marcos Santana (seventh, 105), Manuel Razo (third, 137), Rogelio Lopez (seventh, 137), Kyle Petrin (seventh, 142 pounds) and Chris Obellos (seventh, 162).
Santana and Lopez both competed for the Mustangs’ B  team in the tourney.

“We have a core of wrestlers who have consistently placed near the top of their weights  in tournaments and we have others who have scored points for us,” Vierra said.

Eastlake had three champions and seven place-winners. Mathias Mendillo (127), Abraham Sanchez (132) and Gabriel Nelson (173) each won weight class titles while Estevan Baez finished third at 137 pounds, Tyler Bashinski finished fifth at 114 pounds and Omar Mercado finished fifth at 217 pounds. Nathan Mitchell was seventh at 173 pounds for the Titans’  B team.

Mendillo (22-11) scored an 11-2 major decision against Ramona’s Kevin Conroy (16-9), Sanchez (22-11) won by injury default over Poway’s Gregory (14-4)while Nelson (24-9) pinned Monte Vista’s Phillip Kyler (31-6) in 3:39.

Sweetwater’s Adan Mendez (23-6) finished second at 137 pounds after losing by an 8-2 decision to Monte Vista’s Daniel Leyva (26-7).

The tournament served as a  tune-up for this weekend’s Metro finals for many wrestlers.
Olympian’s Devon Flores (173), Victor Huaracha (191) and John Grylls (217) all finished third  while Jose Gonzalez was fifth at 121 pounds and Ceazar Bautista was seventh at 132 pounds.

Castle Park’s Jovannie Gonzales (162) and Paul Sierra (285) both finished third  while  Daniel Hernandez was fifth at 154 pounds and Francisco Cortez was seventh at 191 pounds.

Montgomery’s Kevin Custeau was fifth at 142 pounds while Sweetwater’s Brian Barrios was seventh at 191 pounds.

Olympian has consistently placed the highest among South Bay League teams throughout the tournament season. The Eagles entered Thursday’s regular  season finale undefeated in league dual competition.

“It’s the culmination of four years of hard work that started with a great group of ninth and 10th grade students,” OHS coach Aramis Vera said. “The team really worked hard over the offseason and they never gave up on each other throughout the process. It was their close team bond that really made the difference. But we could not have done it without coach George Mancillas, who mentored the team and coaching staff. He took us under his wing and guided us since the beginning.”

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