The first time will always carry a special meaning. But the second time is just as memorable for the San Ysidro High School wrestling team.
The Cougars put any doubts to rest after repeating as the Metro Conference tournament team champions last Saturday at Eastlake High School. SYHS captured both the varsity and junior varsity team titles for the second year in a row — and did it by rather convincing margins.
“Repeating is sweeter because the kids were younger this year after we graduated so many off last year’s team,” Cougar coach Mario Ramirez said. “The going was tighter this year.”
San Ysidro topped runner-up Otay Ranch by 29 points to win the varsity team title and out-distanced Olympian by 52 points to finish at the top of the JV team standings.
Mario Yorba, who went undefeated in league dual competition for the South Bay League champion Cougars this season, was among two of the four San Ysidro wrestlers to win in the finals, joining heavyweight Alejandro Cazares.
Yorba earned honors as the tournament’s outstanding light weight wrestler after upsetting top-seeded Drake Madarang of Hilltop by a 14-9 decision in the championship match.
“I was just thinking of my team during my (finals) match,” Yorba explained. “Winning (the team title) feels great. It’s the best experience ever to go back-to-back.”
Hilltop was in the running to catch San Ysidro for the team title but won just two of five championship bouts.
Cruz Jaime (27-5) recorded the fastest pin of the finals at 12 seconds in winning his 115-pound match while Lancer teammate Jordan Griffin (28-7) captured the 127-pound title.
Otay Ranch had four finalists and two champions: Tommy Espinoza (108) and Jake Schaeffer (122).
Bonita Vista surprised the field with three weight class champions: Andres Garcia (154), Allin Breland (162) and William Ramirez (172).
Garcia (25-9) was chosen as the tournament’s outstanding upper weight wrestler.
“It’s an overwhelming feeling,” Garcia said. “When I went to Metros my first time last year, I did horrible. That’s what drove me to do better this year.”
Individual champions also included Mater Dei Catholic’s Alejandro Rivera (22-8) at 134 pounds, Eastlake’s Casey Stanko (21-8) at 140 pounds, Castle Park’s Daniel Hernandez (28-2) at 184 pounds, Chula Vista’s Jaylon Candler (20-4) at 197 pounds and Southwest’s Oscar Lezcano (29-6) at 222 pounds.
BV notched four finalists overall and also had two JV champions. “These guys deserved this,” said first-year BVHS coach Luis Ojeda, a former Metro standout at Southwest High School. “They’ve worked hard — they all push each other in the wrestling room. I’m really proud of all of them.
“We’re a young team. We have nine freshmen. I’m hoping next year we’ll be a little stronger. I hope we can continue in the off-season. Hopefully, we’ll be a force next year.
“In fact, we were one match away from defeating Hilltop, the Mesa League champions, this year. We lost 32-29.”
Otay’s runners-up included Jibreel Keddo (26-8) at 184 and Rasheed Farha (18-4) at 197.
Other finalists included Chula Vista’s Fabian Caldera (21-8) at 108; BV’s Nathan Humiston (16-8) at 115, Mar Vista’s Jesse Terminel (27-5) at 122; Olympian’s Elvin Obellos (26-7) at 128; San Ysidro’s Sergio Ramirez (134) and Roberto A La Torre (140); Hilltop’s Madarang, Xavier Plascencia (154) and David Velazquez (172); Castle Park’s Carlos O’Connor (19-5) at 162 and Robert Stretch (14-9 at 287; and Eastlake’s Jamar Adams (15-10) at 222.
Espinoza’s drop to 108 pounds was the surprise of the tournament. A state medalist (seventh) as a sophomore, the senior Mustang mat man had been competing at 113 pounds this season. “I talked with my coaches and I felt the best chance I had at winning a state title was at 108,” said Espinoza, who improved to 24-4. “I’ve already beaten everyone in the top five (at that weight).”
Otay’s Schaeffer and BV’s Breland pulled off two of the most dramatic wins in the varsity finals.
Schaeffer recorded a reversal with five seconds left in his match against 2012 Division III champion Jesse Terminel of Mar Vista to win 6-4 (after Terminel had tied the match at 4-4 with five seconds left in the second period).
Schaeffer’s father Joe Schaeffer was a Metro champion at Hilltop in 1986.
“It feels great to follow in his footsteps — he’s been a big inspiration in my wrestling,” the younger Schaeffer said. “But my aspirations don’t end with the Metro League.”
Meanwhile, Breland (31-6) pinned Castle Park’s O’Connor with one second left in regulation to earn a congratulatory roar from the crowd.
Lower-seeded wrestlers to win championship titles included Eastlake’s Stanko and San Ysidro’s Yorba and Cazares (17-6), all seeded second.
BV’s Ramirez (20-7) and CP’s Hernandez had the best runs of the tournament with two pins and a technical fall each.
Weird karma: Otay Ranch made amends for two one-point dual meet losses to Eastlake (33-32 on Jan. 31) and Hilltop (34-33 on Feb. 7) by edging out both teams at last weekend’s championship tournament. The Mustangs edged Hilltop by one-half point to secure second place and bettered the Titans by 20.5 points.
Next up: The divisional championships are scheduled this Saturday. Otay Ranch will host the Division I finals while Mater Dei Catholic will host the Division IV tournament. Other sites: Division II at Westview and Division III at Cathedral Catholic. Finals matches are scheduled to start no earlier than 5 p.m. at all four sites.
San Ysidro wrestlers and coaches celebrate the Cougars’ second consecutive Metro Conference team championship.
Bonita Vista’s Andres Garcia proudly displays his Metro Conference championship tournament MVP award.
Metro Conference Wrestling Championships
Feb. 9 at Eastlake High School
1. San Ysidro 171.5, 2. Otay Ranch 142.5, 3. Hilltop 142, 4. Eastlake 122, 5. Bonita Vista 109.5, 6. Chula Vista 107, 7. Mar Vista 62.5, 8. Olympian 60, 9. Castle Park 59.5, 10. Southwest 38, 11. Sweetwater 36, 12. Montgomery 29, 13. Mater Dei Catholic 20
108: Tommy Espinoza (Otay Ranch) pinned Fabian Caldera (Chula Vista) 1:35
115: Cruz Jaime (Hilltop) pinned Nathan Humiston (Bonita Vista) 0:12
122: Jacob Schaeffer (Otay Ranch) decisioned Jesse Terminel (Mar Vista) 6-4
128: Jordan Griffin (Hilltop) decisioned Elvin Obellos (Olympian) 11-4
134: Alejandro Rivera (Mater Dei Catholic) decisioned Sergio Ramirez (San Ysidro) 5-4
140: Casey Stanko (Eastlake) major decisioned Roberto A La Torre (San Ysidro) 9-1
147: Mario Yorba (San Ysidro) decisioned Drake Madarang (Hilltop) 14-9
154: Andres Garcia (Bonita Vista) decisioned Xavier Plascencia (Hilltop) 6-5
162: Allin Breland (Bonita Vista) pinned Carlos O’Connor (Castle Park) 5:59
172: William Ramirez (Bonita Vista) tech fall David Velazquez (Hilltop) 18-3
184: Daniel Hernandez (Castle Park) tech fall Jibreel Keddo (Otay Ranch) 21-6
197: Jaylon Candler (Chula Vista) decisioned Rasheed Farha (Otay Ranch) 12-7
222: Oscar Lezcano (Southwest) decisioned Jamar Adams (Eastlake) 8-7
287: Alejandro Cazares (San Ysidro) pinned Robert Stretch (Castle Park) 4:30
Third Place Matches
108: Taku Furukawa (Bonita Vista) pinned Koa Cabling (Eastlake) 1:48
115: Miguel Alvarez (San Ysidro) pinned Tyler Cisneros (Chula Vista) 2:15
122: Dante Preciado (Olympian) decisioned Jose Reyes (San Ysidro) 10-4
128: Mario A La Torre (San Ysidro) decsioned Jose Pedroza (Sweetwater) 9-7
134: Wyatt Brenner (Hilltop) decisioned Jacob Valois (Otay Ranch) 5-1
140: Jeremiah Deinla (Olympian) decisioned Adrian Hernandez (Otay Ranch) 5-1
147: Emmanuel Mercado (Eastlake) decisioned Rogelio Garcia (Southwest) 10-5
154: Alan Garcia (San Ysidro) decisioned Erich Loechner (Eastlake) 13-9
162: Joseph Kincaid (Mar Vista) decisioned Gabe Tan (Eastlake) 9-6
172: Francisco Solis (Otay Ranch) tech fall Hachem Nasser (Chula Vista) 17-1
184: Victor Diaz (Montgomery) decisioned Jesus Hernandez (San Ysidro) 6-5
197: Armando Valenzuela (Hilltop) pinned Kim Tongson (Sweetwater) 1:09
222: Hui Wolfgramm (Chula Vista) pinned Angel Tegardine (Otay Ranch) 2:04
287: Alexis Chavez (Chula Vista) decisioned Rodneal Ordonez (Eastlake) 4-0
Junior Varsity Champions
1. San Ysidro 170, 2. Olympian 118, 3. Bonita Vista 105, 4. Mater Dei Catholic 93, 5. Hilltop 91.5, 6. Otay Ranch 85, 7. Castle Park 64, 8. Eastlake 60.5, 9. Sweetwater 43, 10. Chula Vista 23, 11. Montgomery 20
Weight Class Champions
108: Matthew Reynoso (Bonita Vista). 115: Carlos Callejas (Hilltop). 122: Fernando Bello (Hilltop). 128: Gavin Untalan (Olympian). 134: Ryan Garcia (Mater Dei Catholic). 140: Erick Robles (Castle Park). 147: Yoab Garcia (Eastlake). 154: Daniel Da’Rold (Otay Ranch). 162: Anthony Diaz (Bonita Vista). 172: Carlos Castaneda (San Ysidro). 184: Cesar Serrano (San Ysidro). 197: Miguel Bracamontes (San Ysidro). 222: Jesus Marquez (Sweetwater). 287: Fabian Gonzalez (Olympian).