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South County mat men star at prestigious ECI tournament Phillip Brents | Fri, Jan 07 2011 03:22 PM

The 2010 El Cajon Invitational wrestling tournament produced a fantastic showing by San Diego Section squads, and South County teams were no exception. The Otay Ranch Mustangs, braced by two finalists and one weight class champion, finished 10th in the team standings while the Eastlake Titans placed in a tie for 12th place and the Chula Vista Spartans, drum roll, finished in a tie for 15th place.

Overall, five San Diego County teams managed to crack the top 10 in the regional tourney draw— an elite area traditionally reserved for powerful out-of-area mat squads.

The Steele Canyon Cougars’ fourth-place finish was the highest by any section team. The Cougars, with eight medalists, finished with 148.5 points to place ahead of San Marcos (fifth, 132 points), Carlsbad (sixth, 115 points) and Rancho Buena Vista (seventh, 113 points).

Otay Ranch, with 97.5 points, trailed Sanger (eighth, 112.5 points) and Shadow Ridge (ninth, 104 points).

Northview (230.5 points), Cibola (217.5 points) and Sultana (173 points) captured the top three team place-finishes.

Ten teams from San Diego County comprised the top 16 teams in the Dec. 28-29 tournament, held at San Diego City College. Eastlake and Morse, tied for 12th place with 89 points, Orange Glen (14th, 78 points) and Granite Hills and Chula Vista, both tied for 15th place with 77 points.

Any way one added it up, it was an impressive showing for local mat men. A total of 14 Metro Conference wrestlers walked off the awards podium with medals (top eight place-finishes).

“The tournament was smaller than in years past but that didn’t mean it was any less tough,” Otay Ranch coach Troy Vierra said. “Both Eastlake and Chula Vista had wrestlers in the tournament for a long time in the back brackets. This is the best showing we’ve had as far as individuals go. We’re just hoping to keep improving. Our league is going to be tough.”

The Mustangs finished the section’s top regular season tournament with three medalists. Senior Eddie Estevez, a state qualifier as a sophomore, captured the title at 112 pounds while Tommy Espinoza finished runner-up at 103 pounds and heavyweight Jonathan Henkel placed sixth.

Estevez (9-0) defeated Palo Verde Nevada’s Jordan Hart by a 9-3 decision to cap a 4-0 showing in the tourney. Estevez, seeded fourth in the weight class, opened the tourney with a 21-6 technical fall against Northview’s Eric Ochoa and a 10-4 decision against Steele Canyon’s Jesse Cardenas to reach the quarterfinals opposite Cibola’s Isaac Camarillo, fresh off a dramatic 11-10 victory against top-seeded Micah Perez of Central Union.

Estevez maintained his momentum, however, with a 14-3 major decision over Camarillo to advance to the championship round against Hart, seeded second.

The highly regarded Perez finished third in the weight class.

“It’s not a surprise to us that he’s doing so well,” Vierra said in regard to Estevez. “He kind of got a bad break last year. He was seeded ninth in CIF and at Masters he wound up getting hurt against the No. 1 seed.”

Espinoza (10-2) was seeded third at 103 pounds and opened the tourney with three consecutive pins to advance to the finals. He recorded identical 2:47 falls in his first two matches while dropping Rancho Buena Vista’s Anthony Aquino and Scripps Ranch’s Edgar Palmes to the consolation bracket.

Espinoza drew second-seeded Travis Mishler of Steele Canyon in the semifinals. Espinoza pinned Mishler in 3:22.

In the championship round, the Otay Ranch sophomore drew top-seeded Rafael Jaimes of Cibola. Jaimes, however, only managed to squeeze out a 5-4 decision to claim the title.
“Tommy is just getting better,” Vierra said. “He’s always been tough but now he’s wrestling smarter and more solid.”

Henkel advanced to the quarterfinals with a 1:30 pin against El Cajon Valley’s Jewar Hussein and won two more bouts in the consolation bracket to qualify for the fifth-place match. Henkel won a tight 2-1 decision from Northview’s Nick Auxier to qualify for the medal rounds, and then pinned Sultana’s Jeremiah Pele in 2:46 to advance a round further.

In the fifth place match, Sanger’s Narciso Juares out-pointed Henkel 4-1.

Henkel finished third among section wrestlers in the weight class, trailing Orange Glen’s Jose Cortez (first place) and Eastlake’s Gabe Casillas (fourth place).

Eastlake finished with four medalists: Mathias Mendillo (fifth, 125 pounds), Gabe Nelson (fifth, 160 pounds), Esteban Baez (seventh, 135 pounds) and Casillas (heavyweight).
Nelson and Casillas both advanced to the semifinals.

Casillas, seeded fourth, dropped a narrow 8-7 decision to top-seeded Jose Cortez of Orange Glen in his semifinal match to come within an eyelash of qualifying for the championship round. The Eastlake grappler promptly righted himself with a 10-1 major decision victory over Otay Ranch’s Henkel to advance to the bronze medal match against Kofa’s Juan Ortiz, who recorded a tight 2-1 victory to place third.

Cortez won the heavyweight division with a 52-second fall in the final.

Nelson, seeded fifth, opened the tourney with three straight decisions to qualify for the championship semifinals but lost by a 1:15 pin to eventual weight class champion Dylin Rodriguez of Sanger to drop to the consolation bracket, already assured of a medal. Nelson lost by a 2:48 pin to San Marcos’ Drasko Bogdanovich in the consolation semifinals but recovered with a 7-4 victory over Scripps Ranch’s Alex Huynh to place fifth.

Mendillo, who opened the tourney with a 37-second fall, finished 5-2 in the two-day mat fest after recording an 8-5 decision over RBV’s Michael Herrera in the fifth-place match.
Baez topped Palo Verde’s Max Borboa by a 4-1 decision to place seventh.

Chula Vista finished with three medalists: John Hewuse (fifth, 103 pounds), Junior Torres (fifth, 119 pounds) and Christian Romero (sixth, 135 pounds).

Romero advanced to the semifinals with three consecutive pins before being pinned by Northview’s Daniel Valles and, in the process, dropping to the consolation rounds while assured of earning a medal. The Spartan mat man lost his final two matches — 9-0 to Cibola’s Pierre Guad and 8-1 to San Marcos’ Tavis Ino to finish sixth.

Torres won five matches in the tournament, including a 7-2 decision over Bonita Vista’s Michael Jaimes in the fifth-place bout.

Hewuse won four matches in the tournament, finishing with a 1:26 pin of El Capitan’s Emilio Rouse in the fifth-place bout.

Bonita Vista, which finished 22nd in the team standings, had three medalists: Kian Douglas (eighth, 103 pounds), Jaimes (sixth, 119 pounds) and Carlos Ayala (fifth, 130 pounds).

Ayala, seeded sixth, won his opening two matches in impressive fashion before running into eventual weight class champion and outstanding lightweight wrestler Joshua Joseph of Morse in the quarterfinals. Joshua, who finished the tournament with five pins in just 4:26, won by a 40-second fall.

Ayala went on to win three of his remaining four matches in the tourney, finishing with four pins and a 27-11 technical fall overall. Ayala pinned San Marcos’ Erik Collin in 4:52 to close out the tournament with a fifth-place medal.

Mater Dei Catholic, which finished 26th in the team standings, had one medalist: Efren Roman (seventh, 171 pounds).

Roman collected four wins in the tournament, including a 4:40 fall against Torrey Pines’ Colin Durkin in the medal-round finale.

In a show of force for the area, three South County mat men finished among the eight medalists in the 103-pound weight class, and two each in the 119, 135 and 285 divisions.

A total of five Metro grapplers advanced to the championship semifinals.

Mat attack
Steele Canyon and Carlsbad led the section with two finalists each. East County teams collected a combined 17 individual medals.

Carlsbad’s Chris Romero earned honors as the tournament’s outstanding upper weight wrestler after winning his 152-pound division with four pins. Lancer teammate Jesse Whalen-Orona was second at 160 pounds.

Five San Diego Section wrestlers walked off the mat with individual championship titles: Otay Ranch’s Estevez (112), Morse’s Joseph (130), Carlsbad’s Romero (152), RBV’s Jesus Ambriz (189) and Orange Glen’s Cortez (heavyweight).

Overall, 12 San Diego Section wrestlers advanced to the finals. Placing second in their respective weights were Otay Ranch’s Espinoza (103), Calexico’s Victor Lopez (119), Steele Canyon’s Jake Lincoln (125) and Brady Beamon (140), Central Union’s Josh McFadden (152), Carlsbad’s Jesse Whalen-Orona (160) and Granite Hills’ Colton Kloack (189).

San Marcos and Carlsbad each had five medalists, while RBV and Scripps Ranch (21st in the team standings) each had four medalists. Morse, Orange Glen, Granite Hills and Central Union each had three medalists.

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