CIF wrestling tournaments kick off road to state meet this weekend

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San Diego Section wrestlers will embark on their first stop on the road to next month’s state championship tournament by competing in Saturday’s upcoming divisional finals.

A select number of wrestlers from each of four divisional tournaments will advance to the section’s two-day Masters state qualifying meet Feb. 27-28 at Southwest High School in El Centro.

San Diego Section wrestlers will embark on their first stop on the road to next month’s state championship tournament by competing in Saturday’s upcoming divisional finals.

A select number of wrestlers from each of four divisional tournaments will advance to the section’s two-day Masters state qualifying meet Feb. 27-28 at Southwest High School in El Centro.

The top three place-finishers in each of 14-weight classes advance, in turn, to the state championship meet the following weekend, March 6-7, in Bakersfield.

A number of East County wrestlers are hopeful of making the trek.

“Definitely, I think I’ve improved from last season,” Steele Canyon 182-pounder Colin Forman explained. “I want to do really well at CIF, go to Masters and place there.”

East County mat men tuned up for post-season competition by competing in two invitational tournaments Feb. 7. The Robert Jenkins Memorial tournament showcased 31 teams at Mt. Miguel High School while 22 varsity teams, plus 11 B-squads, competed in the South Bay Invitational at Otay Ranch High School.

Grossmont Conference wrestlers made a collective statement with six individual weight class champions and 10 finalists between the two tournaments.

Tough enough

Forman and 197-pounder J.R. Fischer have provided Steele Canyon with an experienced one-two punch on the mat this season and that was no different at the Mt. Miguel tournament. Forman captured first place at 182 pounds while Fischer placed second at 197 pounds.

The two Cougar wrestlers recently each dropped a weight class to their mutual benefit

Forman recorded four pins in as many matches to win his weight class at the Robert Jenkins tournament, including three in the first period. He improved to 22-6 on the season.

Fischer advanced to the finals on the strength of two pins, including one of just 10 seconds, and a 13-5 major decision in the semifinals. The Steele Canyon grappler came up just short in the championship round after dropping a 7-4 decision to Del Norte’s Michael Bulkin.

“I want to make it to the state tournament,” underscored Fischer, who improved to 30-5 on the season. “I want to make it to the finals of Masters. I want to place at state; I want to get there.”

Fischer said he feels dropping a weight class may help his chances of achieving his dream.

“I was a little light at 220 pounds,” he said.

Both Forman and Fischer expect to be tested at Saturday’s Division II championship tournament at San Ysidro High School. Joining the Cougars in the fray will be such powerhouse teams as Poway (ranked second in the state), La Costa Canyon, Rancho Bernardo, Vista, Westview and Mt. Carmel.

“All the kids who are ranked will be at the CIF,” Fischer noted.

Grossmont Hills League dual meet champion Helix led East County with a third-place team finish at the Mt. Miguel tournament, followed by the tourney-host Matadors in seventh place and Granite Hills in 11th place.

Individual champions included Mt. Miguel’s Manny Cano (115 pounds), Helix’s Trence Gillem (128 pounds) and Mozi Schwalger (172 pounds), and Granite Hills’ Victor Garcia (287 pounds).

Gillem produced some genuine star power with three pins and a 15-1 major decision in his four matches.

Grossmont’s Danny Villegas (140 pounds) and Helix’s Walter Todd (154 pounds) each scored second-place finishes while Granite Hills’ Kyle Tianey (197 pounds) placed third.

El Capitan’s Cameron Gritz (147 pounds) and Robert Kennedy (184 pounds) both won weight class titles at the South Bay Invitational while Valhalla’s Karl King (140 pounds) and Nico Gabriel (172) both placed second.

Gritz advanced to the championship round on the strength of three pins, including two first-period falls, and then edged Montgomery’s Andrew Jaffe by a 5-3 decision in the final.

Kennedy advanced to the championship round on the strength of two pins and then shut out Mater Dei Catholic’s Ivan Duran, 5-0, in the final.

King had three pins to advance to the championship round before being pinned with two seconds remaining in the third period by Otay Ranch’s Dylan Costello, who earned the tournament’s Outstanding Lower Weight award.

Valhalla placed fourth in the team standings while El Capitan was third.

Championship weekend

All four section divisional tournaments are scheduled Saturday, Feb. 21. Mission Hills High School will host the Division I tournament while Del Norte will host the Division III tournament and Holtville will host the Division IV tournament.

Wrestling is scheduled to start at 10 a.m., with finals starting at approximately 6 p.m.

Helix and Granite Hills will compete at the Division I tournament while Grossmont, Steele Canyon and Valhalla will compete at the Division II tournament. West Hills, El Cajon Valley, Monte Vista and El Capitan will compete at the Division III tournament while Mt. Miguel, Santana, Mountain Empire and Christian will compete at the Division IV tournament.

CIF duals

Five East County teams were selected to compete in the inaugural San Diego section divisional dual meet championship held Feb. 9-13. Eight teams in each of four divisions based on school enrollment competed, with an opening quarterfinal-round and combined semifinal and final rounds.

Helix (Division I), Monte Vista (Division III) and Mt. Miguel (Division IV) all won quarterfinal-round matches to advance to the semifinals.

Helix, seeded third, defeated sixth-seeded Granite Hills, 67-7, before dropping a 44-19 semifinal-round encounter to second-seeded San Marcos.

Monte Vista, seeded third, edged sixth-seeded Oceanside, 36-23, before dropping a 44-23 decision to second-seeded Ramona in the semifinals.

Second-seeded Mt. Miguel pinned seventh-seeded Mater Dei Catholic, 65-15 in the quarterfinals before dropping a narrow 42-36 decision to sixth-seeded Madison in the semifinals.

Grossmont received the No. 5 seed in Division II, dropping a 40-38 decision to fourth-seeded Vista.

San Marcos defeated top-seeded Rancho Buena Vista, 38-25, to win the inaugural Division I title while top-seeded Poway bettered third-seeded Rancho Bernardo, 58-9, to win the Division II championship. Top-seeded Brawley won the Division III title with a 55-21 win over Ramona while top-seeded Holtville won the Division IV title with a convincing 70-12 victory against Madison.

The section dual meet championship is not a new idea. The section initially held single-division dual championships in both 1991 and 1992. Valhalla won the inaugural championship while Poway won the second title before the event was discontinued.

CIF girls wrestling

The San Diego Section’s girls wrestling tournament took place Feb. 14 at Rancho Buena Vista High School. Steele Canyon placed second as a team.

Six East County mat women earned trips to this year’s state championship meet with top two finishes.

Steele Canyon clawed the competition by wining five weight class championships.

Overall, seven Grossmont Conference wrestlers earned medals by finishing in the top four in their weight classes. 

The first- and second-place finishers in each of 14 weight classes punched tickets to the state meet, scheduled Feb. 27-28 in Visalia.

Individual weight class champions included Steele Canyon’s Marissa Gutierrez (108 pounds), Angelena Petschek (118 pounds), Clarissa Gutierrez (123 pounds), Linh Cook (128 pounds) and Maria Valencia (145 pounds).

Monte Vista’s Terra Pemberton placed second at 191 pounds to round out the impressive contingent of East County state qualifiers.

Valhalla’s Kacey Rosenthal placed third at 118 pounds.

Marissa Gutierrez defeated Rancho Buena Vista’s Chelsea Pacheco by a 17-3 major decision in the finals while Petschek pinned RBV’s Iesha Washington in 2:22.

Clarissa Gutierrez pinned Westview’s Jaelin Rose Quinto in 57 seconds to win her weight class while Cook pinned Oceanside’s Yulissa Colon in 1:28. Valencia recorded an 11-6 decision over RBV’s Sadie Tackett to also become a CIF champion.

RBV won the team championship with 175 points, followed by Steele Canyon with 135 points in second place and Eastlake with 90 points in third place.

Girls’ wrestling continues to grow throughout the section and state levels. Last year’s San Diego CIF finals attracted approximately 90 girls. This year, 132 girls registered to compete. 

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