East County mat men load up for Masters state-qualifying tournament

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East County high school wrestling programs made a significant impact at this year’s San Diego Section divisional championship tournaments with a staggering 62 qualifiers (including alternates) for this weekend’s San Diego Masters state qualifying tournament.

East County high school wrestling programs made a significant impact at this year’s San Diego Section divisional championship tournaments with a staggering 62 qualifiers (including alternates) for this weekend’s San Diego Masters state qualifying tournament.

 Mount Miguel’s Juan Ruiz and Christian’s David Moreno, who both competed at the Division IV tournament at Mater Dei Catholic High School, along with Steele Canyon’s Jaime Gerardo at the Division II tournament at Del Norte High School, were the lone individual champions out of 13 East County finalists at this year’s four divisional tournaments.Otherwise, it was a respectable medal haul.

A returning state meet qualifier, top-seeded Ruiz (31-2) won all four of his matches by first-period pins. No opponent was able to last two minutes on the mat with him.

Ruiz pinned Imperial’s Adam Guizar, seeded second, in 1:22 in the championship round.

Matador head coach Vic Richmond called Ruiz, who placed third at last year’s Masters tournament and went 2-2 at the ensuing state meet, “focused and determined.”

Moreno, making major strides for the still fledgling Patriots mat program, also completed a four-pin day. 

He pinned Imperial’s top-seeded Marcus Monzon in 3:17 in the championship round to improve to 24-4 on the season. Included in his championship odyssey was a 24-second pin in the semifinals.

Four East County teams participated at the Division IV tournament. Mount Miguel topped the contingent with a fourth-place finish with 166 points, followed by Santana in ninth place with 74 points, Christian in 13th place with 43 points and Mountain Empire in 15th place with 35 points.

Valley Center won its eighth Division IV team championship by out-scoring runner-up Holtville 223-193.5 points.

The Matadors, who finished fourth a week earlier in the San Diego Section Division IV dual meet championships, left the Mater Dei Catholic gym with eight medalists, including three finalists.

Raul Garcia (18-7) finished second in his 108-pound weight class following a 12-3 loss by major decision to Valley Center’s Tommy Lavigne (24-8) while Tyler Williams dropped a hotly contested 7-6 overtime decision to Army-Navy Academy’s Jonathan Zhang (31-2).

Mount Miguel’s other place-finishers included Ernesto Moncivais (third, 122), Alexander Lemon (third, 287), Keven Monroy (fourth, 115), Craig Smith (fourth, 154) and Edward Jones (sixth, 162). 

Santana’s five place-winners included Alec Martinez (third, 108), Danny Middaugh (third, 140), Wyatt Miller (sixth, 122), Bryce Chung (sixth, 134) and Sergio Calvillo (sixth, 147).

Mountain Empire’s two medalists include Javian Briggs (fourth, 122) and Blake Jarrell (fourth, 184).

The top four place-finishers qualified to compete at this weekend’s Masters state-qualifying tournament at Olympian High School. Fifth-place finishers at the Division IV finals qualified as alternates.

The Matadors advanced six wrestlers to the semifinals.

Richmond seemed somewhat disappointed, though he admitted he still has a young team. “We only have two seniors,” he said.

Of note, Imperial’s Nick Hart (128) became a rare four-time Division IV section champion when he pinned Mater Dei Catholic’s Karl Moreno in 2:38. Hart’s younger brother, Nathan, won the 140-pound title to make it a family affair.

Division II

Five Grossmont teams participated at the Division II tournament at Del Norte High School. Steele Canyon paced the East County field with a third-place team finish with 142 points, followed by Granite Hills in fourth place with 122 points, Valhalla in sixth place with 104.5 points and Grossmont in eighth place with 73.5 points.

Poway (358.5 points) and Rancho Bernardo (299.5 points) proved to be the class of the division, however.

Steele Canyon’s David Lipscomb (162 pounds), Valhalla’s Isaiah Hawkins (197 pounds) and Granite Hills’ Garrett Curran (287 pounds) all recorded runner-up finishes in their respective weight classes.

Lipscomb dropped a 15-0 championship-round decision by technical fall to Poway’s Hampton Boyd while Hawkins lost by a 4:19 pin to Rancho Bernardo’s Chasen Blair and Curran lost by a 2:52 pin to Poway’s Nick Klekas.

Lipscomb, Hawkins and Curran each recorded two pins in the tournament.

There were seven third-place finishers representing East County teams: Steele Canyon’s Tharen Burns (108), Anthony Lopez (115) and Darian Murphy (122); Valhalla’s Scepter Ganasi (128), Mick Muralt (140) and Gage Bulette (147); and Granite Hills’ Alexander Love (154).

Genasi, Muralt and Love all won their third-place matches by a pin while Murphy won by a 17-2 technical fall.

The top seven place-finishers in the division qualified to compete in this weekend’s Masters event. 

Fourth-place finishers included Steele Canyon’s Xavier Silva (154), Grossmont’s Nick Ghosn (197) and Granite Hills’ Damian Hidalgo (222).

Fifth-place finishers included Granite Hills’ Gabriel Perez (122), Cameron Barnes (140), Leo Castro (162) and Connor Askins (184); and Valhalla’s Alan Perez (222)

Sixth-place finishers included Grossmont’s Danny Dominguez (115), Sebastian Coates (128), Alex Fernandez (134) and Benjamin Slater (222).

Seventh-place finishers included Grossmont’s Gilbert Dominguez (122); Granite Hills’ Bailey Christian (128); and Steele Canyon’s Tremaike Sorge (184) and Richard Dvorchak (287).

Eighth-place finishers (Masters alternates) included Steele Canyon’s Ezra Cardenas (134) and Nicholas Petschek (140); and Valhalla’s Manny Aramburo (154).

Division I

Helix Charter participated in the Division I tournament at Otay Ranch High School, placing eighth with 94.5 points. Rancho Buena Vista (199 points), San Marcos (181 points) and Vista (179.5 points) easily out-pointed the field of 18 teams.

Top place-finishers for Helix included Marcus Tucker (108), Armando Lopez (197) and Andrew Poumele (287) — all with second-place medals.

Top-seeded Tucker dropped a 5-4 championship-round decision to Mira Mesa’s Jasvinder Singh while Lopez dropped a 7-5 decision to Vista’s James Amador and Poumele lost by a 4-1 decision to Carlsbad’s Luis Torres.

Tucker recorded three pins, including a 30-second pin in the opening round. 

Other place-finishers for the Highlanders included Joshua Kopmeyer (third, 162), Stephen Honda (seventh, 140) and Nabeel Daoud (eighth, 184).

The top seven place-finishers advanced to this weekend’s Masters tournament. Eighth-place finishers are alternates.

Division III

Four Grossmont Conference teams participated in the Division III tournament at Brawley High School. Monte Vista (76 points) and West Hills (73 points) led the group with eighth and ninth place-finishes, respectively, while El Capitan (67 points) finished 12th and El Cajon Valley (11 points) finished 19th.

A pair of East County mat men captured runner-up individual place-finishes: West Hills’ Nicholas Rivinius (172) and Monte Vista’s Blake Schmidt (222).

Rivinius dropped a 3-1 championship-round decision to Brawley’s Damien Gomez while Schmidt lost by a 5:26 pin to Central Union’s Evan Sharpe.

Rivinius recorded two pins, including a 30-second pin in the quarterfinals, while Schmidt also had two pins in the tournament.

There were four third-place finishers among the Grossmont Conference contingent: El Capitan’s Cameron Horton (162) and David Hoskisson (172); and Monte Vista’s Richard San Nicolas (184) and Jose Gonzalez (197).

The top six place-finishers in the division qualified to compete at this weekend’s Maters tournament.

Fourth-place finishers included West Hills’ Norman Stone (134) and Monte Vista’s Patrick Garcia (172).

Fifth-place finishers included El Capitan’s Cameron Myers (108) and West Hills’ Ethan Yeager (115).

Sixth-place finishers included West Hills’ Gregory Roberts (162) and Lucas Ahkey (287).

Seventh-place finishers (Masters alternates) included El Capitan’s Elio Duarte (115) and El Cajon Valley’s Yama Safiullah (162).

Eighth-place finishers included Monte Vista’s Jahnick De la Cruz (115) and El Capitan’s Daniel Reed (197).

Road to state

The opening day at Masters on Friday, Feb. 24, begins at 10 a.m. and concludes at 6:30 p.m.

Wrestling resumes at 9:30 a.m. on Saturday, Feb. 25. Semifinals are scheduled to start at 10:45 a.m. Consolation semifinals are scheduled at 12:15 p.m. Finals (first- and third-place matches) are scheduled to start at 4 p.m. Awards presentations are scheduled to start at 6:30 p.m.

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