East County mat men mine five gold medals at CIF divisional finals

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East County will be well represented on the mat at this weekend’s San Diego Masters state-qualifying tournament at Olympian High School following last weekend’s showing at the section divisional tournaments.

Wrestlers from 11 East County schools earned the right to compete at this weekend’s showcase section tournament based on place-finish at last weekend’s divisional tournaments.

East County will be well represented on the mat at this weekend’s San Diego Masters state-qualifying tournament at Olympian High School following last weekend’s showing at the section divisional tournaments.

Wrestlers from 11 East County schools earned the right to compete at this weekend’s showcase section tournament based on place-finish at last weekend’s divisional tournaments.

Each weight class at the Masters tournament will feature 24 qualifiers from the four divisional tournaments. The top four individual place-finishers in each weight class at Masters advance to the state championship tournament March 2-3 in Bakersfield.

A total of nine East County mat men reached the finals at last weekend’s divisionals; five won individual weight class championships.

•Helix’s Joshua Kopmeyer recorded a first-place finish in his 162-pound weight class at the Division I finals at Canyon Crest Academy.

•Steele Canyon’s David Lipscomb won the 172-pound championship at the Division II finals at Poway High School.

•West Hills’ Lucas Ahkey captured the heavyweight division at the Division III finals at Montgomery High School.

•Mount Miguel’s Craig Smith (162 pounds) and Edward Jones (222 pounds) each won individual weight class championships at the Division IV finals at Mater Dei Catholic High School.

The top seven place-finishers in each weight class at the Division I and Division II finals, plus the six place-winners at the Division III finals and the top four place-finishers in the Division IV finals, qualified to compete at this weekend’s Masters event.

Grossmont Hills League tri-champion Steele Canyon posted a third-place finish at the Division II finals while fellow Grossmont Hills League tri-champion West Hills finished fourth at the Division III finals.

Big men on campus

Ahkey, seeded second in his weight class, elicited a roar from the fans at the Division III tournament by winning the 287-pound division. He finished the day with three pins in as many matches, including a 1:49 fall against top-seeded Jeffrey Castro of Central Union in the finals.

Ahkey (30-4) was among seven East County state meet qualifiers last year after recording a meteoric fourth-place finish at the 2017 Masters.

He said he used last year’s trip to the state meet as motivation this season.

“It was a surprise,” Ahkey admitted of last year’s Masters finish. “I didn’t know that I’d make it all the way to state. It was over the top. This year I’ve worked on improving my endurance.”

The Wolf Pack heavyweight didn’t have to wrestle long on the mat last weekend after recording one first-period pin and two second-period pins.

Helix’s Kopmeyer, seeded first, defeated Olympian’s Tyshawn Anderson, 3-2, in the championship round at the Division I finals to finish the day 4-0 with three pins.

Steele Canyon’s Lipscomb, a returning state meet qualifier, went 3-0 with two pins to win his weight class at the Division II finals. He recorded an 11-9 decision over Poway’s Jacob Mendoza in the finals.

Mount Miguel’s Smith, top-seeded in his weight class, finished the day 3-0 with two pins to capture the individual CIF title at the Division IV finals. He pinned Mater Dei Catholic’s Christian Silva in 3:04 in the championship match.

Matador teammate Jones, seeded second, recorded three pins in as many trips to the mat to win his weight class. He pinned top-seeded Holtville’s Ernesto Vitela in 3:13 to claim the gold medal.

Silver linings

Four East County mat men finished with second-place individual finishes: Steele Canyon’s Darian Murphy and Granite Hills’ Leodis Castro at the Division II finals, West Hills’ Justin Zingale at the Division III finals and Mount Miguel’s Ernesto Moncivais at the Division IV finals. 

Zingale, one of two West Hills wrestlers to advance to the championship round at the Division III finals, placed second to Brawley’s Preston Brewer in the 115-pound weight class by a 12-4 major decision.

Zingale, the No. 1 seed in the weight class, advanced to the finals on the strength of a 20-1 technical fall (quarterfinals) and 1:33 pin (semifinals) to meet Brewer, the No. 3 seed, in the championship match after the Brawley grappler had upset second-seeded Julian Winnie of Mar Vista by a third-period pin in the semifinals.

Zingale started the championship match strong but could not keep pace with Brewer (17-2), who placed his stamp on the weight class with a 4-0 showing that included three pins and the major decision over Zingale.

Murphy, one of two Steele Canyon finalists in a strong Division II field, finished second in his 122-pound weight class while Granite Hills’ Castro finished runner-up at 162 pounds.

Both lost to Poway grapplers in the finals. 

Murphy, seeded second, dropped an 8-2 decision to top-seeded Jacob Allan; Castro, also seeded second in his weight division, lost by a 12-1 major decision to top-seeded Calvin Naraghi. 

Moncivais, top-seeded in his weight class, lost by a 5-3 decision to Holtville’s Ethan Strahm in the championship round at the Division IV finals. 

West Hills finished the 19-team Division III tournament with a robust 11 Masters qualifiers. Besides Ahkey and Zingale, other top finishers for the Wolf Pack included Domonic Lobaugh (third, 140 pounds), Ed Marquis (fourth, 197 pounds), Jake Maheu (fifth, 172 pounds), Gregory Roberts (fifth, 184 pounds) and Saul Sanchez (fifth, 222 pounds).

Ethan Yeager (122), Ever Dearborn (128), Norman Stone (147) and Dvir Mona (154) all finished sixth.

“We brought 13 and 11 are going to Masters — not too shabby,” West Hills coach Mike Proctor said. “We have a young team — we only have three seniors this year. I couldn’t be more proud of my team. They exceeded all my expectations.”

West Hills finished 5-1 in Grossmont Hills League regular season duals to match records by both Steele Canyon and Granite Hills. The Wolf Pack dropped its first dual to Steele Canyon but won the remainder of its league matches while Granite Hills defeated Steele Canyon in the final league match to produce a three-way tie for first place between the teams.

Ahkey and Zingale were among four Wolf Pack wrestlers to finish undefeated in league matches, joining Maheu and Roberts.

Steele Canyon finished with seven Masters qualifiers at the Division II meet while Granite Hills, which placed 10th in the team standings, had six Masters qualifiers.

Grossmont, with four Masters qualifiers, finished ninth in the Division II team standings — two points ahead of Granite Hills.

Bronze medalists at the Division II tournament included Steele’s Ezra Cardenas (134) and Grossmont’s Nicholas Ghosen (184). 

Three more East County mat men picked up bronze medals: Helix’s Oscar Sanchez (140) at the Division I finals, El Capitan’s Cameron Horton (162) at the Division III finals and Mount Miguel’s Raul Garcia (115) at the Division IV finals.

Mount Miguel, which finished fifth in the team standings, had five Masters qualifiers.

Javian Briggs (122) and Blake Jarell (197) led Mountain Empire with third-place individual finishes at the Division IV finals. The Red Hawks finished 11th in the team standings.

Hear them roar

Grossmont Valley League champion Monte Vista finished 11th in the team standings at the Division III tournament.  

Blake Schmidt led the Monarchs with a third-place finish at 287 pounds while Jahnick De La Cruz (115) and Christian Avila (140) both placed fifth in their weight classes.

Prior to last weekend’s individual tournament, Monte Vista participated in the Division III dual meet championships Feb. 10 at Rancho Bernardo High School. The Monarchs placed third following a victory against South Bay League champion Mar Vista in the consolation match.

University City defeated Monte Vista in the semifinals in the four-team divisional dual meet. Brawley, which would go on to win the team title at last weekend’s individual divisional tournament, defeated University City, 67-12, in the championship round.

The Monarchs defeated Grossmont, Santana, El Capitan and El Cajon Valley for the Grossmont Valley League dual championship.

“We had a young team that performed very well during the dual meet season,” Monte Vista coach Mat Simone said. “Our guys were very opportunistic and made the best of their opportunities. Everything went our way.”

Mat attack

Division II team champion Poway advanced all 14 of its wrestlers to this weekend’s Masters tournament, including 10 weight class champions.

San Marcos edged Mesa League champion Olympian by 10.5 points to win the Division I team title while Brawley won double CIF gold by capturing the Division III individual tournament championship. Valley Center won last weekend’s Division IV title.

Brawley has 13 qualifiers headed to Masters, including six Division III individual champions.

Wrestling is slated to start Friday at 10 a.m. and Saturday at 9:30 a.m. at this weekend’s Masters. Finals are scheduled Saturday at 4 p.m.

Olympian High School is located at 1925 Magdalena Ave., Chula Vista.

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