ECV’s Shlemoon among three East County CIF wrestling champions

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Chatter has filled Internet discussion boards all during the 2013-14 season as to the identity of the best high school wrestler among San Diego Section schools. El Cajon Valley senior Leon Shlemoon’s name has to be near the top, certainly after scoring an epic double-overtime victory to capture the 145-pound championship at last Saturday’s Division III finals at Olympian High School.

Chatter has filled Internet discussion boards all during the 2013-14 season as to the identity of the best high school wrestler among San Diego Section schools. El Cajon Valley senior Leon Shlemoon’s name has to be near the top, certainly after scoring an epic double-overtime victory to capture the 145-pound championship at last Saturday’s Division III finals at Olympian High School.

Shlemoon scored an escape in the second OT period in his match-up against Mar Vista freshman Aaron Olmos to prevail by an 9-8 score and advance his cause for a top seed in the weight class for this weekend’s San Diego Masters state qualifying tournament at Mission Hills High School.

Shlemoon enters the section’s crown jewel tournament with a 39-5 record.

ECVHS coach Jim Castle called the match between Shlemoon and Vegas the “highlight” of the Division III tournament.

“The Mar Vista wrestler had beaten Leon on a last-second takedown at the Mt. Miguel tournament (prior to the end of the regular season) and this rematch was to likely decide the No. 1 and No. 2 seed at the Masters,” the ECV coach noted.

The division final lived up to its billing.

Olmos, a freshman with a lot of high-level youth wrestling behind him, took an early 2-0 lead on a takedown but then Shlemoon came storming back to lead 3-2 on an escape and a takedown.

Olmos tied the match on an escape, but Shlemoon again went up on another takedown to lead 5-3. Another escape by Olmos trimmed Shlemoon’s lead to 5-4 at the end of the second period.

It turned out the marathon match was just getting started.

Olmos conceded an escape to the Braves senior to start the third period but recorded a clutch takedown with 1:20 left on the clock to tie the score at 6-6.

The crafty MVHS grappler conceded another escape to give Shlemoon a 7-6 lead but once again recorded a takedown—this time with 12 seconds remaining in regulation—to go in front 8-7.

At this point, the crowd was cheering for the super frosh. 

But, as the pair rolled out of bounds with three seconds left, the mat officials awarded Shlemoon an escape point to send the match into overtime tied at 8-8.

The fans’ jeers quickly turned to cheers, however, when Shlemoon, after scoring the only escape point in the second overtime tiebreaker, successfully rode out his opponent to claim the dramatic OT victory.

The ECV grappler raised his arms in triumph to acknowledge the fans’ ovation.

The top three place-finishers in each of 14 weight classes at Masters advance to the state championships March 7-8 in Bakersfield. Expect both Shelmoon and Olmos to be vying for one of those coveted berths.

“So far, I’m happy with the way he’s been wrestling, but he’s been a little streaky this year,” Castle said of Shlemoon, who pinned his way to the division title match with three consecutive falls. “But he’s a solid kid and has had a solid season.”

El Cajon Valley finished in a tie for fourth among the 20 teams competing at this year’s Division III finals — out-distancing fellow Grossmont Conference teams Monte Vista (seventh) and El Capitan (ninth).

Shlemoon was the only East County wrestler to qualify for the Division III championship round, though ECV’s Pietro Anderson secured a third-place individual place-finish at 195 pounds and El Capitan’s Kevin Hoyt finished third at 220 pounds.

The top six finishers in each weight class at the Division III finals advanced to compete at this weekend’s Masters.

Recording noteworthy fourth-place finishes were Monte Vista’s Elija Pratt (106), ECV’s Jake Alcaraz (120), Monte Vista’s Alex Garcia (126), El Capitan’s Cameron Gritz (138), ECV’s Gabriel Urreola (152) and Hussein Hussein (182 pounds) and Monte Vista’s Brandon Rosete (220 pounds).

“I’m happy for the kids who made the Masters,” Castle said. “They put in a lot of hard work throughout the season, and they have more hard work to put in before Friday.”

Parade of champions

ECV’s Shlemoon was among three Grossmont Conference individual CIF champions at last weekend’s divisional tournaments. Mt. Miguel, which finished third at the Division IV finals, had two weight class champions: Fidel Vega (152) and Miracle Tausaga (220).

Tausaga, who improved to 33-3 after pinning Holtville’s Esteban Llanes in the finals in 4:35, ranks among the section’s contenders vying for a state medal. 

Second-place championship-round finishers included Granite Hills’ Francisco Saavedra (220) at the Division I finals at Escondido High School; West Hills’ Mavrick Mooneyham (113) and Steele Canyon’s Colin Forman (182) at the Division II finals at Westview High School; and Mt. Miguel’s Nathan Ontiveros (136) and Shaquell Singletary (145), along with Mountain Empire’s Troy Clark (195), at the Division IV finals at Mt. Miguel High School.

Granite Hills placed fifth among teams at the Division I finals while Steele Canyon was sixth and Helix was eighth at the Division II finals and Santana was 10th at the Division IV finals.

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