‘Miracle’ win sends East County mat men to state wrestling tournament

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The 41st annual CIF state boys wrestling championships, scheduled Friday and Saturday at Rabobank Arena in Bakersfield will include a pair of Grossmont Conference standouts: West Hills senior John Lancaster and Mt. Miguel junior Miracle Tausaga.

Both Lancaster and Tausaga qualified to compete by placing among the top three place-finishers in their respective weight classes at last weekend’s San Diego Masters state qualifying tournament at Eastlake High School.

The 41st annual CIF state boys wrestling championships, scheduled Friday and Saturday at Rabobank Arena in Bakersfield will include a pair of Grossmont Conference standouts: West Hills senior John Lancaster and Mt. Miguel junior Miracle Tausaga.

Both Lancaster and Tausaga qualified to compete by placing among the top three place-finishers in their respective weight classes at last weekend’s San Diego Masters state qualifying tournament at Eastlake High School.

Tausaga won the 222-pound title while Lancaster finished third at 128 pounds.
A total of 42 wrestlers from the San Diego Section qualified to compete at this weekend’s state tournament, including 12 from Masters team champion Poway, four from team runner-up La Costa Canyon and three from third place Brawley.

Tausaga’s victory by an 8-3 decision against Holtville senior Jose Sandoval in the finals, which were broadcast live by Orange Nation TV, was a definite crowd pleaser. Tausaga became the first Masters champion from Mt. Miguel since Eric Stottlemeyer won the 183-pound class in 1988.
“God’s will is God’s will,” Tausaga said after recording the milestone victory.

The Matador standout, seeded fifth in the 24-man field after winning the Division IV title the previous week with four pins, finished 4-0 at the Masters tournament with a 13-3 major decision and pins of 5:37 and 3:53 besides his championship win.
He made a personal statement with his second-period pin of top-seeded Tim Chassen of Poway in the semifinals. Previously, Tausaga, who has only one loss this season, pinned third-seeded Nathan Busch of Mira Mesa in the quarterfinals.

Despite the aura associated with the Poway program, which has won 29 Masters team titles and placed seven wrestlers in this year’s finals, Mt. Miguel coach Vic Richmond said opponents need to erase any sense of intimidation from their minds.
“They’re just another wrestler — a wrestler with two legs, two arms and a head,” Richmond said. “You’ve got to go out there and prove you can win.”
Lancaster, who earned awards as the outstanding wrestler at the regular season ending Robert Jenkins Memorial tournament and Grossmont Conference championship tournament, proved he could win at the section’s toughest tournament after finishing 4-1 at Masters.
The West Hills mat man, the reigning Division III champion, opened the tournament with pins of 1:30 and 4:54 before suffering a 15-8 loss to Poway’s Gabe Faller in the semifinals.

Lancaster (29-3) then responded with a pair of tenacious victories to punch his ticket to the state meet. He captured an 11-10 decision over Morse freshman Memo Lopez in the consolation semifinals to advance to the third-place match.
Lancaster, seeded third, then snatched a thrilling 6-4 overtime win over Escondido’s Jonathan Bridges, the tournament’s No. 4 seed, to secure the bronze medal.
“There are two things I tell my wrestlers when going into big matches,” West Hills coach Mat Simone said. “The first is to keep doing the things that are working for them and the last thing is to have fun.”

This weekend’s state tournament starts at 9 a.m. on Friday and concludes with championship round matches Saturday at 7:15 p.m. The top eight place-winners received medals.
Mat attack
Tausaga’s older cousin, Josh Tausaga, narrowly missed qualifying for this weekend’s state meet after placing fourth in his 287-pound heavyweight division. Tausaga, seeded third, advanced to the semifinals with pins of 1:48 and 2:26 but dropped a tight 3-2 decision to second-seeded James Cannon of Escondido.

The Matador senior eliminated San Pasqual junior Derreck Cooper by a 2:50 pin in the consolation semifinals but fell short by a 9-5 decision to Holtville junior Lance Angulo in the decisive third place match.

Ironically, Tausaga had pinned Angulo at the Division IV finals the previous week.
 

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