Six East County mat squats tabbed for CIF dual wrestling meet finals

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Poway High School remains the San Diego Section’s wrestling beast with four state championship titles and six runner-up place-finishes to its credit. It’s a proud honor roll for Titan head coach Wayne Branstetter, who is in his 39th season coaching at Poway and 44th overall.

But what constitutes a state or, even, section championship? Bransetter noted there are about 300 schools annually represented at the state championship tournament, but that just one wrestler represents about 250 schools.

Poway High School remains the San Diego Section’s wrestling beast with four state championship titles and six runner-up place-finishes to its credit. It’s a proud honor roll for Titan head coach Wayne Branstetter, who is in his 39th season coaching at Poway and 44th overall.

But what constitutes a state or, even, section championship? Bransetter noted there are about 300 schools annually represented at the state championship tournament, but that just one wrestler represents about 250 schools.

To that end, the state has begun conducting section dual meet championships that involve full teams, not just one wrestler.

This is the second year for the current format. Branstetter hopes it eventually evolves to the state level where a true dual meet team champion can be crowned.

“With a one-and-a-half hour dual meet, you get the whole community out to watch,” he said. “It makes it exciting because fans get to cheer for the whole team, and all the wrestlers on the team participate.”

Fans will get a chance to cheer on their favorite team on Saturday, Feb. 13, when the section’s four divisional dual meet championships take place.

Mira Mesa High School will host the Division I and Division III tournaments while Rancho Bernardo High School will host the Division II and Division IV tournaments. 

The top eight-ranked teams in each division will compete. Teams will wrestle three rounds – quarterfinals, semifinals and championship finals. 

A third-place match will be held this year for the semifinal losers.

Helix is seeded third in the Division I tournament while Valhalla and Granite Hills are seeded sixth and seventh, respectively, in the Division II tournament. 

West Hills and Monte Vista are seeded fourth and fifth, respectively, in the Division III tournament. Mt. Miguel is seeded second in the Division IV tournament.

San Marcos is the defending Division I champion after defeating Rancho Buena Vista, 58-25, last year. 

Poway defeated Rancho Bernardo, 58-9, to win last year’s Division II dual meet championship while Brawley defeated Ramona, 55-21, to win the Division III dual meet title and Holtville squashed Madison, 70-12, to emerge as the Division IV dual meet champion.

San Marcos (Division I), Poway (Division II), Brawley (Division III) and Valley Center (Division IV) are this year’s top-seeded teams. 

Following the CIF divisional dual championships, the section’s divisional individual championships are slated Feb. 20. Otay Ranch High School will host the Division I tournament.  Other sites include Westview (Division II), Del Norte (Division III) and Madison (Division IV).

The San Diego Section Masters state qualifying tournament is scheduled Feb. 27-28 at Christian High School in El Cajon.

The top three wrestlers in each weight class at the Masters tournament qualify to compete in the state championship meet March 4-5 in Bakersfield.  

“It’s a numbers game,” Branstetter noted in regard to amassing enough qualifiers to the state meet to make a serious run at the state title under the current format. “The San Diego Section only gets three spots (per weight class). That makes it tough. One year, we qualified all 14 guys and took second. Last year, we scored 189.5 points, the most ever for us, had two state champions and nine medalists and still took second.”

Clovis, braced by 10 medalists and six finalists, set a state scoring record with 276.5 points as last year’s team champion.

Poway’s Ralphy Tovar (145) and Colt Doyle (160) each won individual state championships to close the 2014-15 season. Doyle finished as a two-time state champion while Tovar was a three-time state medalist.

Clovis finished with three individual state champions: Justin Mejia (113), Seth Nevills (220) and Hexton Coronado (285). Nevills was one of two freshmen to win state titles last year.

The San Diego Section had 13 state medalists overall in 2015 – the highest percentage of qualifiers to earn medals among the state’s 10 sections.

Holtville Invitational

Steele Canyon, Granite Hills, Valhalla and El Capitan were among the 27 teams that competed in last weekend’s two-day Holtville Invitational. Steele Canyon finished fifth in the team standings, followed by Granite Hills (eighth), Valhalla (11th) and El Capitan (22nd).

Steele Canyon came home with four place-winners: Anthony Lopez finished fourth in his 108-pound weight class, Dylan Nelson finished sixth in his 122-pound weight class, David Lipscomb finished sixth in his 147-pound weight class and Gerardo Jaime finished fourth in his 197-pound weight class.

Granite Hills finished with four place-winners: Leodis Castro finished fifth in his 154-pound weight class, Alex Love finished sixth in his 162-pound weight class, Connor Askins finished fourth in his 184-pound weight class and Victor Garcia finished second in his 287-pound weight class.

Additionally, El Capitan’s Cameron Gritz finished third at 147 pounds while Valhalla’s Gage Bulette finished fifth in the same weight class.

Rancho Bernardo won the team title, followed by San Marcos (second), Brawley (third) and Eastlake (fourth).

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