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Prep Wrestling Individuals: Sultans nab two titles
Sultana takes second; Victor Valley finishes third
OAK HILLS • Sultana’s Corey Griego won his third CIF-Southern Section Eastern Division Individual Championships title Saturday, but the state’s top-ranked 170-pounder has his mind on the bigger picture.
“It’s all right,” Griego said. “It’s all about state. Nothing else but state.”
Griego said he didn’t like the way he wrestled in the finals, but he recorded three pins, an injury default win and a decision in the championship match to earn the tournament’s upper-weight MVP honor.
His finals match was concerning to Sultans coach Rocky Humphrey. Griego tweaked a knee and came up limping after a single shot by opponent Max Kamashiro of Los Alamitos.
“I thought he wrestled well,” Humphrey said. “He did one thing that hopefully didn’t compromise the rest of his season. He turned the wrong way at the wrong time. It’s nothing the other kid did. He was taking advantage of flexibility.”
Griego said he’ll be OK.
While the High Desert had nine finalists Saturday, the only other champion also came from Sultana in senior Matthew Williams (182). He pinned his first three opponents and then scored a major decision in the finals against state-ranked Isiah Leyva of San Jacinto for his second straight Individual title.
“(It’s) big, especially senior year,” Williams said. “All or nothing. I mean, this is it, so it’s huge.”
Teammate Trent Smith (126) lost in overtime of his finals match, and the Sultans qualified five wrestlers to CIF-SS Masters Meet and edged Victor Valley for second place.
“Coming in we thought we were winning this thing,” Williams said. “That was where our mindset was. If we don’t we’re still going 100 percent. We’re still moving on to Masters.”
The Jackrabbits matched the Sultans with five qualifiers and also had seven placers.
Jonathan Oliveira (160) and Renan Cruz (220) reached their weight division finals and finished second. Victor Valley started the tournament with 11 wrestlers and all of them made the second day.
“We got third,” Oliveira said. “We did what we could do. Everybody wrestled their butts off. Everyone tried.”
Beaumont took first place with seven qualifiers and one champion.
It wasn’t quite a showdown for first place between Victor Valley and Sultana, who both won Individual team titles last season. The Jackrabbits were missing three wrestlers either due to ineligibility or injury. Their most notable absence was Michael Lopez (152), who had to sit out with a concussion.
“I feel like honestly, if we had all our guys, we would’ve won the tournament,” Oliveira said. “Everyone knows that and nobody can take that away from us.”
Meanwhile, Sultana didn’t have its heavyweight Robert Hartwell, who moved on Friday, and Anthony Mesa (145), who was sick. Christian Mesa (106) dislocated his elbow early Saturday and had to forfeit to sixth place.
Oak Hills had the third most qualifiers from the High Desert with four and finished seventh. Robbie Gajus (132) and Michael Santiago (120) were unseeded coming into the tournament, but reached their respective weight division finals and lost. Santiago upset second-seeded Randy Howe of Los Alamitos in the quarterfinals, and Gajus knocked off top-seeded Ryan Gonzalez of Sultana in the second round. He also came back from a 4-0 deficit with 30 seconds to go in his finals match to force overtime.
The Bulldogs’ Anthony Hernandez (195) lost in his finals match by pin.
“I’d say it was a good weekend,” Oak Hills coach Dave Stidham said. “We were down some guys. Santiago and Robbie got us going with their wins yesterday.”
Apple Valley has two qualifiers. Junior Gabriel Hawkins lost in the finals, and Nick Kang (195) upset Granite Hills’ Keaton Edwards in the quarterfinals and eventually finished fifth.
Hesperia’s Frank Francis (152) reached his weight division final, but lost by major decision. It’s his second time advancing.
Serrano was the only other High Desert school to advance a wrestler, as senior Josh Mendoza finished (220) third.
The CIF-SS Masters Meet will be held on Feb. 22-23 at Temecula Valley.
CIF-SS EASTERN DIVISION
At Oak Hills
1. Beaumont 1901⁄2; 2. Sultana 1721⁄2; 3. Victor Valley 1651⁄2; 4. Los Alamitos 1431⁄2; 5. Highland 129.
Other local teams
7. Oak Hills 119; T14. Apple Valley 68; 17. Serrano 59; 20. Hesperia 46; 23. Barstow 37; 24. Burroughs 33; 39. Silverado 13.
LOCAL CIF-SS MASTERS MEET
106 — 2. Hawkins (A)
120 — 2. Santiago (O); 3. Ruvalcaba (V).
126 — 2. Smith (Su).
132 — 2. Gajus (O); 3. Gonzalez (Su).
138 — 4. Velasquez (V).
152 — 2. Francis (H).
160 — 2. Oliveira (V).
170 — 1. Griego (Su); 3. Fifer (V).
182 — 1. Williams (Su).
195 — 2. Hernandez (O); 3. Bollinger (Su); 5. Kang (A).
220 — 2. Cruz (V); 3. Mendoza (Se).
HWT — 3. Gillham (O).
C.J. Daft can be reached at email@example.com or at (760) 951-6275.