B Varsity

Saturday, Mar 08 2014 07:11 PM

Live blog: CIF State Wrestling Championships, state finals

By CALIFORNIAN STAFF REPORTS

106: Justin Mejia, Clovis, dec. Chris Lacayo, Santiago, 5-3
113: Matt Gamble, Monache, dec. Robert Garcia, Selma, 4-3
120: Israel Saavedra, Modesto, dec. Gionn Peralta, Vacaville, 5-4
126: Michael Knoblauch, Clovis West, dec. Mason Pengilly, Porterville, 8-6
132: Zahid Valencia, St. John Bosco, pins Wyatt Wyckoff, Paradise, 2:53
138: Emilio Saavedra, Modesto, dec. Mike Longo, Santiago, 5-4
145: Niko Villarreal, Gilroy, dec. Chris Garcia, Clovis West, 11-6
152: Paul Fox, Gilroy, dec. PJ Klee, Cardinal Newman, 3-1
160: Colt Doyle, Poway, dec. Kaleio Romero, Oakmont, 8-5
170: Anthony Valencia, St. John Bosco, maj. dec. Bryce Martin, Bakersfield, 14-4
182: Nick Fiegener, Folsom, dec. Corey Griego, Sultana, 5-2
195: Ian Baker, La Costa Canyon, dec. Ritchie Ybarra-Brandt, Liberty-Madera Ranchos, 7-5
220: Jeramy Sweany, Vacaville, dec. Gabriel Gonzalez, Washington Union, 2-1
HWT: Nick Nevills, Clovis, pins Nour Abdullatif, Eastvale-Roosevelt, 2:36

UPDATED, 11:07 p.m.: Sorry, I've obviously been running around on deadline here. I tried to update on Twitter as much as possible, but here's what I remember from each of the finals I missed on the blog (and there were a couple I didn't see much of, so bear with me):

152: Tight, hard-fought battle between PJ Klee of Cardinal Newman and Paul Fox of Gilroy. There were two keys: Fox rode out Klee for the entire second period, and then, after his escape for a 1-0 lead in the third, he got a controversial takedown to more or less seal victory with 10 seconds left. From my angle on the arena floor, it was difficult to tell if Fox had enough control of Klee to warrant a takedown, but Klee sure didn't think so, and he let the referee, his coaches and everyone in the crowd know it. He escaped and then couldn't take Fox down in the final seconds (which, by the way, he would have had to even if the takedown hadn't been called), and Fox was the winner. C'est la vie for Klee, I suppose, but it was a tough one to swallow for the two-time New Jersey state champion.

160: Speaking of tough to swallow, Oakmont's Kaleio Romero nearly had a dramatic cradle to win this match with nearfall or even a pin of Poway's Colt Doyle, but Doyle rolled through it and instead ended up with a reversal to seal an 8-5 win. It was a match full of long bouts of not much action interrupted by flurries from both guys, especially in a wild third period. Ultimately, a two-point nearfall early in the third period put Doyle in control.

170: Anthony Valencia is so good that he tries to find ways to entertain himself, and the crowd. He showed all of that in a 14-4 victory over Bryce Martin. There was early control, then some spectacular takedowns and then some more showy moves that almost got him in trouble. Every time it looked like Martin was going to end up with his own points, though, Valencia skipped away with his lightning quickness. In the end, I thought Martin wrestled him fair, but Valencia is in a class of his own right now.

182: Nick Fiegener of Folsom had wrestled Corey Griego three times already this year, and while it's extremely difficult to beat a good opponent multiple times (just ask Mason Pengilly or countless others), Fiegener knew that he was better on his feet than Griego. He proved it with two takedowns, one to take control early and one to seal the title late.

195: Didn't see hardly any of this match, a 7-5 victory for No. 1 Ian Baker of La Costa Canyon over Ritchie Brandt of Liberty-Madera Ranchos.

220: I didn't see much of this one either, but Jeramy Sweany of Vacaville was able to take a 2-0 lead through two periods and then hang on late for a 2-1 victory over previously unbeaten Gabriel Gonzalez of Washington Union. I'm not sure, but I think a stalling call might have been the difference. Several times in the match, Sweany drove into a double, but Gonzalez was able to backpedal, grab Sweany's waist and hoist him up to avoid the takedown. In the end, I think a deserved victory for Sweany in a good match.

HWT: What else can you say about Nick Nevills? Nour Abdullatif actually took a couple of good shots in the first period, and he didn't give up anything to Nevills until the second — when he gave everything up. Nevills got unbeaten Abdullatif in a headlock and flipped him viciously to his back, pinning him 36 seconds into the second period. Nevills then let out a roar (a couple of them, actually) worthy of a three-time state champion. His was one of the greatest prep wrestling careers in California history, and we should be honored to have seen it.

Before I go, here are final team scores. A fourth straight title for mighty Clovis, with perhaps more on the horizon: The Cougars only lose four seniors from this year's starting lineup, and their underclass and youth programs are forever stacked.

Team: 1. Clovis 197.5; 2. Clovis West 118.5; 3. Poway 110; 4. Gilroy 107; 5. Vacaville 90; 6. St. John Bosco 88; 7. Santiago 85.5; 8. Modesto 82.5; 9. Buchanan 79; 10. Bakersfield 75; 11. Folsom 64; 12. James Logan 56.5; t13. Sultana, Selma 51; 15. Calvary Chapel 46; 16. San Marino 44; 17. ML King 42; 18. La Costa Canyon 40.5; 19. Porterville 38.5; 20. Central 38.

UPDATED, 8:28 p.m.: It's Cardinal Newman's PJ Klee, a transfer from New Jersey, against Gilroy's Paul Fox at 152. I've got to head down for some interviews, though, so the blog will take a break here. I'll try to update my twitter feed, @zewing, with as many updates as possible from the arena floor.

UPDATED, 8:25 p.m.: Here's Gilroy's Niko Villarreal, unbeaten and a two-time defending state champion trying to become the 18th guy ever to win three. He has not, however, faced Clovis West's Chris Garcia yet. Takedown Garcia, and he nearly had the nearside cradle out of it. Villarreal rolls to his belly and now escapes. 2-1. Now Villarreal with the shot — and the takedown. Gilroy leads 3-2. Villarreal looked like he was in serious trouble a few seconds ago and now has the lead. Garcia escapes to tie it. They just announced that that was the first time Villarreal had been taken down all year. Makes sense that it might come in the state final. Now another shot for Garcia. He's got an ankle and is trying to finish. He's got some leverage here but can't get his head free. Stalemate called at 19 seconds. Still 3-3. Villarreal a good shot. Garcia wizzers — but Villarreal puts him to his back!! Short time, so only a two count there. Boy, if not for the clock, that could have been a pin right there. It's 7-3 Villarreal either way.
Garcia bottom for the second period, and Villarreal gives him the escape. It's 7-4. Another single-leg for Niko Villarreal. Garcia wizzers, and this time a stalemate is called. Still almost three minutes left in this match. Shot Garcia, but not a great one. Villarreal sprawls, and stalemate at 21 seconds in the second. Time expires, and it's still 7-4.
Villarreal down for the third. Remember, it was Villarreal who stunned Alex Cisneros in his bid to become a four-time champion here two years ago. Now his bid to be a three-timer looks pretty good. And here's an easy reversal for Villarreal. It's 9-4. Man, oh man. Escape Garcia for 9-5, but he's got a ton of work to do. Villarreal working on another takedown, and he's got it for 11-5. Clovis West, which has had a great tournament and will place second as a team, will settle for one state champion. Escape for Garcia, but it's still 11-6 with less than a minute to go. That's it. Niko Villarreal is the 18th three-time champion in California history.

UPDATED, 8:12 p.m.: At 138 pounds, it's Mike Longo of Santiago against Modesto's Emilio Saavedra. Longo is the state No. 1. Nice outside shot from Saavedra, but Longo wizzers him off, and we restart at 1:12, no points. Getting late in first period now without too much more action. First period ends, 0-0.
Longo down in the second. He's up and escapes for a 1-0 lead. Less than a minute in the period now. Ankle pick from Saavedra, switches to a double and gets the takedown. That was a beauty. Longo quickly escapes again to tie it, 2-2. Second ends that way.
Saavedra down for the third. If he can escape, he'll be two minutes away from joining his brother as a state champion. Gets up to a tripod, now to his feet. Longo hangs on and potentially dangerous is called. Again to his feet, same move from Longo to climb up and hold on, and another PD call. Now Saavedra is up cleanly and out. He leads 3-2 with 1:15 to go. Longo needs the takedown to give Santiago a state title. He dives after Saavedra as the Modesto wrestler steps away out of bounds. Now another Longo shot, and Saavedra around for a takedown. Nearly a reversal from Longo, but Saavedra skirts away for an escape. And the scoreboard and clock just went dead. Did someone trip a cord down there? It should be 5-3. There it is. 26 seconds left in the third. Longo could still tie it with a takedown. 15 seconds. Saavedra hit with a stalling call at the 5-second mark, but he's going to win this. He runs around the circle with 3 seconds still on the clock, another stall call for a point, but that's going to do it. Emilio Saavedra wins 5-4 and joins brother Israel as a state champion. Frankly, he could have been called for another stalling the way the he was running away there, but in the end he deserves the victory. It's a 5-4 final.

UPDATED, 8:01 p.m.: Zahid Valencia of St. John Bosco, the first of two national No. 1s wrestling tonight, is taking on Wyatt Wyckoff of Paradise in the 132-pound final. A surprise shot from Wyckoff, but he has no leverage and Valencia bear-hugs him out of it. Now Valencia with a front headlock. Now a restart, under a minute in the first. Valencia with a takedown now, outside shot, and he leads 2-0.
Second period, Wyckoff down. He's being ridden here, 30 seconds gone. Now Valencia turning him. Crowd oohs, because this looks promising. Ding ding ding. Pin comes at 2:53. Valencia a two-time state champion in dominating fashion.

UPDATED, 7:55 p.m.: Here's the final showdown between Mason Pengilly of Porterville, the defending 120-pound champion, and Clovis West's Michael Knoblauch, who snapped Pengilly's nearly 100-match winning streak to win last weekend's Central Section Masters. Knoblauch has an early shot here, and Pengilly is trying to stave him off. He's able to as they go out of bounds. Now a more wild shot from Knoblauch, sprawl Pengilly and he's looking for control. He has the head and a leg, crowd calls for two, and there it is. 2-0 Pengilly. But there's a reversal quickly for Knoblauch in the final seconds of the period, and we're tied after one, 2-2.
Knoblauch bottom for the second. Gets to his feet, Pengilly returns him. Knoblauch now sits out, and here's the Peterson! Reversal and back points coming. Pengilly back to a base, but it's a five-point move for Michael Knoblauch. Stunning development here — it's 7-2. Still time left in this match, a minute in the second period, but Pengilly with lots of work to do. He gets to one foot but now back down. Now he's to both feet, sits down and will try to reverse. Nope. Knoblauch answers that, too, and we restart at 26 seconds. Pengilly won't even get one here. Knoblauch in control at 7-2, though he does need some blood time.
Pengilly wants neutral in the third. He's got serious work to do. He does get a takedown about 30 seconds in, his second of the match. It's 7-4. But unless Pengilly feels he can get back points here, he's got to let Knoblauch go and continue to come back with takedowns. He's not going that route, though. Knoblauch to his feet off the restart, and Pengilly struggling to bring him back down. Knoblauch can't get away, but precious time ticked off there for Pengilly. Restart at 58. Pengilly tries a tilt, but Knoblauch follows him. Now a tilt that sticks! Back points coming, and it's going to be three to tie this match. No! Only two? That looked like a five-count to me, but the ref must be saying it wasn't five consecutive seconds. The referees will consult here. The crowd chanting a new one at a wrestling meet, 'THREE, THREE.' They want overtime. But they won't get their way here. Pengilly takes neutral at 16 seconds. It's 8-6. Knoblauch backs away out of bounds at 9 seconds. Stalling against Knoblauch. Pengilly shoots, but out of bounds at 2 seconds. Knoblauch backs away again, and he's won the state title. Crowd boos, and Knoblauch asks them for more. He's enjoying himself, and why not? He's a state champion after a controversial call of just two nearfall points for Mason Pengilly late. 8-6 the final.

UPDATED, 7:42 p.m.: At 120, we have a defending champion, Israel Saavedra of Modesto, against Vacaville's Gionn Peralta, who was second last year in a different weight class. Saavedra beat Peralta 2-1 two weeks ago in Sac-Joaquin Section divisionals. But here, it's Peralta with the quick throw by and shot for a takedown, just over midway through the first. He leads 2-0. We''re late in the first now, with Peralta riding well. He finishes the period with a 2-0 lead.
Peralta chooses bottom in the second. Saavedra is a beast on top, and he has him broken down quickly. Now Saavedra working on a potential lock-up. Peralta looks helpless down there at the moment, but he does have the lead. Here comes a stalling warning against Peralta at the 20-second mark. Now he gets to his feet and tries to work away, but the clock will run out before he does. Still 2-0 after two.
Saavedra bottom for the third, to his feet. He tries to get a headlock, but Peralta backs out and lets him have the escape instead. It's 2-1 Peralta. 1:30 to go. Saavedra shoots, but he lost his balance a bit, and Peralta ducks and goes around. He's ... in bounds, takedown. 4-1 lead now for Gionn Peralta, who has gradually improved his state place every year, from eighth as a freshman, to third, to second ... and is now a minute away from a championship. Saavedra has tons of work to do, but he does draw a second stalling call here on Peralta. That could loom large. It's 4-2 now. Crowd approved of the call. Now an escape for Saavedra, and he cuts the lead to 4-3. Still 40 seconds, lots of time. Saavedra trying some tie-ups up top, but nothing yet. Restart at 14 seconds. Crowd wants another stall. A shot for Saavedra ... can he get around? Yes! With 4 seconds left it's a takedown for Saavedra. Restart at 2 seconds. Peralta tries to get away and can't, and Israel Saavedra wins, with help of a stalling call and a very late takedown. He's a two-time champion as a sophomore. What a match.

UPDATED, 7:30 p.m.: Robert Garcia of Selma picks up a double-leg on Matt Gamble of Monache in the 113-pound state final, and there's a thud when he brings him down, but Gamble somehow scrambled out of that. Impressive defense from the Monache man. Now a front headlock, both guys trying a turn, and Gamble wisely just goes around back and gets the takedown. He leads 2-0. Garcia escapes and it's 2-1. That's how the first period will end.
Gamble chooses bottom in the second and escapes quickly. It's 3-1. Now Garcia in on a single-leg. Good scramble from Gamble, but Garcia finishes, and we're tied. He flashed Gamble briefly to his back with a tilt, but Gamble sat up with just a one count. No back points there. Stays 3-3 with a restart. Good action there. Gamble escapes off the restart for a 4-3 lead. Things slow down for a minute, now Garcia in on a late shot. Trying to finish but he's going to run out of time. 4-3 Gamble after two.
Garcia is down for the third. Caution on Gamble. Now a good start. Garcia to his feet, Gamble holding on but not returning Garcia. Stalling called on Gamble. That could be a big call as we go on here. 1:20 left as Gamble returns Garcia to the mat. Can he ride him out 75 more seconds without stalling. Could be tough. He gets the legs in, but a stalemate called. Gamble appeared frustrated with that stoppage, and there are boos from the crowd, too. Garcia up to a tripod off the restart. Gamble holding on, potentially dangerous called. Restart at 45. Things getting serious for Garcia now. Almost away, but Gamble has a leg. He gets Garcia back down quickly, so no stalling. 33 seconds now. Now a caution on Garcia for a false start. Garcia has 30 seconds to get out. He sits out, now to his feet and rolls, but Gamble goes with him. Follows him out of bounds. Restart at 13. Perhaps the last chance for Garcia. To his feet, immediately brought back down. To his feet again, back down. That's gonna do it. Matt Gamble wins it, 4-3 over Garcia. He rode him the entire third period for that victory.

UPDATED, 7:19 p.m.: Justin Mejia of Clovis working on a takedown near the edge of the circle against Santiago's Chris Lacayo in the 106-pound state final. Big cheer erupts from the crowd as he finally corrals both ankles and gets his two points. He'll ride out the rest of the 40 seconds in the period to lead 2-0 after one.
Lacayo down for the second. He escapes in less than 10 seconds to cut the lead to 2-1. He shoots, and Mejia with an incredible re-shot, a high crotch that he finishes for a 4-1 lead. Mejia has been very businesslike in this tournament, and it's no different under the spotlight here. Now he's broken down Lacayo again. The Santiago wrestler needs to make a move here if he's going to stay in this match. Cross-face from Mejia as he continues to work on a lock. Stalemate called at 19 seconds. That at least gives Lacayo a chance to get back up to a base. Now he gets to a tripod off the restart — but now Mejia breaks him back down. Time will run out with Mejia still ahead 4-1.
Mejia chooses neutral. He's two minutes away from a state title. Thirty seconds in, a good shot from Lacayo, but Mejia able to lock him up around the waist. That forces a stalemate at 1:18. Now Mejia shoots. Both guys have a wizzer. Maybe one of them had an arm around the neck, actually, as potentially dangerous is called. Lacayo is running out of time. He tries a front headlock and works his way around ... and brings Mejia down. There's a takedown, and it's 4-3. Only 15 seconds, though. He lets Mejia go, but he might have waited too long to do that. 5 seconds ... time ticks away, and Clovis freshman Justin Mejia is your champion, a 5-3 winner here in the 106-pound final.

ORIGINAL POST: The state finals here at the CIF State Wrestilng Championships are about half an hour away. They're doing some introductions and awards, the most significant of which — to me, anyway — was the Most Inspirational Wrestler award presented to Newbury Park senior Manny Garay, who didn't win a match this year but wrestled them all with more heart than you or I could probably muster. Garay has spina bifida, a spinal disorder that doesn't allow him regular use of his legs. So congrats to you, Manny. We're all in awe.

The state finals are coming up! Stay tuned.

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