Lancers defeat Channel Islands, Royal, Righetti, and Dos Pueblos in the finals. This is the school's third CIF Wrestling Championship - 2018, 2007 and 1998.
Dos Pueblos came out on the short end of a pair of one-point matches and dropped two others by three points, and those proved to be difference makers in a 33-21 loss against Bishop Amat in the championship of the CIF-Southern Section Wrestling Team Duals on Saturday at Sovine Gym.
It’s the second straight year the Chargers finished as CIF runners-up.
Bishop Amat, the tournament’s No. 4 seed, won its first CIF team title since 2007. The Lancers did it by knocking off top-seeded and defending champion Righetti in the semifinals before beating DP.
“We’ve been runner-up six times in duals, four times by one or two points,” Bishop Amat coach Thomas Pierre said. “We weren’t really expecting this because we were ranked fourth and we had a couple holes (in the lineup), but some how our bigger guys came through like our heavyweight, our 220 and our 195. I think they only lost one match between all of them. We got the matchups we needed which was not expected.
“Everything worked out perfectly”.
Dos Pueblos won the first two matches of the final. Sean Yamasaki jumped out to a 7-3 lead and held off Chuy Lopez for an 11-7 decision at 113 pounds. Kade Uyesaka followed with a pin against Nathaniel Navarro at 1:23 of the second period to give the Chargers a 9-0 lead.
Bishop Amat won the next five matches to take a 12-9 lead, including two decisions by one point.
Joseph Tessier won a 4-3 decision over Alonzo Cruz at 126 pounds. Cruz scored an escape point to pull within one but Tessier held him off to escape with the win and give the Lancers their first points.
At 132 pounds, Marcos Polanco built a 10-3 lead on DP’s Josh Coronado before pinning the Charger standout at 2:28 of the second period to even the score at 9-9.
The next bout was a turning point. Adrian Rios scored a two-point reversal just before the final buzzer to beat DP’s Aidan Yamasaki, 5-4, at 136 pound and vault Bishop Amat into the lead for good at 12-9.
“We lost a couple of close matches early in the dual and to win a championship you got to win the close matches,” DP coach Anthony Califano said. “We lost a couple of winnable close matches.”
Juan Lopez gave the Lancers a major decision (11-3) against Jason Miranda at 145 pounds for four points and a 16-9 advantage.
Dos Pueblos ended Bishop Amat’s run at 152 pounds, when sophomore Conner Lee recovered from a hard landing administered by Julian Mares in the first period and rallied from a 3-0 deficit to take the match 4-3 on a takedown with 1:07 left.
Lee was stunned after hitting the side of his head and shoulder on a throw by Mares. The match was stopped and DP trainer Wendy Whitehead checked Lee for a possible concussion. As he was being checked, the Bishop Amat coaches asked the officials to rule the match a forfeit in their favor while the DP’s coaches objected.
The officials talked to the trainer and ruled Lee was OK to continue wrestling. Trailing 3-0, he recorded a two-point takedown at the buzzer of the second period and took down Mares again in the final period for the win to make it a 16-12 team score.
“I felt fine,” said Lee. “I knew I could take him down on my feet and I just stuck to my bread and butter and I came through. I just had confidence I could take him down in the end. It was really a tough match for me but I just stuck with it.”
Alex Bello followed with an impressive 7-2 decision over Anthony Reyna at 160 pounds to pull the Chargers to within one point, 16-15.
DP’s Juan Tolis was in a tight battle with Richard Marrato at 170 pounds, trailing 3-2 in the final period. Mares scored a takedown with 8.9 seconds left to give him the win and boost the Lancers' lead to 19-15.
Will Yamasaki was up next at 182 pounds, but the senior ran into talented sophomore Guillermo Escobedo and lost by a major decision, 12-2. That result increased Bishop Amat's lead to 23-15 with four matches to go.
“He’s ranked third or fourth in the state,” said Pierre of Escobedo.
“The bonus points and winning the close matches put it out of stretch for us,” Califano said. “We’re pretty evenly matched with them, but they won the close matches.”
Bishop Amat’s Romeo Hernandez broke a 2-2 tie against DP’s Jackson Stetler with a three-point near fall in the second period and won 9-6 to give the Lancers a 26-15 advantage.
Bishop Amat clinched the championship when Vincent Garcia beat the Chargers’ Aidan Jones, 5-1, for an insurmountable 29-15 lead.
While it was frustrating to come up short for the second straight year, Califano said there were no regrets
“Our guys fought their butts off all day long. We took a couple of losses and a couple of guys picked up the slack and that happened in all three matches leading up to the finals,” he said. "The kids really fought their hearts out and left everything on the mat. We lost some close matches, we won some close matches. We did our best.
“I don’t have any regrets about our performance today. I think we did as well as could have and Bishop Amat was a little better.”
Dos Pueblos advanced to the championship in dramatic fashion. The Chargers were ahead 27-24 against Oxnard Pacifica going into the final bout of the semifinals.
The Chargers just needed a decision to clinch a berth in the final. Heavyweight Erick Nisich gave them a pin. He got his hands on the shoulders of his Pacifica opponent, threw him to the mat and recorded the pin in the 23 seconds for a 33-24 win.
“It was pretty relieving, actually,” he said of the dramatic victory. “I felt like a lot of stress got taken off my shoulders. I think everybody could breathe a little easier because we knew we were going to make another run at the CIF championship. That’s a great feeling.”
On the pinning his opponent, Nisich said: “I was going to go for a head throw but as it turned out I just overpowered him and I ended up throwing him down and getting the pin.”
Said Califano: “Erick, he wasn’t sure he was going to wrestle this year. He made a commitment to wrestle against Ventura (in the Channel League dual meet finale). Turns out we didn’t really need him because we won pretty big. And so, we said, ‘Well, here’s another shot in a CIF final. With you in the lineup, we got a good shot.’
“As it turned out, Erick’s win got us into the finals. It was a team effort, but that pin put it out of reach for them. That was incredible. We made the final two years in a row. It’s a big deal. These things are rare; it’s grueling, long-day battle.”
The Chargers earlier beat Lompoc (50-22) and Alemany (39-24)
Tolis also posted a key victory in the semifinals, scoring eight points in the final period to pull out a 10-4 victory
In the other semifinal match, Bishop Amat defeated defending champion Righetti 39-34 by winning the heavyweight bout.
“I’m really proud of them, they came to wrestle,” Pierre said of his team. “It was a team effort, it wasn’t just one or two guys that carried the team.”
Barry Punzal, Noozhawk Sports