As many as three local wrestlers from La Canada High and San Marino have the potential to advance to next week's season-ending CIF State Meet when Saturday's second day of the CIF Southern Section Wrestling Masters Meet gets underway at Temecula Valley High.
That possibility was made a reality as five area wrestlers headed to Temecula Valley on Friday morning and three managed to survive and advance, led by Titans freshman Evan Wick.
“This is such a grueling tournament and to be here, you have to be pretty good,” San Marino Co-Coach Joe Gallardo said. “So for Evan to be in that position just shows how hard he’s work.”
Wick opened the tournament Friday by taking an 8-0 first-round lead over Paso Robles’ senior Robby Standley, before applying a pin at 3:02.
That victory was followed by a tough 2-0 win against Magnolia senior Luis Ortiz, which vaulted Wick into Saturday’s championship round semifinal versus La Quinta junior Roy Galvan.
Regardless of how Wick finishes Saturday, he can place no worse than sixth and has already surpassed the ninth-place threshold needed to advance to Friday and Saturday’s CIF State Wrestling Championships at Bakersfield’s Rabobank Arena.
Wick is hoping to be one of two Titans to advance, as freshman teammate Julian Flores is heading to Saturday’s make-or-break session.
The 120-pounder is currently 1-1 and is in the consolation bracket, where he’s due to face Garden Grove Pacifica senior Steven Goltra in an elimination bout.
Flores needs to defeat Goltra and win one more match to qualify into the top nine.
“He had a heart-breaking loss in the quarterfinals that put him in this spot,” Gallardo said.
Flores opened with a bye and then topped Schurr junior Adam Duarte, 14-3. In the next round, though, Flores was defeated, 3-2, by Corona Centennial’s Gio Castillo, who had a takedown and then won the bout with an escape.
Perhaps the day’s most heroic effort came from La Cañada junior Guillermo Padilla, who survived to reach Saturday.
Padilla opened by registering a fall in 2:25 against Chaparral senior Matt McCullough, which then put the Rio Hondo League champion in the crosshairs of top-seeded Alejandro Ruelas of Westminster.
Facing Ruelas would have been difficult under normal circumstances, but according to Spartans Coach Gavin Williams, Padilla suffered a high ankle sprain and strained Achilles’ ligament on his right leg and foot versus McCullough.
“On his first match, the kid did a trip and that led to his injury,” Williams said. “He’s a tough kid and he was out there hobbling.”
An injured Padilla was no match for Ruelas, who pinned him in 44 seconds.
Yet, rather than bow out due to injury, Padilla continued to wrestle and fought his way to falls over Foothill sophomore Mario Galvez (2:32) and Righetti senior Dante Gamble (2:24) in the consolation bracket.
Like Flores, Padilla needs to win his opening bout, against Paramount senior Chris Borrayo, and then needs one more win.
“When he finished both matches, he was walking off on one leg. It was kind of sad for the guys who he beat,” Williams said. “He looks in pain afterward, but when he’s wrestling, he looks fine.”
The season did conclude for San Marino 126-pounder Zander Wick and 160-pounder Brian Chang.
Zander Wick began with a bye, but quickly lost in the second round to Santa Ana Calvary Chapel’s Peter Cunningham, 9-4.
Thrust into the consolation bracket, Wick pinned Etiwanda senior Julian Rubi in 2:45 before meeting his demise versus King’s Christian Vasquez in a fall at 4:26.
Chang, a four-year wrestler, fell in the first round in 1:46 to Corona Santiago’s Freddie Garcia before rebounding for a 7-6 win over Chino Hills’ Nathan Aragon.
Yet, Chang was eliminated in the consolation bracket’s next round by San Clemente’s Mike Marshall by a pin in 1:26.
“I’ve known Brian since he was wrestling in the seventh grade and it’s been an honor to have him on the team,” Gallardo said. “As for Zander, this is a good experience and something to learn from.”