SOUTH PASADENA — With wrestling powers such as Mayfair High, Bishop Amat and Crespi taking part in Friday's fourth annual South Pasadena Holiday Invitational, the local prospects didn't seem that solid.
Yet, San Marino and host South Pasadena highs qualified six individual wrestlers to championship bouts and walked away with two individual crowns.
“I just wasn’t in the mood to make mistakes, so I played it safe,” said Maese, who was leading, 7-3, prior to the pin. “I got a simple half [Nelson], drove him over and took him to his back.”
Maese’s bout was the last of three consecutive matches that featured Titans finalists, beginning with a 10-5 victory from San Marino senior Brian Chang over Crespi’s Alex Marin in the 171-pound final.
In that bout, Chang went up, 4-2, after one round after collecting consecutive takedowns that were halved due to subsequent escapes from Marin.
Chang then led, 7-4, after two rounds before icing the match with an escape followed by a takedown in going up, 10-4.
“This feels great because this is where all the hard work you put in over the last few months comes back and shows,” said Chang, who surrendered the last point on a locking-hands violation.
The only setback of the three consecutive bouts came at 182 pounds, where Bishop Amat’s Josh Ebiner defeated San Marino’s Michael Scott, 10-1.
South Pasadena junior James Yun had the first crack at a title in the 106-pound final before falling to San Dimas’ David Gonzales, 5-0.
Yun reached the championship via a pin, technical fall and major decision, and was scoreless heading into the third round.
That changed quickly, however, as Gonzales delivered a takedown followed by a near fall in going up, 5-0, and never looking back.
“I could have beat him, but he was better at being on top,” Yun said. “If I could have escaped, I could have kept the match closer.”
Yun’s teammate, Charlie Barrone, also suffered a tough defeat as he was pinned in the final second of the first round of the 132-pound finale versus Mayfair’s Chris Bartholomew.
The final local championship bout included San Marino freshman Aaron Padilla, who was pinned at 3:58 in the 126-pound title round by Mayfair’s Michael Craig.
“I got caught getting sloppy and he capitalized on the mistakes,” said Padilla, who trailed, 7-4, before being pinned. “Most of the guys here have more strength than I do, but the coaches taught me well and I was able to make it this far.”
As for team standings, Mayfair was champion with 170 points, while Bishop Amat took second with 130 points, San Marino claimed bronze with 108 points and South Pasadena was eighth with 50 points.
In other lower-weight championship bouts, Mayfair’s Ricky Cerda defeated Crespi’s Joshua Romero, 5-4, at 113 pounds; Mayfair’s Marco Rodriguez defeated Rio Mesa’s Chris Santos, 12-2, at 120 pounds; Bishop Amat’s Billy Carmouche pinned Rio Mesa’s David Anaya in 3:05 at 138 pounds and Crespi’s Anthony Igne topped Mayfair’s Josh Aguilar, 10-6, at 145 pounds.
As for the rest of upper-weight title contests, Palisades’ Brad Boorstin bounced Camarillo’s Rory MacNeill, 16-4, at 152 pounds; Crespi’s Blayne Briceno secured a technical fall over Mayfair Micah Evenculla, 28-13, at 160 pounds; Palisades’ Holland Herzfeld pinned San Dimas’ Maxx Gonzales in 1:05 of their 220-pound finale and Palisades’ Kenny Jones pinned Bishop Amat’s Josh Sapien in 1:49 of the heavyweight final.
Bartholomew (3-0) was named the Lower Weight MVP, while Briceno (3-0) was the Upper Weight MVP.