San Marino wrestling team claims share of crown against South Pasadena
San Marino Titans respond from early deficit and win 11 of 12 bouts in defeating South Pasadena Tigers, 63-15.
San Marino's Tino Maese, left, won the 195 lb. match vs. South Pasadena's Pablo Centeno. (Raul Roa/Staff Photographer / January 24, 2013)
After dropping the first two bouts of Thursday afternoon’s league meet against visiting South Pasadena, the Titans responded by winning 11 of the next 12 matches en route to a dominating 63-15 win that accomplished a few things, perhaps most importantly, that of clinching the Titans a share of the Rio Hondo League championship.
“This is the first title I’ve coached here at San Marino and I honestly don’t know the last time the program won a league championship,” San Marino co-Coach Joe Gallardo said. “We kept on getting closer and closer the last few years and we’ve got one last match next week to seal the deal.”
With the win, San Marino (5-1 overall, 4-0 in league) is also assured the league’s one guaranteed postseason berth to the CIF Southern Section Division VI Dual Meet Wrestling Championships at Carter High in Rialto on Feb. 9.
The Titans can clinch an outright title next Tuesday at Monrovia.
For South Pasadena (2-2 in league), the loss all but officially eliminates the Tigers from dual-meet postseason consideration as league second-place La Cañada (3-1) would likely grab an at-large berth should the league be granted two playoff positions.
“Now we know that we’re not going to the playoffs, so going forward all we can focus on is the Rio Hondo League individuals,” South Pasadena Coach Al Shuton said. “I thought we hung in there pretty well in some cases, but we missed out on some big opportunities.”
Maybe the largest and best chance came early for South Pasadena, which delivered a staggering opening blow when juniors James Yun and Nick Min delivered pins at 106 and 113 pounds, respectively, to give the Tigers an early 12-0 lead.
Yet, both hard-fought victories were almost immediately nullified when the Tigers forfeited at 120 pounds right before South Pasadena sophomore Sam Benzoni medically defaulted 43 seconds into his 126-pound bout after injuring his head versus San Marino freshman Julian Flores.
Within less than two minutes, San Marino knotted the meet at 12 and then created space when 132-pound freshman Zander Wick notched a 15-4 major decision over Charlie Barrone.
The victory gave San Marino the lead for good, 16-12, and was followed by a 20-5 technical fall at 138 pounds from Titans junior Dominic Magana over Emiliano Sornoso that put San Marino up, 21-12.
San Marino’s first official pin came in the next weight class, as junior Adam Padilla delivered a thrilling fall at 3:59 versus Ryan Bell just before the horn for the third period blared.
After surrendering 27 straight points, South Pasadena finally answered when senior Albert Estrada secured a 6-2 decision over Daniel Walsh to keep the Tigers mathematically alive as the score turned to 27-15.
Yet, with two forfeits awaiting in the 220-pound and heavyweight divisions, the Tigers’ hopes of forcing a three-way Rio Hondo League championship were dashed when Titans senior Brian Chang pinned junior Zack Lyon at 1:55 to clinch the meet as San Marino went up, 33-15.
“I didn’t know that my win won it. That’s amazing,” Chang said. “This is an amazing experience. Three years ago, we were last place in league. To see this team turn around, I’ll hold that with me forever.”
San Marino also registered falls at 170 (Michael Scott), 182 (Alex Knott) and 195 pounds (Tino Maese). Forfeit wins at 220 pounds and heavyweight accounted for the final 12 of San Marino’s 63 points.