Brawley wins wrestling tournament

February 18, 2001|By ERIC GALVAN, Sports Writer

"Two weeks ago Brawley Union High wrestler Jose Reyes guaranteed his team would walk away from Southwest High School on Saturday as CIF San Diego Section Division III champions.

Add Reyes' name to the list of athletes who have followed through with their guarantees as the Wildcats won their first-ever CIF title under coach Keith Smith.

Brawley took the title with 287.5 points in the 27-team tournament. Ramona High was second with 243.5 points.

For 25 years the goal for Smith and his wrestlers had been to win the CIF title and for 24 of those Brawley came up short.

"Winning CIF had been our goal ever since I started coaching. This is all we had ever talked about," said Smith.


Last year, while in the much-bigger Southern Section, the Wildcats finished fifth overall.

This year, with the Imperial Valley League's move to the San Diego Section, things were shaping up nicely for Brawley. The Wildcats dominated their regular season dual meets, going 11-0 and finishing 5-0 in the IVL.

There was no question Brawley was one of the favorites going into Saturday. The Wildcats' biggest competition all day was Ramona, a team Smith and his squad saw in action Saturday for the first time.

"I started feeling it about two days ago. I kind of had a gut feeling we'd win it," added Smith. "I think this whole thing might take a while to sink in. But I'm going to enjoy this Sunday and come Monday we'll start getting ready for next week (the Master's tournament)."

Heading into the championship round the Wildcats had already clinched the crown with 267 points, so no matter the performances of their seven finalists, the title would go to Brawley.

Leading the way for the Wildcats in the finals were Reyes at 121 pounds, David Villagran at 103, Hector Carrillo (142) and Bucky Leigh (162). All took first place.

Each one of Brawley's wrestlers finished in the top six of their weight classes.

Villagran was the first to pick up a championship for the Wildcats, shutting out Holtville High's Cody Acosta 15-0.

"We worked too hard to lose this," said Villagran. "The competition was pretty good and we just wanted to take it one match at a time."

Things were slightly tougher for Reyes, but the result was the same: another Wildcat domination as Reyes manhandled Santana High's Robert Garcia 15-5.

In a battle between Brawley and Ramona, Carrillo pinned Ramona's Kenny Lawrence at the 44-second mark of their match.

Leigh recorded the second Wildcat finals shutout by downing University of San Diego's Elmer Parwani 6-0.

The four victories were more than enough to put the Wildcats over the top for good.

"I feel like we're on top of the world right now," said Reyes. "I said it, I guaranteed we'd win this. And we did. All this that we did was for coach Smith."

Along with the four Wildcats, Central Union High's Danny Vasquez and Imperial High's A.J. Smith were other local wrestlers winning it all.

Vasquez did so by having his way with Ramona's Brandon Doyle, defeating him 11-3 in their 132-pound match. Doyle had been undefeated on the season with a 30-0 mark.

Said Vasquez: "It feels great to win it all. All the hard work I put in really paid off."

The Spartans were the second-highest Valley finisher, taking sixth place overall with 104 points.

One of the biggest matches of the day was the 154-pound match between A.J. Smith and Brawley's Kiddo Moreno.

Both, the top two seeds, followed suit and made it to the finals. In the end, Smith was too much for Moreno, blanking him 7-0.

The win gave A.J. Smith his third consecutive CIF title.

Even with his third title, the Wildcats were the biggest story of the night

Said Keith Smith: "I think everyone really wrestled well for us tonight. We felt we could win this, but it was up to us to get it done. You have to earn everything in that circle. Nobody gives you anything in there.

"Winning this was our main goal. You have to have goals to keep you going. And we accomplished ours with this win."

Other top local finishers were the Wildcats' Martin Pulido in second place (114), Southwest High's Bill Amidon in second (127), Brawley's Jose Gutierrez (heavyweight) in second and Tim Dowden (132) and Miguel Miranda (217) in third for the Wildcats.

Holtville High took 11th place Imperial 12th, host team Southwest 17th and Calipatria 22nd.


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