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Local wrestlers ready for next test

February 23, 2001|By ERIC GALVAN, Sports Writer

After strong showings in the CIF San Diego Section Division III wrestling tournament last weekend, 26 Imperial Valley grapplers will invade Carlsbad for the section's Masters meet Saturday.

The goal for each wrestler is to place in the top three and earn a trip to the state finals in Stockton.

Brawley Union High, which won the CIF section title, is sending a wrestler in each of the 14 weight classes to Masters. Of the Wildcats' 14 wrestlers, two will be alternates, which means there is a chance they may not see action.

Knowing his team will have at least 12 wrestlers compete, the goal for Brawley coach Keith Smith is simple.

"I want 12 state qualifiers. We have 12 guys wrestling and I think all 12 can qualify," said Smith. "It won't be easy, though. I always try to tell my guys to set goals high enough that you have to work and struggle for them. Wrestling is a tough sport. It requires a little extra piece of your heart."

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Leading Brawley are David Villagran at 105 pounds and Jose Reyes at 121, both entering as No. 1 seeds, and 142-pounder Hector Carrillo, seeded No. 2.

Other local high seeds are Imperial High's A.J. Smith (154) as a No. 1, Southwest High's Bill Amidon (127) seeded No. 3, Cody Acosta (105) of Holtville High at No. 5 and Central Union's Danny Vasquez (132) and Michael Staton (173), both No. 7 seeds.

"I'm just going into Masters trying to finish at whatever I was seeded," said Acosta, a 14-year-old freshman. "I never go into a tournament expecting to do good. Sometimes it just happens. I'm just going to use all this as a learning experience for the future and whatever happens, happens."

Also getting seeded in the top eight for Brawley are Bucky Leigh (162) and Jose Gutierrez (heavyweight) as No. 3 seeds, Martin Pulido (114) at No. 6, 154-pounder Kiddo Moreno at No. 7 and Tim Dowden (132) at No. 8.

Rounding out the Wildcats' qualifiers are Cesar Mendez (127), Steven Moreno (137), Ernest Chavez (147), Andy Buckner (173), Markie Cazares (191) and Miguel Miranda (217).

Other local qualifiers are Central's Mario Luna (105), Ernie Castallanos (121), Cameron Lechner (147) and Alan Adame (191), Holtville's Jonathan Hawk (137) and Imperial's Miguel Gastellum (162).

"All this is real exciting. I really think I can beat the guys seeded above me," said Leigh, making his first trip to Masters. "I think I should've been seeded higher, but I'm just going to use that as motivation for this weekend. My goal is to qualify for state and hopefully if I get there, I'll be able to place."

Leigh said heading into the CIF meet, Brawley was as focused and motivated as its been during his tenure with the program and he hopes that carries over to Masters.

Added Gutierrez: "State is where we all want to go. I'm just going to go out, do my best and give it all I can. I've got nothing to lose.

"Everyone stepped it up for CIF, but we all have to step it up another level for Masters."

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