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Wildcats lead list of state finalists

February 25, 2001|By CHRIS GRANT, Sports Editor

CARLSBAD — The Brawley Union High School wrestling team added another star to its already stellar season as five Wildcat wrestlers qualified for the state meet at the San Diego Section Masters Meet here Saturday.

"We wrestled real well," said Brawley coach Keith Smith. "The competition's tough here. We would have liked to have somebody in third."

What the Wildcats did get was one first-place finish from Jose Reyes at 121 pounds and second-place finishes from David Villagran (103), Hector Carrillo (140), Bucky Leigh (162) and Jose Gutierrez (275). Imperial High School's A.J. Smith was the only other local wrestler to qualify for state, taking third at 152 pounds.

The five Wildcats bound for the state meet set a school record, the previous best being two, achieved last year.

"We've never had more than two guys going to state," said Smith. "Now we've got five, next year maybe six or seven."

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Brawley finished third in the meet. Poway High won the team competition.

While one first and four seconds is an outstanding result for such a strong competition, Smith was concerned that five of his wrestlers reached the championship round yet only one was victorious.

"We kind of had a letdown," he said. "If you win in the semis you know you're going to state. We have to work on overcoming that letdown. Next year we'll have to work on our intensity."

The one Wildcat who certainly did not let down was Reyes. The 121-pounder marched through his weight class and into the finals, where he took on Poway's Pat Payne. Early in the match Reyes had his opponent's shoulders to the mat in what appeared to be a pin. The referee, however, did not see it that way.

"I had him pinned," Reyes said. "I got robbed. But after that I knew I had the win."

Reyes went on to claim a 6-2 win and become the Imperial Valley's only Masters champion.

"I came out pretty good," Reyes added. "All the guys I wrestled I knew I could take them."

In Brawley's first finals match, Villagran jumped to a 2-0 lead before eventually succumbing to Mount Carmel's Tran Nguyen 10-4.

The Wildcats' Carrillo suffered a similar fate at 140 pounds. He held a 3-2 lead after the first period before losing 16-6 to Rancho Buena Vista's Dave Pearson.

Leigh almost became the second Wildcat to earn a Masters title. He held a 3-2 lead over Escondido's Scott Lee after two periods and had a 3-3 tie late in the final period before Lee scored two points with less than a minute left to take the win at 162 pounds.

After falling behind 7-1, Gutierrez made a late run at San Pascual's Mike Teller but came up short, dropping the final match of the evening 7-5.

Imperial's Smith made easy work of Valhalla's Dave Hermanson to claim third place and advance to state at 152 pounds.

In earlier action featuring local wrestlers, Holtville's Cody Acosta went 3-2 at 103 pounds, while Calexico's Esteven Jimenez (103) was 1-2. At 112 pounds Brawley's Martin Pulido finished 3-2. Central's Ernie Castellana went 1-2 at 119 pounds. At 125 pounds, Brawley's Cesar Mendez was 1-2 and Southwest's Bill Amidon was 2-2. At 130 pounds, Central's Danny Vazquez finished 3-2 and Brawley's Tim Dowden was 1-2. Holtville's Johnathan Hawk finished 1-2 at 135 pounds. At 140 pounds, Calexico's Harry Ramirez finished 1-2. Brawley's Ernest Chavez went 0-2 at 145 pounds. Brawley's Kiddo Moreno went 2-2 at 152 pounds and just missed a trip to the third-place match when he lost to Smith. At 173 pounds, Central's Michael Staton went 1-2. At 189 pounds, Calexico's Adrian Olivas went 0-2, as did Brawley's Mark Cazares. Brawley's Miguel Miranda went 1-2 at 215 pounds.

Next up for the five Wildcats and Imperial's Smith will be a trip to the state finals in Stockton next weekend.

For one Wildcat grappler the trip will give him a shot at proving he is one of the state's top wrestlers.

"My goal is to place in the top three," said Reyes. "I'm pretty confident I can do it. Now I've got to prove I can do it and hopefully I can."

Final scores weren't available at presstime Saturday night.

Sports Editor Chris Grant can be reached at 337-3434

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