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AOW: Wildcat mat technician rips through competition at tourney

January 29, 2002|By ERIC GALVAN

Sports Writer

Heading into the 39th annual Holtville High wrestling tournament, Brawley Union High School's Stephen Moreno figured if everything went his way, he'd be champion in the 135-pound division.

A day after being seeded as the No. 1 wrestler at 135 pounds, Moreno accomplished what he set out to do as he went 4-0 in the tournament and took first place.

"I thought I did pretty good in that tournament and I was kind of satisfied. But I still feel like there are a couple things I need to work on, little things," said the 17-year-old junior. "The competition at this tournament was pretty good. There were some really good schools there. But I think there's still better competition out there that I have to prepare for."

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While the three-year varsity letterman felt good about his chances in the tournament, he felt even better when he found out that he'd be the top-seeded wrestler in his division.

"After they told me that I was No. 1, to me, I just felt like that was something I had to live up to," Moreno said. "That just seemed like added pressure to come through and win."

The pressure did not stop Moreno from taking out his competition.

In the finals he decisioned Valhalla's Bobby Scott 14-8. But it was his semi-final match against Edel Lopez of Holtville that Moreno felt was his toughest match of the two-day tournament.

Of the four wrestlers he faced, Lopez was the only one who held a lead against him. Down 3-0 after the first period, Moreno pulled everything together and pinned Lopez.

"Sometimes the semis are tougher than the finals, just because of seedings and where guys get placed. For me, Lopez was the toughest guy I faced in that tournament," said Moreno. "After the first day of the tournament, when I had won my first two matches, I was feeling pretty good. But after I won the semifinal, I knew I could take it all."

Not only did Moreno take first place in his weight class, he helped Brawley to second place behind Valhalla.

Next on the agenda for Moreno and his teammates is trying to repeat as San Diego Section division champions.

"Last year we set the bar for ourselves when we won it. So the bar was set then. But Coach (Keith Smith) is always raising the bar and setting it higher for us. And looking at our team right now, I really do think that we can repeat as CIF champs."

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