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Villagran earns All-American

April 09, 2002|By RICHARD MYERS
36593112378e790844a6c129dd407174

Sports Editor

David Villagran made history Sunday.

The Brawley Union High wrestler finished seventh at the national high school wrestling championship meet in Cleveland, thus earning All-American status.

"I just wanted to wrestle my hardest and try not to lose," Villagran said. "The title just came along with (the winning)."

He added his goal at the beginning of the season was to compete in the national tournament and place.

"I really thought I could do it," he said.

"This is my first All-American," Brawley coach Keith Smith said Monday after the two had returned from the meet. "And this is Brawley's first."

Technically, Gilbert Mendez earned All-American status in the 1970s, Smith said. But he did not have to wrestle for it, Smith added, whereas Villagran did.

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Villagran went 4-2 during the three-day tournament in the 106-pound division.

After losing his first match Friday and bouncing back to win two matches Saturday, Villagran followed Sunday by going 2-1. In his first match Sunday, Villagran knocked off Nick Engel, who finished second in the Florida state tournament, 12-2.

"When Davie won, he won big," Smith said.

Villagran conceded he wanted to win by as large a margin as he could.

"I wanted to make sure no one came back and beat me," he said.

Villagran noted that happened to several wrestlers at the tournament who had comfortable leads only to lose their matches.

The win over Engel guaranteed Villagran would finish in the top eight and earn All-American recognition. He followed that with a 12-2 loss to Devon Schwartz of Kansas, who finished second in his state tournament and placed third at the national meet.

In the match for seventh and eighth place, Villagran topped Richard Hartley of Nevada, 13-1.

It was quite an experience for Villagran, who placed eighth at the California tournament last month.

Villagran admitted the styles of the opponents he faced were somewhat different than he encountered in his California matches.

"Some were more aggressive," he said. "There was more action."

Having wrestled at 112 pounds all season, Villagran dropped a weight for the national tournament.

"It was a stretch for Davie to make 106," Smith said. "I weighed him (Sunday) night and he weighed 115.

"Fortunately they just weighed them once for the tournament," Smith added.

Villagran returned to school Monday afternoon to a hero's welcome.

"We got back just in time see all the guys in sixth-period wrestling," Smith said. "They were all happy to see Davie and congratulate him."

Smith added Villagran also had an audience with the school district superintendent and Brawley principal and athletics director.

"It was pretty impressive," Smith said.

Fresh off his impressive showing Villagran will rest a while. Smith and Brawley Union High will host a National High School Coaches Association qualifying tournament at 10 a.m. Saturday. The top four finishers earn a berth to the national tournament this summer.

"Davie could wrestle in it if he wanted, but he won't," Smith said. "Instead he's going to help me run it."

One reason Villagran won't compete is he may have surgery on a little finger he injured just before the state tournament, Smith said.

Besides earning All-American status at the Cleveland meet, Villagran accomplished something else. He got to meet a number of college coaches.

"We're hoping Davie gets a good scholarship offer," Smith said.

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