2012-02-23 / Sports

Marmonte grapplers are Masters on the mat

League sending 16 wrestlers to Temecula
By Eliav Appelbaum

Postseason wrestling is a merciless, unforgiving grind.

Boys become men. Young men break down. The broken rise again.

At the CIF- Southern Section Eastern Division Wrestling Championships last weekend at Oak Hills High, the Marmonte League’s finest showed up ready to rumble.

Sixteen Marmonte grapplers advanced to this weekend’s Masters tournament.

Masters takes place Friday and Saturday at Temecula Valley High.

Newbury Park’s Max Quiroz, Samuel Duchene of Simi Valley and Moorpark’s Matt Thompson earned CIF championship belts.

Wrestlers from Royal, Westlake and Thousand Oaks posted top-five finishes.

Quiroz and Panther teammate Devin Duarte found some magic at Oak Hills.

Quiroz pinned Westlake’s Amir Hassan in the 136-pound semifinals.

Hassan defeated Quiroz twice during the regular season.

A junior, Quiroz went on to win the section title 9-8 against Santa Fe’s Daniel Contreras.

“He was so ready,” NPHS head coach Gary Murphy said of Quiroz. “His whole mentality was: ‘I’m going to go and do everything I can.’”

Duarte made an uplifting run to fifth place while earning a welldeserved Masters trip.

After injuring his ankle during the Marmonte League tournament, the 145-pound junior qualified for the section meet as an alternate

Duarte missed a week of practice. He returned to the room on Feb. 13 but was still hobbling.

Still, Duarte refused to quit.

“I earned my spot. I’m going to go,” Duarte said, according to Murphy.

Duarte lost his first section match 5-0 to Alex Fuentes of Chaminade and was immediately relegated to the consolation bracket.

The Panther won his next four bouts before facing Fuentes a second time. Duarte lost again, but only by a 3-2 margin.

In the fifth-place match, with the last ticket to Masters on the line, Duarte pinned Moorpark’s Ryan Thompson.

“He reached down and found something inside,” Murphy said of Duarte. “It was unbelievable.”

On Monday, Murphy said Duarte’s ankle was still sore.

Seniors Brandon Holm and Hunter Ing also wrestled well for Newbury Park but did not advance to Masters.

Simi Valley continued its dominating run with four grapplers reaching the finals, including Samuel Duchene at 145 pounds.

Duchene pinned Jon- Bert Dones of crosstown rival Royal in the championship match.

Duchene won his other three bouts 10-2, 10-1 and by fall while improving to 44-5 overall.

“I view CIF as a steppingstone to get to Masters and from there to get to state,” said Duchene, who was fifth at the section meet in 2011.

“Winning it this year shows my improvement and how hard work really does pay off.”

Duchene said he’s looking forward to a strong showing at Temecula.

“At Masters, I’m going for the belt. I really want to win that,” the senior said. “I just need to work on my technique. I’ve only been wrestling for three years, and I still make some mistakes. I really have to clean that up.

“My goal is not to give up any points. I’ve got to stay in the zone.”

Simi Valley seniors William Gockel-Figge (195 pounds), Austin Braddock (152) and Brandon Campbell (132) nabbed secondplace section finishes.

SVHS finished third as a team.

Gockel-Figge went 4-1 at the tournament, including two pins. He lost 5-3 in the championship to Oak Hills’ Robert Marchese, the No. 1 grappler in the state, according to the California Wrestler website.

Braddock and Campbell also went 4-1.

Simi Valley senior Shane Murphy secured fifth at 126.

“I was really happy with the way we attacked our opponents,” SVHS head coach Guy Greene said. “All year long we prepare every week. We wrestle hard. We train hard.”

Simi Valley planned another tough week of practice. On Monday, grapplers from Westlake, Newbury Park and Moorpark worked out with the Pioneers.

Moorpark placed eighth as a team among 41 schools that scored points at the Eastern Division tourney.

Matt Thompson earned a heavyweight championship for Moorpark two weeks after clinching a league crown.

“Mentally, he’s there,” Musketeer head coach Travis Lavallee said of the sophomore Thompson. “He’s ready to go. This kid’s sights are set on state; however, he’s not looking past anyone. He’s taking it one match at a time.

“He studies the sport. He’s managing his matches better, and he’s not making the same mistakes twice.”

Thompson went 5-0 with three pins, including a fall in the title bout to Jeremiah Pele of Sultana.

Moorpark senior Andrew Singer nabbed second place at 225 pounds.

“Andrew needs to keep focused on his technique,” Lavallee said. “He’s fast. He’s crafty. He’s got a ton of experience he can rely upon.”

Richie Vaillancourt, an MHS junior, was fourth at 120. Vaillancourt is a three-time league champ.

Lavallee said the Musketeers have the talent and determination to advance to the state finals.

Thompson’s older brother, Ryan, needed one win to make it to Masters. The senior, who reached Masters last year, lost to Newbury Park’s Duarte in the fifth-place match.

“We were disappointed he didn’t make it out to the next round,” Lavallee said of Ryan Thompson.

“He’s just a really great kid. I’ve already invited him to come back and coach with me. I (offered) him a job at my work. He’s just a really, really good kid. I loved having him around.”

Royal wrestled with purpose at Oak Hills, placing seventh in the team standings.

Highlander senior Jon-Bert Dones ( second place, 145), junior Taylor Amic ( fourth, 152) and senior Cody Goshman (fourth, heavyweight) advanced to Masters.

“They wrestled with a lot of intensity,” Royal head coach Richard Carrillo said. “Mentally we saw them be at a whole different level this weekend, which was great to see.”

Carrillo said Dones looked strong from every position at the section meet.

Amic was focused and intense, while Goshman wrestled with confidence, the coach said.

Highlanders Tom Fulgentes and Nathen Ruiz wrestled through injuries.

Ruiz, a senior, won three matches at the tourney.

“He was in so much pain all weekend,” Carrillo said of Ruiz.

“He persevered and did such a great job. I do believe he did the absolutely best he could.”

Westlake juniors Amir Hassan (fifth, 136) and Robert Flores (third, 195) advanced to Masters.

Hassan, a league champion, will try to bounce back with a stronger showing in Temecula.

“I know he can wrestle better,” Westlake head coach John Cuccia said of Hassan. “He didn’t have a good tournament at all. . . .

“He’s working on technique and making the adjustments he needs to make to get through Masters.”

Flores won six matches in two days to seal third place.

“Robert wins with his tenacity,” Cuccia said. “He doesn’t give up, no matter what. What he lacks in technique he makes up for in endurance and tenacity. Losing isn’t an option.”

Austin Welty of Thousand Oaks suffered a broken nose in his final match of the tournament to Shaun Donley of Serrano, a 6-4 overtime loss that put Welty in fourth place at 170 pounds.

The long, lean and super flexible Lancer will still be ready to go for Masters.

“He never gives an inch,” Thousand Oaks head coach Kerry Lyne said of the senior Welty.

“He’s a very smart and skilled kid. And he has a lot of toughness, which he showed this weekend.”

Lyne said Welty has a chance to make some noise at Temecula and beyond.

“He’s the kind of kid who can beat anyone,” the coach said. “There’s no match he can’t win because he’s a pinner. But it’s going to be tough. Masters is always tough. He wants to get through to state—we just want to be in the top nine somehow.”

Jonah Hershman, Christian Barry and Josh Cortes also grappled well for the Lancers at the section meet, Lyne said.

Calabasas senior Jon Dehhaghi was one win away from advancing to Masters.

David Boyko of Agoura won two matches by fall.

Now the 16 survivors trudge forward to Masters. The top nine in each weight bracket advance to the state tournament the following weekend in Bakersfield.

“We’re in a grind right now,” Lavallee said. “We had CIF last week, Masters this week and state coming up. Those are three big tournaments back-to-back-toback.

“The quality of wrestling gets better and better and better.”

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