This weekend five CV wrestlers wrestled with absolute heart and soul. Seniors Russell Fitzpatrick and Victor Mendoza wrestled the final matches of their careers, while Phillip O’shea, a sophomore, wrestled in his first Masters tournament. They “went to war” and left it all on the mat.  Fellas, we are very proud of you.  Each of you faced adversity in this tournament, and each of you faced it in a courageous way.  It would be very easy to give up or let it mentally get to you, but you guys ended with a bang, not a whimper, and though you did not qualify for state, how you battled out there is what matters. 

PHILLIP O'SHEA...doin work.

Seniors Juan Hernandez and Christian Hauser likewise wrestled tough, qualifying for state.  Good job fellas!  The Southern Section Masters meet is a meat grinder of a competition.  Every match is against a quality, tough opponent.  You must be on guard and completely focused for every match.  Make one mistake and you are done.  Needless to say, its tough just to get there, much less to medal at the meet.  The top 9 advance to the state meet.  That sounds like a lot, but given the quality of wrestlers there, it is extremely difficult to place in the top 9.  The medals go not necessarily to the most talented, but to the ones with the most focus.  The reason why its 9 instead of, say, 3, is because of the Southern Section’s size (over 250 schools), and the quality of wrestlers.  Weaker and smaller sections, like LA city or Oakland, only get 1 or 2 qualifiers, because those tournaments are much easier.  The number reflects the relative toughness of each section.  That the SS gets 9 should tell you something about the tournament.

Throughout the whole weekend, there was drama, and stories that came out of the weekend that will serve as good examples for the younger guys.  Russell battled his heart out despite an injury to his hand that greatly affected his ability to do what he does best (namely: ride on top and turn guys for pins) and his ability to take a wrestler down.  Juan wrestled like a man every match.  In his quarterfinal match he was wrestling a guy that was, quite frankly, muscling him around.  The second period came, Juan reversed him, and within 30 seconds put him on his back and pinned him.  That’s how you handle a moose.

Christian had perhaps the toughest road to state that I’ve seen in a while.  He had an injured ankle *and* knee and had to go through a gauntlet of tough opponents, guys that were better than him on paper.  First, a highly ranked wrestler was upset in the early rounds of the tournament, and after C won his first consolation round (he was 1-1 in the tournament prior to dropping into the consolation bracket), this highly ranked wrestler from MLK matched up with Christian early in the consolation bracket.  C pins him.  The very next round he faced Johnny Sanchez of Santa Ana, who was #1 ranked in the OC….and oh yeah, he’s beaten Hauser the last 4-5 times they’ve faced.  Tough draw!  Though C lost to him, he fought hard.

This meant he dropped into the “crying round.”  This is a four man bracket where the wrestlers fight it out for that last spot–9th place–to state.  It is dubbed the “crying round” because of the heartbreak involved for those who lose–they fight so hard back from the brink of defeat only to be sent home with one more loss.

In the first match of the bracket, C faced Subastian Chavez of Colony, who defeated him last week at CIF.  C nails him 11-5.  Then, in the 9th place match, he faced returning CIF champ Luis Ortiz of Magnolia.  There were a few controversial referree calls that did not go his way, and largely due to those calls, C found himself behind 6-3 in the third period.  At this point, he could have easily came apart or given up, but he kept his focus and kept scrappin.  He pulled a 5-point move out of his bag of tricks and pinned Ortiz to go to state.

I mean you shoulda seen the move…the kid was pinned in the air. 

Like I said, the weekend was filled with drama.

****In other news: we now have 9 wrestlers signed up for club (not counting outgoing seniors who are going to continue wrestling in their clubs in the spring).  This is over two times the amount we had 2 weeks ago.  Lets keep this going to see if we can get 15 or more signed up for club in the spring!

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