Dons Send Five Wrestlers to State Championships

Dons Send Five Wrestlers to State Championships

Story by John Salzer

BAKERSFIELD, Calif - Santa Ana College will be represented by five wrestlers at the CCCAA State Wrestling Championships which will take place December 7-8 at Delta College. Josh Fuentes-Norikiyo (133), Jeremy Huang (141), Wolfgang Bernal (149), Brandon Tierney (165), and Leo Perez (184) will be competing in the tournament which will see the 20 schools from the north and south combined.


Fuentes-Norikiyo (133) started off his day by wrestling Marco Velasquez of host Bakersfield in the quarterfinals. After taking a commanding lead 10-1 in the first period, plus an escape after starting the second to go 11-1, Velasquez secured a head and arm move to score a six point takedown and close Fuentes-Norikiyo's lead to four. In the third period, Velasquez chose neutral and got a takedown, but Fuentes-Norikiyo was able to score a reversal in the closing seconds of the match to win 13-9 and advance to the semi-finals. His opponent for the semi-finals would be Josh Brown from Cerritos, ranked number 4 in the state. It would be Brown's match from start to finish, as he scored 4 takedowns off Fuentes-Norikiyo and had enough riding time for a 9-4 win against the Dons wrestler. In the consolation semi-finals match, he would face off against Zachary Moistner of Palomar. After a scoreless first period, Moistner scored the first point of the match with an escape in the second period, with no additional points scored by either wrestler. Fuentes-Norikiyo would choose bottom in the last period, getting a reversal and straight to back maneuver to win by fall. For the third place match, Fuentes-Norikiyo started off with a quick takedown, but his opponent Adam Valdez of Mt San Antonio would respond with a quick escape and his own takedown for a 3-2 lead at the end of the first period. Fuentes-Norikiyo would get an escape in the second period, but was not be able to score off his opponent, instead giving up a takedown and being ridden the rest of the period. Valdez would get one point for an escape to lead the match 6-3, and with riding time a factor, Fuentes-Norikiyo would make one last charge with an unsuccessful throw attempt, giving a takedown and a four point nearfall to Valdez.


Jeremy Huang's first opponent of the day would be Joseph Dominguez of Mt San Antonio, ranked number 2 in the state. Like at the Mt SAC conference dual, Dominguez proved his riding skills against Huang, scoring a takedown plus nearfall points. Dominguez would turn Huang several times, but Huang kept the fight going by keeping off his back and not letting Dominguez score a pin. Dominguez would finish the match quickly with a tech fall 15-0 against Huang. The first consolation semi-finals match Huang against teammate Andrew Longmore, who lost his first round match to Nick Camacho of Cerritos. Huang would play his riding game tough, with a takedown in the first period, yielding an escape to Longmore before riding Longmore for the entire second period. In the last period Huang would score a reversal before letting Longmore go, and would hold on with an additional riding time point to win 5-2, ending Longmore's season. The result of the next match would be the same in favor of Huang over Devin Daugherty of Cerritos, as Huang would score a combination of takedowns, a reversal, and riding time to defeat Daugherty 7-3 and advance to the consolation semi-finals. This would be a rematch against Arturo Osorio of Palomar, who had defeated Huang at the ELAC Brawl tournament two weeks prior. Huang started off with a takedown against Osorio in the first period before Osorio would answer with a reversal. Huang would manage the escape and lead the match 3-2 going into the second period. Each wrestler would trade escapes in the second and third periods, but Huang would ride Osorio long enough to gain riding time and win the match 5-3. This victory would punch Huang's ticket to the 3rd place match and also to the state tournament. In the 3rd place match, Huang would face Nick Camacho of Cerritos. The first period would end scoreless, but Huang would ride Camacho out the entire second period, before earning his escape plus riding time to win 3rd place by a score of 2-0.


Wolfgang Bernal would start his day in style by scoring a fall over Robert Tabarez of Cuesta in the second period of the quarter-finals. He would then be challenged by Nathan Navida of Palomar in the semi-finals, where Navida would score early with a head and arm takedown to take a 6-0 lead. The Wolf would respond with a reversal before Navida would get an escape, ending the period 7-2 in favor of Navida. Bernal would then earn an escape and a takedown in the second period, closing the gap to 7-5 entering the third period. Navida would score an escape to lead 8-5 before Bernal got a takedown to be only one point behind his opponent. In the closing thirty seconds of the match, it seemed like Bernal would take the lead after getting a half-nelson and what looked like a near fall combination for two points. However an illegal hold call against Bernal would negate the near fall, giving Navida a 9-8 win after Bernal was awarded one point riding time. Bernal would wrestle against Jace Heryford of Cuesta in the consolation semi-finals, where he would take an early 6-0 lead. He would get ridden out, however, for the entire second period, and also give up a penalty point for a figure-four around his opponent's head during one of his escape attempts. Heryford would choose neutral in the last period to try and takedown Bernal, but Bernal would defensively manage while giving up two stalling warnings, plus the riding time scored by Heryford. Bernal would advance to the 3rd place match by a score of 6-3. Bernal's opponent for the 3rd place match would be Manuel Salcedo of Mt San Antonio. Bernal would dominate the first two periods by way of two takedowns and riding Salcedo out for the remainder of the periods. He would then score an escape in the third period before being taken down by Salcedo towards the end of the match, but would hold on for a 6-3 win for 3rd place.


Brandon Tierney at 165 first wrestled Mace Anderson of Palomar in the quarter-finals. He would lead 5-2 at the end of the first period by way of two takedowns and an escape versus Anderson's two point reversal. Tierney would open his lead in the second period after getting an escape and a takedown, plus riding Anderson out the remainder of the period. Anderson would choose neutral, and would get a head and arm hold in the last five seconds of the match, but had to settle for a takedown and two point near fall, giving Tierney the win 9-6 including riding time. In the semi-finals, Tierney faced off against Matthew Mejia, which started off with a scoreless first period. Tierney would score an escape point before being taken down by Mejia, and would get another escape point to tie the match 2-2 going into the third period. Mejia would respond in the third period with an escape and takedown, leading 5-2. Tierney would get one last escape point, unable to tie the match with a takedown attempt, losing 5-3. For the consolation semi-finals, Tierney matched against Anthony Espinoza of Rio Hondo. Espinoza would come out strong, getting two takedowns against Tierney's two escapes in the first period. Espinoza further opened up his lead after scoring a takedown and a four point near fall, but Tierney would get two escapes and a takedown to close the gap back down and make the match score 10-6 going into the third period. Tierney would try to mount a comeback with one takedown score, but the next attempt would fail and Espinoza would score instead, plus two escapes and riding time in favor of Espinoza, giving the Rio Hondo wrestler a 15-9 win. In the 5th place match, Josh Koning of Moorpark would get a leg trip and throw Tierney straight to his back for a fall in thirty seconds. Tierney would not be challenged for true 6th because the 7th place finisher was Mace Anderson of Palomar, who he had defeated earlier in the quarter-finals.


Leo Perez would be the final state qualifier for the Santa Ana Dons at 184. He would challenge Angel Verduzco of Cerritos in the quarter-finals, which saw action be slow in the first period going 0-0. Perez would score an escape in the second period, but would give up a takedown and be ridden out for the remainder of the period. Verduzco would answer with his own takedown, but two stalling calls against him would close his lead over Perez 3-2. Perez however was unable to secure a takedown, and would drop down into the consolation bracket. His next opponent would Ivan Sevilla of West Hills. The first period would see no scoring, followed by an escape for Perez in the second period. Sevilla would earn his own escape in the third period, and a failed takedown attempt by Sevilla allowed Perez to get his opponent into a fall position and win by fall with seven seconds remaining in the match. Perez would not fare as well in the consolation semi-finals as he would be pinned by Julian Melecio of Mt San Antonio in two minutes and fifty seven seconds of the first period. His final match of the day would be the 5th place match against Merceles Velasquez of Palomar. This would be the fourth meeting between the two for the season. Both wrestlers would trade a takedown and escape each to end the first period 3-3. The second period would see things go Perez's way, as he would score an escape and a takedown to lead 6-3 into the last period. And escape by Velasquez would close the score 6-4, but a last takedown by Perez would win him the match 8-4 and earn his trip to the state tournament.


Also competing for Santa Ana was Sam Galdamez-Valle, who saw his season end after going 0-2 for the day. Andrew Longmore was the second 141 pound wrestler for Santa Ana, going 1-2 while securing fall bonus points for the team in his only win for the day.


The team overall finished 7th with 60 team points for the day. Rounding out the top 3 were host Bakersfield, Cerritos, and Mt San Antonio.


193.5 - Mt San Antonio

149.0 - Cerritos

148.5 - Bakersfield

140.0 - Palomar

80.5 - Rio Hondo

73.0 - West Hills

60.0 - Santa Ana

58.0 - Moorpark

48.0 - Cuesta

15.0 - ELAC

0.0 - Victor Valley


The State championships will take place at Delta College in Stockton December 7-8.