Four Don Wrestlers Qualify for State

Four Don Wrestlers Qualify for State
Written by John Salzer
SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. - The Santa Ana Dons wrestling team went into the CCCAA Southern Regionals wrestling tournament, hoping to qualify in good standing for the state championships. Nine wrestlers competed for the Dons, with four wrestlers able to qualify for the final weekend. Early losses hampered chances to try and win their respective weight classes, but two 3rd place finishes helped the Dons to an 8th place finish. 
125 - Damien Lopez (0-2)
Lopez was paired with number one seed Christopher Betancourt of Mount San Antonio in the round of sixteen. They had wrestled before at the conference dual, with Betancourt winning by decision at that time. Lopez closed the gap to make it closer this time, even leading 3-2 at the end of the first period with a successful takedown after being down 2-1. However, Betancourt would turn on the offensive scoring consecutive takedowns in the final period to win the match 7-4. In the first round of consolation, Lopez would face Juan Diaz of Palomar. Throughout the match, the wrestlers would trade takedowns and escapes, with Lopez leading 7-6 with thirty seconds left in the match. However, a last second reversal by Diaz would go in his favor, who won the match 8-7 and ending Lopez's season. 
133 - Jose Mata (0-1)
Mata would enter the tournament as the number four seed based on his finishes at the Santa Ana and ELAC tournaments. However, an injury sustained in the first period in his match against Lucas Jeetan of Palomar would see him withdraw from the tournament entirely.
133 - Hector Camarena (2-3, 6th place)
Camarena like teammate Lopez would end up having to face the number one seed in Jason Valencia of Mount San Antonio in his first match of the tournament. Camarena was able to score one takedown, but Valencia ended up being a good leg rider and not allowing Camarena to get any good offense going, winning the match by 6-3. In the first consolation match, Camarena faced Lucas Jeetan of Palomar. In dominant leg riding fashion, the Dons wrestler was able to secure a quick takedown early on, and not let his opponent have a chance to escape and mount a counter offensive. Camarena would win his match with a score of 6-0. Camarena would then find himself out wrested in quick fashion for the consolation semi-finals match, being thrown and pinned by Roland Dominguez of Cerritos in 56 seconds. Having dropped to the 5th place and a berth to the state tournament on the line, he would wrestle against Owen Wilson of Palomar. While leading early in the match, Camarena would again get thrown into a pinning situation, which Wilson capitalized on. With that result, Camarena would officially finish 6th place, and was challenged by Luis Perez of Rio Hondo because they had not wrestled in the tournament. In the true 6th place match, Camarena scored a takedown early on, but Perez escaped to make the score 2-1. Both wrestlers would then earn escape points to make the score 3-2, but Perez but not make any offensive moves, enabling Camarena to hold on and earn his ticket to the state tournament.
141 - Zayn Patel (3-1, 3rd place)
Zayn Patel would enter the tournament with as the sixth seed, based on his performance at the ELAC Brawl, and having wins over ranked wrestlers in tournaments and duals. His first was in the quarter finals against number three seed and third ranked Miguel Cabrera of Rio Hondo. Patel would turn on his offense wrestling early in the match, scoring a takedown and leading 2-1 at the end of the first period. He would be able to combine that with an escape of his own, and a penalty point after Cabrera committed a technical violation. Cabrera would earn an escape point in the third period to make the score 4-2, but Zayn would secure a takedown towards the end of the match and get the upset. His semi-finals opponent would be the second seed Thomas Chapman, who showed why he was ranked number four in the state by getting a takedown, then turning Patel several times to win the match by a technical fall score of 19-0. Zayn would find himself in the consolation semi-finals match against Kimo Servino of Cerritos, whom he had beat earlier in the season to earn the sixth seed. Patel would hold his ground yet again by employing the tactics that he had used in the form of takedowns and defense, yielding his second upset in taking out the fifth seed and punching the first state tournament ticket for the Dons team. In the 3rd place match, Patel would have a chance to avenge his ELAC Brawl loss against Hector Ramirez of East LA, who was fourth seed in the weight class. Zayn made improvements from the mistakes he had made earlier and was able to score a combination of takedowns and not allowing Ramirez to hold him down when escaping. Patel would finish the match 6-3 and finish 3rd place.
149 - Salvador Munoz (0-2)
Hoping to capitalize on his success at the Cerritos dual after dropping down from 157 pounds, Salvador Munoz would first face Josue Aguilar of East LA in the round of 16. A series of unsuccessful throw attempts would land him on his back and allow him to fall behind early in the match. He would not be able to mount a comeback after Aguilar would be successful in countering Munoz's later takedown attempts. Munoz would lose the by majority decision 14-2. In the consolation match, he would wrestle against Everado Rueda of Bakersfield. A combination of unsuccessful takedown attempts and being ridden out by Rueda would hamper Munoz's scoring, and his season would end with the score being 9-3.
157 - Edward Ramirez (0-2)
Coming back from an injury, Ramirez would enter the tournament as the sixth seed based on his having scored upsets early on against some ranked opponents. But the early season accomplishments would not be enough to get Ramirez through, as he would unfortunately be pinned by Sami Barakat of Cuesta in his round of 16 match, and be dominated by Gavin Kaminski of Palomar 6-0 in his consolation match.
157 - Nicholas Poma (3-2, 7th place/True 6th place)
Poma would come into the tournament facing Daniel Bracamonte of Cerritos, who was the number one seed. Bracamonte scored a quick takedown, before working a turn and pinning Poma at 2:28 of the first period. Poma would respond quickly in the first consolation round by a powerful head and arm turn against Jacob Shibata of East LA to win by pin at 1:56 of his next match. In his next match, he would be outclassed by Gavin Kaminski, who had defeated teammate Edward Ramirez, unable to advance to the consolation semi-finals after losing 6-2. In the 7th place match, an early takedown against Israel Manriquez of Victor Valley allowed him to work his riding game, eventually working his opponent to his back and securing the pin. He would then wait for the result of the 5th place match and be allowed to challenge the loser of that match, as he had not faced either wrestler. He would then challenge Josiah Quiroz of Bakersfield, and made quick work of him with a throw to pin, earning him a berth at the state championships.
165 - Saeed Perez (4-1, 3rd place)
Perez would be seeded fifth based on his performance at the Cuesta Meathead tournament having finished 3rd place, and for his 9-2 record of the season. He would face the fourth seed Humphrey Quirie of Cuesta, who would be able to get takedowns on Perez early on, not allowing Saeed to mount an offensive to earn back the lost points. Perez would drop his quarter finals match 10-5 and begin the journey to fight back from there. In his first consolation match, he would wrestle against Daniel Hernandez of Palomar, and repeated his performance of their conference dual match by pinning Hernandez after a leg ride straight to a pin. He would follow this match in similar fashion with his leg ride to back exposure, winning by technical fall 16-0 over JP Raygoza of Moorpark in the second consolation match, and over Gracen Hayes of Bakersfield in the consolation semi-finals match. Perez would then get a chance to avenge his first match loss when he was paired again with Humphrey Quirie in the 3rd place match. Perez was able to make adjustments from earlier and managed to take Quirie down while using his leg ride to pin situation technique. While missing out on the fall, Perez was able to complete the comeback and won the match by a technical fall score of 24-7.
174 - Deniz Ari (0-2)
Ari would be in the smallest weight class of the tournament with only seven wrestlers, but in both of his matches he was not able to mount an offensive, being taken down and losing both his matches by fall to Joseph Fernandez (Moorpark) and Uriel Vasquez (Bakersfield). Vasquez would finish 6th, eliminating Ari from the opportunity to challenge for true 6th.
The four Dons wrestlers will be facing off against the other 19 schools when they compete at the CCCAA State Championships next week on December 10 and 11 at Cerritos College.