ONTARIO — While satisfaction proved elusive for Hoover High senior Arthur Ghukasyan at Saturday afternoon’s second day of the CIF Southern Section Masters Wrestling Meet at Citizens Business Bank Arena, the Tornadoes grappler was far from disappointing.
Ghukasyan finished 1-2 on Saturday, but completed a 4-2 run through the tournament in a 160-pound division that featured the No. 1 and 3 wrestlers in state.
Overall, Ghukasyan took fourth place and, just as importantly, earned a berth to next weekend’s season-ending CIF State Championships held at Bakersfield’s Rabobank Arena.
“My goal coming here was to win this and advance to state and I only did one,” Ghukasyan said. “I like that I’m going to state, but I just think it was experience that hurt me. I know judo, that’s my sport, I’ve only been doing wrestling for a couple of years and sometimes that hurts me.”
Ghukasyan’s third and final match of the day came in the third-place bout against state third-ranked Aaron Negrette of Santa Ana Calvary Chapel.
Ghukasyan (21-3) and Negrette were scoreless for nearly the entire first period until Negrette landed a quick takedown with 15 seconds left in the first.
Negrette’s two-point advantage doubled five seconds into the second round when the Inland Division champion delivered another takedown to go up, 4-0.
Unfortunately for the 36th-ranked Ghukasyan, two near takedowns in the period were thwarted as Negrette was able to wiggle himself out of bounds.
Eventually Negrette led, 8-2, in the third round before Ghukasyan delivered his third and final escape of the bout to cement the 8-3 score.
“I’m very happy with the result here this weekend,” Hoover Coach Dave Beard said. “Obviously, Arthur didn’t wrestle his best today, but how can you not be happy going to state?
“Remember, Arthur has only been wrestling for the last three years, these guys have been doing it since they’ve been 5. So, it’s a different world and a great, great experience.”
Ghukasyan opened his day with a tremendous challenge in facing Northview High senior Bryan Salinas, the top-ranked wrestler in state, according to thecaliforniawrestler.com, and was defeated in a 13-3 major decision.
Ghukasyan hung tough with Salinas and trailed the senior, 4-2, after one round with his points coming on escapes.
Yet, Salinas pushed away from Ghukasyan in the second round behind two takedowns, a reversal and one escape to steam ahead to an 11-2 advantage.
“He was a tough guy to face at first because he came at me at an awkward position,” Salinas said of Ghukasyan. “Once I figured out my style of wrestling against his style, then the match got easier.”
Salinas then capped a 9-0 run with a takedown with 56 seconds remaining in the third just before Ghukasyan fell out of bounds.
Down 13-2, Ghukasyan grabbed a final point on a late escape in avoiding a technical fall, but still going down to defeat.
“The Northview kid wrestled great and anticipated Arthur’s moves well,” Beard said. “Plus, he has experience in freestyle and Greco-Roman wrestling and really showed a lot of depth.”
The defeat thrusted the Hoover grappler into the consolation bracket semifinals, where he met an old foe in San Jacinto’s Mark Aceval.
A week earlier, Ghukasyan notched his first big postseason victory when the then-unranked wrestler defeated No. 39 Aceval, 5-2, in the CIF-SS Eastern Division Individual championship quarterfinals.
This time around, both wrestlers traded one point each through the first two rounds via escapes before Ghukasyan landed a takedown early in the third round in going ahead, 3-1.
Again, both wrestlers conceded escapes before Aceval secured a late takedown with 10 seconds remaining to send the match, now tied at 4, into overtime.
In the one-minute, sudden-elimination extra session, Ghukasyan and Aceval both danced around the circle’s borders until Ghukasyan secured a 6-4 victory with a takedown with seven seconds remaining.
“I guess going against that guy before helped me,” Ghukasyan said.
Ghukasyan entered Saturday’s final day of competition after a 3-0 run Friday in which he defeated Atascadero’s Ryan Lombardi (7-2), Long Beach Millikan’s Chris Messerschmitt (6-0) and Redlands East Valley’s Blake Stevenson (5-4 in overtime).