Whenever the Southern Section 4-A wrestling championships are held at Fountain Valley High School, the Barons sure do make themselves feel right at home.
Fountain Valley won the championship Saturday in its own gym, scoring 120 1/2 points to 116 1/2 points for runner-up Loara. The last time that the championship was at Fountain Valley in 1977, the Barons won that one, too.
Fountain Valley trailed Loara, 112 1/2-112, going into the finals, but two of three Barons came through to win their weight classes, giving them the margin for victory. Loara had one wrestler in the finals and he won his match, but it wasn't enough to stave off the Barons.
"This is my first championship," Fountain Valley Coach John Rosales said. "I was an assistant on that '77 team and in '78 we were in third place with four guys left going into the finals, but we didn't come through. This time we did.
"The credit also goes to my assistant coach, Steve Barreto. He was responsible for all of our guys that placed--he taught them various mat strategies, psychology, techniques. It takes two (coaches), sometimes more, to win a title."
The biggest cheer of the evening came after the Barons' Trent Kenney decisioned Tony George of Kennedy, 10-4, at 141 pounds. That win followed an 8-0 decision by Kenney's brother, Troy, over Tom Peterson of Covina at 135 pounds. Together, the two wins put the Barons over the top.
Fountain Valley's other wrestler to make the finals, Greg Drinnon, lost his championship match at 101 pounds, 5-2, but Rosales was tickled with his performance nonetheless.
"To just make the finals as a freshman is great" Rosales said. "He lost to somebody outstanding (Erin Millsap of Royal)."
Two other Barons also figured prominently in the team scoring: Marty Strech (122 pounds) and John Aguirre (168 pounds) both finished in third place. The top five finishers in the meet go on to wrestle in Saturday's Southern Section Master's Meet at Westminster. Winners there will advance to the state meet in Stockton.
Three other county wrestlers managed to win individual championships as well. In the only all-county final, Chris Wright of Loara decisioned Todd Tomazic of El Dorado, 11-5. And Steve Lawson of El Dorado won the 178-pound championship when he decisioned Miller Aiupu of Channel Islands, 18-7.
The team championship might have gone to Fountain Valley, but the most masterful wrestling exhibition of the evening was put on Marina junior Ed Ruiz, who won the 129-pound class with a hard-earned 5-4 victory over Brian Spilman of Edgewood.
Ruiz was losing late in the second period, 4-2, but managed an escape (one point) and then a takedown (two points).