Heath Sims looked invincible and the teams from Canyon, Katella and Savanna high schools--small though they might be--appeared unstoppable during the preliminary rounds of the state wrestling championships Friday at University of the Pacific.
Woodbridge’s Sims, last year’s state champion at 132 pounds who has moved up to 138 this season, pinned his first opponent, Tokay’s Quoc Nguyen in 3 minutes 8 seconds, then beat Clovis’ Ralph Olivas, 8-3, and destroyed Jason Hendrick, 15-1, in the quarterfinals.
After that match, asked if he felt pushed much, Sims replied, “not really. But wait until tomorrow. Things really get tough then.”
Sims referred to today’s semifinals and finals. Canyon, Katella and Savanna, who took only seven wrestlers among them, placed two wrestlers each in the semifinals.
There was no surprise about Canyon’s Zach Cooper making the semifinals; he’s ranked No. 1 at his weight--191. But Cooper was trailing North Bakersfield’s Kevin Langley, 8-6, midway through the third period of their quarterfinal match. Cooper tied the match on a takedown, and won it in overtime, 14-9.
Cooper’s Southern Section rival, El Dorado’s Brian Tomazic, didn’t fare so well. Tomazic, who was second to Cooper at the 4-A championships and Masters meet, was beaten, 5-4, on a last second takedown by Brad Bell of Fresno Clovis West.
Canyon’s Ravi Ramsamooj, who has been bothered by a shoulder injury all season, advanced through the 112-pound division without a close match. He defeated Valhalla’s Pat Mack, 7-1, in the quarterfinals, and will take on favorite Tony Trujillo of Covina High in the today’s semifinals.
“Early in the season, because of my shoulder injury, I thought I’d never be able to wrestle again,” Ramsamooj said. “Now I’ve got my chance against Trujillo. I think if I wrestle like I did today and cut down on little mistakes, I can get him.”
Trujillo has defeated Ramsamooj all four times they have met.
Katella’s Joe Pastorello had cruised into the 175-pound quarterfinals by beating his two opponents by a combined score of 19-3. But he found himself down, 2-1, with less than a minute to go in his match against Jim Keck of College Park. With 55 seconds left, Pastorello tied the score on an escape and with 12 seconds to go he scored a two-point takedown and won, 4-2.
“I wasn’t worried,” he said. “I was just waiting for that one shot in on him. I knew if I could get it, I could finish it off.”
Katella’s Chris Mollkoy had a relatively easy road into the 154-pound semifinals, he won his first match with a pin, the second by four points, and beat Enterprise’s Mavin Gordan, 9-5, in the quarterfinals.
Savanna’s Mike Verbeck had anything but an easy time at 132 pounds. Verbeck won his first two matches each by a point before defeating Mt. Diablo’s Derek Miyake, 4-1, in the quarters.
Savanna’s Tony Okada had an up and down day at the 126-pound division. After winning, 6-0, in the first round, Okada needed overtime to defeat Calavares’ Greg Kirk. But he dominated San Martin’s Ryan O’Leary in the quarterfinals, 6-0.
Savanna placed two wrestlers in the semifinals for the first time, but didn’t place among the top 10 after the first three rounds, Katella was 10th with 20 1/2 points, Canyon was tied with Bullard for fourth with 24 1/2. No. 1-ranked and first-place Fresno Clovis West qualified five wrestlers for the meet and had 38 points. Ukiah was second with 25.