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Ochoa, Moorpark End Suspense Early in State Wrestling Finals

TIMES STAFF WRITER

After waiting 22 years for his first state team championship, Moorpark College wrestling Coach John Keever was happy the suspense lasted only two matches into the last session of the state finals Saturday night at Cypress College.

The title, so long in coming, was suddenly in Keever’s hands--as was Delfino Ochoa, who leaped into Keever’s arms after winning the championship at 126 pounds. Ochoa’s victory mathematically eliminated Moorpark’s pursuers in the team race.

“It took the heat off us,” said Keever, who was voted state coach of the year. “I knew when he won that thing that we were state champs.”

Moorpark, which finished second last season, finished with 96.25 points to nip Lassen (88) and Fresno City (77.5).

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In winning its first championship in 24 years of wrestling, Moorpark took control in the two Saturday sessions with two firsts, two seconds, a third and a fifth.

“We made plans for this. We had no surprises,” said Keever, who told his team at its first meeting in August that he believed the Raiders could win the title.

Ochoa was voted outstanding wrestler of the tournament in a landslide. Teammate Robby Cook finished second in the balloting.

Ochoa led off Moorpark’s Fab Four Finalists with a 5-3 victory over defending champion Orlando Montero of Cerritos.

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Trailing, 3-1, Ochoa tied it with a takedown 12 seconds before the end of the second period. Ochoa (32-4-1) began the third period in the down position, but Montero let him escape for the winning point.

“I was still kind of scared of him because he’s so big,” Ochoa said through teeth bloodied from biting his tongue during the match. “I kept going at him, and I didn’t let him set up any moves.”

Ochoa, who won at 118 last season, became the third wrestler in Moorpark history to win two state championships.

A runner-up last year at 134, Cook (36-6) moved up a weight, to 142 pounds, and up a place with an easy 10-1 bashing of Cuesta’s Brian Fortunbaugh in the final.

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Moorpark freshman Phil Guerrero (28-8-2) never could get the upper hand in his 177-pound match against Bakersfield’s Luis Castro, who led throughout in a 4-1 victory.

Moorpark’s Tony Flores, second at 177 last year, added another second-place medal to his collection. Flores (27-7) tied Ken Stegall, 4-4, midway through their 190-pound match but faltered thereafter in a 9-5 loss.

Moorpark made its move in the afternoon session, turning a 1 1/2-point deficit to Fresno into a 10.25-point first-place cushion and putting four wrestlers into the finals.


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