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Channel Islands Wrestlers Flatten Westlake

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Only two seasons ago, Westlake High’s wrestling team stole in and grabbed the Marmonte League title from a Channel Islands dynasty that had won three consecutive championships.

But it must seem like 100 years to Westlake Coach Tony Volante, whose team dropped a 61-3 decision to Channel Islands in a league dual match Thursday at Westlake.

“We got worked over pretty good,” Volante said. “They’re extremely tough.”

Since the Warriors won the title in 1989, Channel Islands has returned to its championship form. Last season, the Raiders were unbeaten in winning the league title and finished 22-1.

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And little has changed this year.

Channel Islands, ranked fifth in the Southern Section 4-A Division, improved to 22-1 overall and 5-0 in league play, and clinched at least a tie for its second consecutive title. The Raiders’ only loss was to San Diego Poway, a state powerhouse that also handed Channel Islands its lone loss last season.

This match was a case of the Raiders’ strong, experienced team against a Westlake squad that has no seniors and includes five sophomores and two freshmen.

Truly an open and shut case.

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Channel Islands’ Ray Estrada (103 pounds) set the tone when he pinned Norman Toy, a sophomore, in 3 minutes 35 seconds. Estrada improved to 19-8 overall, 4-1 in league dual matches. Toy is 10-6.

Channel Islands’ Valo Barajas, considered one of the top 112-pound wrestlers in the state, improved to 34-2 with a 20-4 technical fall over Pejman Daneshnia in the second round. Daneshnia, a sophomore, dropped to 13-6.

Westlake forfeited at 119, which improved T. R. Merickel’s record to 32-2 and 5-0. Merickel finished second in the 4-A meet last season. Art Balayan lifted his record to 19-11 after a Warrior forfeit in the 125-pound class.

Channel Islands’ Chet Dossin needed only 53 seconds to pin George Segasvary in the 130-pound match, improving his record to 28-8 and 4-1. At 135, Martin Vargas won in an 18-10 decision over Binh Hoang that gave Channel Islands a 33-0 lead in team scoring.

It was just another day on the mat for Channel Islands, which has won 110 of 117 dual meets since 1987. The Raiders will compete in the prestigious Morro Bay tournament today and Saturday, an event that is considered as competitive as the state meet in March.

“We wrestled OK,” Channel Islands Coach Rob Vieira said. “I thought we’d be a little flat against a team like (Westlake). It’s tough to try and peak here, and peak (at Morro Bay), so this was mostly a tune-up.”

Consider the Raiders tuned.

Channel Islands’ Temo Ochoa, a sophomore wrestling in his first varsity match, handed Carlos Chavarria a 5-2 loss at 140 pounds. The Raiders’ Heida Kuwata, who has dropped from 152 pounds to 145 this season, pinned Dan Lemmon in 3:48 and improved to 30-3-2.

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Kuwata’s victory gave Channel Islands a 42-0 lead, clinching the team victory with five matches remaining. Yet the Raiders continued to prove they are strong throughout their lineup.

Marc Amon pinned Aaron Valance, a freshman, at 152 pounds and Adrian Balderrama held off a charging Andrew Crisp to win, 6-5, at 160 pounds. Charles Ritter improved to 19-2 with a 13-5 decision over Jason Legere at 171.

Westlake avoided a shutout when Gregg Crisp won a decision over Leo Anaya, 4-2, in the 189-pound match. Crisp improved to 13-4 and 5-0, and Anaya fell to 20-7-1. That would be the only shining moment for Westlake (3-9, 1-4). Channel Islands’ Tony Reyes pinned Jason Labarth, a freshman, in 1:40 to end the match in much the same way it had started.


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