STATE WRESTLING CHAMPIONSHIPS : OC’s Okada and Santana Take Different Approaches to Win


One found the opening day of the CIF State wrestling championships more difficult than he remembered it. The other didn’t know what to expect and wasn’t sure he was doing well at all.

They took different mental approaches to the State Meet, but Tony Okada of Savanna High School and Danny Santana of El Modena made it through to today’s semifinal round.

Okada was a cagey veteran; Santana a wide-eyed rookie.

A crowd of about 5,000 in the University of the Pacific’s Spanos Center watched Okada, a defending state champion, take halting steps early in the 135-pound division.

“Right now it doesn’t seem like my name is doing much for me,” Okada said after pinning Jonathan Fitzherbert of San Diego Monte Vista 4 minutes 26 seconds into their quarterfinal match. “At the Masters Meet (last week), people were backing down.”

Certainly, Okada’s first- and second-round victories looked impressive enough on paper. But neither he nor his coach, Tom Caspari, was particularly happy. They’ve grown accustomed to perfection, especially at the State meet.


“His second match was really sluggish,” Caspari said. “Usually, he wrestles better as a tournament goes on.”

Okada meets Tim Yoshitake of Schurr in this morning’s semifinals.

For Santana, a 145-pound senior making his first State Meet appearance, Friday was a learning experience. A long car ride to Stockton Thursday and an arena filled to the rafters with fans seemed to rattle Santana at first.

Gradually he began to feel at ease, looking strong in a quarterfinal victory over C. Weber of Madera, 5-2.

“In his second match, he looked like he needed to wake up,” El Modena Coach Alan Clinton said. “The first match he was mesmerized.”

Santana meets Kyle Porter of Hughson in the semifinals.

With four qualifiers, Canyon figured to do well here. But by day’s end, the Comanches’ individual title hopes were nil.

Jason Mitchell, a 140-pound senior who was picked to win his division, advanced only as far as the second round before losing for only the second time this season.

Mitchell was beaten by Bret Perrault of Tuolumne Sonora, 5-3, in overtime. They were tied, 1-1, at the end of regulation, but Mitchell was assessed a one-point penalty for spitting while on the mat. Things went downhill quickly after that.

“He had blood in his mouth and spit on the floor and wiped it right up,” Canyon Coach Gary Bowden said. “That’s not the reason he lost. He didn’t wrestle well.”

Later, Mitchell was eliminated in a consolation rounds match.

Matt Padgett lost his 160-pound quarterfinal match, 17-3, to Adimu Madyun of Canyon Springs and moved to the consolation quarterfinals today. Heavyweight Matt Webber and 152-pounder Alan Holmes were eliminated in the consolation rounds.

Tournament Notes

Bill Grant, Monterey High School coach and editor of The California Wrestling newsletter, picked two county wrestlers to win their divisions in his pre-meet forecast. Grant picked Savanna’s Tony Okada to win the 135-pound division and Canyon’s Jason Mitchell to win at 140 pounds. He selected El Modena’s Danny Santana fourth at 145 pounds.

In its fifth consecutive year at Stockton, the State Meet appears to have found a home at the University of the Pacific’s Spanos Center. Meet Director Chuck Chandler of Stockton Edison High said Thursday the CIF plans to stay in Stockton through the 1995 meet.