Ventura Pins Tie on Highland


Ventura and Highland high schools, the region’s top wrestling programs, met for the first time on Tuesday night and left those in attendance eagerly yearning for a rematch.

Highland (7-2-1), ranked No. 2 behind the Cougars, won four of the first five bouts, but Ventura rallied in the upper weights and the two teams clawed to a 33-33 nonleague tie at Ventura.

Ventura (0-0-1), buoyed by consecutive pins from Brian Giroux at 189 pounds and Andrew Mata at 215, took a 32-27 lead going into the final match.


Giroux, a substitute in place of Bobby Taylor, who was out with the flu, pinned Jason Kenney in 22 seconds.

But, Tony Callahan of Highland, normally the starter at 215, pinned heavyweight Shane Nautu in 38 seconds to salvage the tie.

Callahan was a replacement for starter Paul Soto. Soto, a linebacker for the Bulldogs’ football team which reached the quarterfinals of the Southern Section Division III playoffs, rejoined the team last week and is expected to compete at the Quartz Hill tournament this weekend.

“My heavyweight made a mistake,” co-Coach Mike Colin of Ventura said. “All he had to do was stay off his back but he wanted to win so bad. He made a mistake and we’ll go over it [today] in the practice room.”

But it was a match Ventura was fortunate to be in at the end.

Highland stormed out to the lead and set the tone when Mike Estrada pinned Robert Bermudez in 58 seconds at 103 pounds.

After Daniel Gonzalez of Ventura took an 8-6 sudden-death overtime decision over Jeremy Friedman, the Bulldogs won the next three decisions.


In the 125-pound match, Jason Howell of Highland rallied from a 3-2 deficit and pinned Andy Webber with 36 seconds left in the final period.

Greg Sturdyven followed at 130 with an escape in the final 50 seconds for a 5-4 decision over Enrique Cardona of Ventura.

However, Nick Taminich gave Ventura the spark it needed at 135 pounds, surviving a near-fall with 1:20 remaining in the first period and rebounding to pin Russ Alleman of Highland in the second period.

With the momentum shifted, Ventura won three of the next four matches, getting decisions from Sam Haycox at 145 and David Lopez at 160, and a pin from Tim Eckberg at 152.

“I knew we had some weaknesses at the upper weights,” Coach Mike Young of Highland said. “But to hang with them, I’m proud of this team. It was a great match to attend as a spectator. Ironically, this was the one night we didn’t bring a video camera.”