Calvary Chapel's Kalika, Williams Champions

Times Staff Writer

For Joe Williams, victory was never in question. For Yuri Kalika, there were plenty of doubts.

Saturday at the state wrestling championships at the University of the Pacific, the senior teammates from Santa Ana Calvary Chapel ended up in the same place: the top tier of the medal podium.

Williams, the top-ranked 189-pounder in the state and a heavy favorite each time he steps on the mat, cruised through his bracket and then pinned Dustin Rogers of Corning in the finals for his second consecutive state title. Williams won at 171 pounds last year.

Kalika, a highly ranked 171-pounder who has come up short in big matches during his career, exorcised some demons when he defeated Williams Griffin of Madera, 3-2, in his final.

The two champions helped Calvary Chapel finish third in the team race with 110 points. Clovis won with 151.5 points and Poway was second with 141.5.

"To tell the truth, I've had a hard time getting motivated these last couple of months," said Williams, who won every tournament he entered this year with hardly a challenge.

"I figured out that if I'm doing it for myself, then what's the point, so I just try to glorify God. If you do it for the right reasons, then it never gets old."

For Kalika, the taste of victory was sweet. He avenged a 1-0 loss to Griffin at the Five Counties Invitational earlier this year -- a match he thought he should have won -- and a disappointing sixth-place finish at state last year.

His emotional reaction after winning -- arms pointed to the sky followed by an embrace of his father -- spoke volumes about what it meant to win.

"This is all I've worked for my entire life is to win a high school state championship," Kalika said. "This made all the hard work worth it. And getting your butt kicked in practice every day by Joe Williams sure helped."

The biggest upset in any championship match came when Clovis West junior Chris Martinez defeated top-ranked Pat Payne of Poway, 5-4, in the 140-pound final. Martinez trailed, 4-2 with less than 30 seconds left, but he was awarded a point when referees called Payne for stalling. Martinez then took Payne down with one second left for the victory.

John Rojas of Moreno Valley Canyon Springs improved steadily throughout the season and it culminated with a 6-0 victory over Daniel Valencia of Camarillo in the 112-pound final.

Rojas lost twice earlier this year at the Canyon Springs tournament, lost twice at the Five Counties Invitational and lost in the first round of the Southern Section Masters. He avenged four of his five losses this weekend, including a 6-2 loss to Valencia at Five Counties.

"I came out strong this season, but then I slowed down in the middle," said Rojas, the first Canyon Springs state champion since Carlos Blanco in 1997. "This is what I've been working for since my freshman year."

Brian Moreno of Santa Ana Foothill dominated his 103-pound final against Mick Ruis of Poway and with a 9-4 victory became the first wrestler from Foothill to win a state title. Moreno, a sophomore celebrating his 17th birthday Saturday, pinned Caleb Flores of Covina Northview in the semifinals.

It was the sixth tournament victory this year for Moreno, who finishes the season 58-4. He was the Southern Section Masters champion and defeated Hugo Guzman of Santa Ana, then ranked No. 1 in the state, to win the Southern Section Southern Division title.

Arturo Basulto of Arroyo Grande, trying to win back-to-back heavyweight titles, lost, 7-3, to Kyle DeVan of Vacaville in the final.

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