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High School Wrestling Preview: Fountain Valley hopes to extend its reign

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Fountain Valley’s Max Wilner, left, wrestles St. John Bosco’s Louis Rojas in the 160-pound title match of the CIF Southern Section Masters Meet on Feb. 16 at Cerritos College.
(Raul Roa / Staff Photographer)

The kings of local high school wrestling have no intention of vacating the throne any time soon.

If anything, the Fountain Valley High wrestling team feels that its run has just begun.

Coming off a season in which the Barons won the CIF Southern Section Northern Division individual wrestling championships, Fountain Valley has added to its lineup and hopes to add some more hardware.

“I think the kids are motivated to win another [CIF championship], and they really want to win a CIF dual meet title, as well,” said Dennis Piramo, who co-coaches the Barons with Brad Woodbury. “It’s tangible, right, within the young guys, so now they all know they can win a title.

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“Our goals are to win a CIF title again, then win that [CIF] dual meet title that slipped by us last year, and then make a run at the Masters title this year, if everything works out.”

Second-seeded Fountain Valley was upset by third-seeded Riverside Hillcrest 33-32 in the CIF Duals for Division 3 last season.

The Barons also had their share of highlights. They sent three wrestlers to the CIF State championships in Sean Solis at 106 pounds, Zach Parker (113) and Max Wilner (160). All three return.

Wilner, a junior, has moved up to 170 pounds. The Arizona State commit is the second-ranked wrestler in his weight class behind Clovis Buchanan’s Rocco Contino, as provided by TheCaliforniaWrestler.com.

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At the outset of the season, Fountain Valley High was marked as a contender for the CIF Southern Section Division 3 dual-meet crown.

“I definitely think that he has set the barometer for where we want to start wrestling at, the level,” Piramo said of Wilner, who placed third at state last season and earned the Daily Pilot Dream Team Wrestler of the Year award. “Max is darn near irreplaceable.

“With that, he has brought some other kids that wanted to be in our program, motivated them to come to Fountain Valley and not elsewhere.”

Solis, a sophomore, was named the lower weight MVP of the Cossarek Classic at Westminster High after winning the 113-pound title. The Barons are also excited about freshman Mike Folch (126).

Fountain Valley, which is ranked No. 1 in the Division 4 poll, has also won eight consecutive league championships.

Los Alamitos, Edison and Marina are in the Surf League with Fountain Valley.

Senior Jacob Iida, a Masters qualifier at 152 pounds last season, leads Edison.

Vikings coach Chris Rasmussen said that Marina is in the midst of a rebuilding process, but senior Mike McCoy also made the Masters Meet at 120 pounds a year ago.

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Huntington Beach appears to be a program on the rise under fifth-year coach John Morgan. The Oilers placed third as a team at the Costa Mesa Classic and eighth in the Cossarek Classic.

“This is definitely the fullest lineup that I’ve ever had, from top to bottom,” said Morgan, a 2001 graduate of Huntington Beach. “We haven’t stopped ever since last year. If anyone else took a break, we definitely didn’t. We’ve been grinding hard all season and all offseason, and it’s paid off.”

The Oilers had six placers in the Cossarek Classic, led by the fourth-place showings of freshman Haden Hernandez (106) and junior Cade Haakenson (120).

Newport Harbor is the defending Wave League champion. At the Costa Mesa Classic, sophomore Kai Villasenor won at 106 pounds, while sophomore Giovanni Sabatasso was a finalist at 120 pounds.

“Huntington Beach did really well at [the Costa Mesa Classic],” Sailors coach Dominic Bulone said. “If you look at that tournament, they had a lot of placers. They made a big jump from last year. Certainly, on paper, they’re an early favorite.”

JJ Strapp wins by fall in the second period of the 113-pound match, sending the Sea Kings to a 41-40 win over the Sailors. CdM beat Costa Mesa 60-24 and Estancia 67-6.

Corona del Mar junior Emilio Franco, a Dream Team first-team selection last season, was the top seed in the 220-pound bracket of the Costa Mesa Classic. He went on to win the title, winning all four of his matches by fall.

The Sea Kings beat the rival Sailors 41-40 on Wednesday to claim the Newport-Mesa District title.

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Jacob Potts of Estancia also pinned his way through the 195-pound bracket of the Costa Mesa Classic as a top seed in his weight class.

Costa Mesa junior Cristopher Rosales Ramirez has placed in both the Costa Mesa Classic and the Cossarek Classic at 145 pounds so far this season.

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