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11 local wrestlers advance to the CIF state meet

Fountain Valley's Ryland Whitworth, right, wrestles at Five Counties Tournament at Fountain Valley High School on Jan. 15.
Fountain Valley’s Ryland Whitworth, right, wrestles Gilroy’s Cody Merrill in the 195-pound championship match of the Five Counties Tournament at Fountain Valley High School on Jan. 15. Whitworth was one of six Fountain Valley wrestlers who qualified for the CIF State meet.
(Kevin Chang / Staff Photographer)

Sunset Conference wrestling has risen to another level, a conclusion verified by the results of the CIF Southern Section Masters Meet on Saturday at Sonora High School.

The conference produced 11 qualifiers for the CIF State individual wrestling championships, which will take place Feb. 24-26 at Rabobank Arena in Bakersfield.

Fountain Valley led the way, sending six wrestlers on to state. Junior TJ McDonnell starred, earning a 9-3 decision over Cathedral City’s Isaiah Morales in the 182-pound final.

“That’s been the goal for a long time,” McDonnell said of his prospects to win a state title. “I’m here to do that. It’s just a stepping stone on the way to the state title.”

As for six Barons making the state meet, he added, “I think it all comes down to a decision of how bad you want it early on and what you’re willing to do beforehand to get there.”

The top nine placers in each weight class qualified for the state meet. Senior Sean Solis (132 pounds, seventh) will be making the trip for the third time in his career, a perfect qualification record, as the individual wrestling postseason was not contested last season due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Also from Fountain Valley, senior Zach Parker (145, third) made state for the second time. It will be the first time for senior Kade Ayres (138, fifth) and sophomores Ryland Whitworth (195, second) and Hercules Windrath (152, ninth).

“It means a lot to be able to come together as a team and make it this far,” Ayres said. “Also, I’m glad I was able to one-up my brother and place better than him at Masters.”

Ayres’ older brother, Karson, was a ninth-place qualifier for state in the 2017 Masters Meet.

Three locals performed under pressure in the pivotal ninth-place matches, securing the final bid into the state meet for their weight classes. Marina did it twice, an accomplishment achieved by two very close friends in juniors Adrian Jimenez (106) and Haden Hernandez (120).

“I didn’t think that I was going to make it to state,” a grateful Jimenez said, thanking his coaches and Hernandez, who is his sparring partner. “This year is like the first year that I really wrestled, because I started sophomore year, but we didn’t do anything at all because of COVID, so I’m just thankful for everything.”

Hernandez’s match included even further drama, as he earned a 6-4 decision over Santa Ynez’s Thomas Johnson in sudden-death overtime.

“I thought I took him down the first shot, but the ref didn’t want to [call it],” Hernandez said. “Just had to keep going, eventually did it.”

The Vikings also had senior Ryan Escamilla qualify with a fifth-place finish at 220 pounds.

Corona del Mar will be sending senior Luke Villaluz (138, eighth) and sophomore Eugenio Franco (195, fifth) to the state meet, both of whom are first-time qualifiers.

“I honestly can’t wait,” said Villaluz, who is from Connecticut. “I’ve been dreaming about that ever since I moved here. I never thought I would make it to state. I literally said that to one of my coaches before I moved, like a month before. … Freshman me would be pretty proud.”

Estancia’s Zach Maxwell narrowly missed making it an even dozen local wrestlers going to state, as he dropped the 138-pound ninth-place match to Calvary Chapel’s Jack Estevez 8-2.

CIF Southern Section Masters Meet

At Sonora High School

Team Results

1. Temecula Valley 243.5; 2. Palm Desert 239.5; 3. Calvary Chapel 199; 4. St. John Bosco 190.5; 5. Fountain Valley 121; 6. Walnut 114.5; 7. Northview 92; 8. Esperanza 78.5; 9. Chaminade 77.5; 10. Yucaipa 60.5; 20T. Marina 38; 35T. Corona del Mar 25; 85T. Estancia 5; 104T. Laguna Beach 3; 116T. Newport Harbor 2; 131T. Costa Mesa 0

Championship Matches

106 – Isaiah Quintero (El Dorado) pins Ronnie Ramirez (Walnut), 3:36.

113 – Christian Garcia (Walnut) dec. Arturo Carranza (Arlington), 5-3.

120 – Ethan Perryman (Temecula Valley) major Richard Murillo (Canyon Springs), 16-7.

126 – Brock Mantanona (Palm Desert) dec. Zeth Romney (Chaminade), 6-4.

132 – Fernando Barreto (Walnut) dec. Devin Avedissian (Temecula Valley), 11-4.

138 – Beau Mantanona (Palm Desert) pins Marcus Medina (Servite), 1:10.

145 – Alec Peralta (Temecula Valley) dec. Koa Ruiz (Calvary Chapel), 1-0.

152 – Nicco Ruiz (St. John Bosco) dec. Mark Takara (Temecula Valley), 6-1.

160 – Luke Gayer (Calvary Chapel) dec. Manuel Gaitan (Temecula Valley), 3-2 OT.

170 – Erik McCown (Palm Desert) pins Evan Gilbert (Calvary Chapel), 2:37.

182 – TJ McDonnell (Fountain Valley) dec. Isaiah Morales (Cathedral City), 9-3.

195 – Sonny Kling (Palm Desert) dec. Ryland Whitworth (Fountain Valley), 5-1.

220 – Caleb Vanbuskirk (Palm Desert) pins Ryan Arrington (San Marino), 1:37.

285 – Daniel Herrera (Palm Desert) tech. fall Angelo Franco (Serrano), 15-0.

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