Before an upcoming match, it is not uncommon to spot a wrestler pacing back and forth along the boundary of their assigned mat.
A look of focused determination comes across their face as they attempt to zero in on the task at hand.
Fountain Valley High sophomore Max Wilner has his own ritual. He listens to a personal playlist of hard rap music that includes artists like Drake, Quavo and Travis Scott.
He walked out with his headphones on as the finalists of the Five Counties Tournament poured out onto two mats for warmups. It would not have been surprising if Wilner were dialing up these Drake lyrics: “Last name Ever. First name Greatest.”
Wilner defeated Lemoore’s William Kloster by major decision 13-4 on Saturday, becoming the first Fountain Valley wrestler to win a title at the Barons’ host tournament since Steele Escobedo in 2013.
“It’s been my vision since my last year of middle school to just become the best that I can possibly be, being that number one guy,” Wilner said. “I saw this coming. I feel like I dominated my way through this tournament.”
After placing third in the tournament at 145 pounds last season, Wilner went 6-0 as the No. 2 seed of the 160-pound bracket to win the title. He had two victories by fall and two technical falls. He added the major decision in the final and a decision in his semifinal.
Wilner put on weight, and his added strength was put on display. He had previously proven himself to be a tough wrestler to score against, but he also scored with ease on Saturday.
“I don’t want to cut weight at all,” said Wilner. “Even though there may be kids that are way heavier than me and are bigger than me, I feel like I have put in enough time and training to where no matter what the size is, if I just train and go out there and wrestle like myself, then I’ll win in a dominant matter.”
“I was three-and-half pounds under this morning, and I weighed in with a cup of coffee in my hand.”
Fountain Valley finished seventh overall and second among competing Orange County teams with 111 points. Sophomore Luis Ramirez and freshman Sean Solis also medaled for the Barons.
Ramirez placed fifth at 145 pounds, going 4-2 in his matches to go on the mat. He received a walkover in the fifth-place match.
“Last year, I was like, ‘I’m just a freshman. I’m not good,’” Ramirez said. “[I was] thinking that I couldn’t do anything.
“Now, knowing that I’m beating those good kids out there, I feel like I can do it now. That’s the mentality that I have.”
Solis placed seventh at 106 pounds, defeating teammate Kade Ayres by a 5-3 decision in the third round.
Newport Harbor senior Austin Osumi placed sixth in the 195-pound bracket. He had three pins and a decision to reach the fifth-place match, which he injury defaulted after experiencing soreness in his left shoulder.
For Osumi, the Sailors’ record-holder for career pins, competing at the Five Counties Tournament for the first time had its benefits.
“I think I gained experience,” Osumi said. “I did more technique here, and usually I’m more muscle. Now, I know that there are people that are really good who I can actually hang with, so it boosts my confidence a little bit.”
Marina sophomore Jared Causse impressed by placing eighth in the 182-pound bracket. Vikings coach Chris Rasmussen said it marked the first time that Causse has placed at a varsity tournament.
Former Fountain Valley wrestler Jack O’Donnell, a Huntington Beach native who transferred to Westminster this year, placed seventh at 138 pounds.