There are those who will remember a time when the CIF Southern Section Masters wrestling meet was held at Temecula Valley High.
None of the participants in this year’s CIF State-qualifying meet, however, are accustomed to the venue.
For the last two seasons, the Masters had taken place at Citizens Business Bank Arena in Ontario. There was a certain level of grandeur that came with that.
It was a palace, a prize worthy of putting on the final showcase of the section’s top wrestlers. There were eight mats laid out across the arena floor, plus the requisite Jumbotron to further place a spotlight on the competitors.
For the supporters, there was ample parking and seating. The viewers had the ability to move closer to whichever match they chose.
Temecula Valley was the venue of choice prior to the Citizens Business Bank Arena, but the present-day competitors do not know any better. The expectation is that they should have wound up on a bigger stage than at another high school.
CIF officials said that the Masters meet was forced to relocate due to overbooking.
“It works, but it doesn’t feel like Masters,” Edison’s Jared Williams said on Friday, the first day of the two-day meet. “It just feels like a regular tournament.
“I’m hanging out with my friends. It doesn’t have that serious kind of feeling that I had last year. It was very competitive, and nobody was really talking to each other that much. The atmosphere was a lot different.”
Williams wrestled at Masters for the first time in his career as a junior with Manhattan Beach Mira Costa last season. He placed fourth at 145 pounds.
In his senior campaign, Williams remains alive for the 152-pound championship. He is into the semifinals after posting a pin, a technical fall and a major decision.
“I’m not a very big pinner, but I like to get a lot of points up on the board,” Williams said. “That’s just how I wrestle.
“My private coach Bubba Jenkins has always told me, ‘Don’t pin anybody. You’ve got to tech them all.’”
The top nine placers at Masters will advance to the state meet, which will be held at Rabobank Arena in Bakersfield on March 2 and 3.
Chargers senior Elijah Palacio also has had tremendous success in the CIF postseason. He picked up his third divisional title in the Southern Division finals last weekend. As a junior with Calvary Chapel, he won the 126-pound weight class at Masters.
Edison coach Pete Escandon says that Palacio’s primary roadblock to a state title is mental.
“I think he is talented enough,” Escandon said. “He works hard. He knows the moves.
“Once he sees that he is facing somebody who is ranked above him, he kind of gives that person too much respect. It takes him too much off of his offense.”
Palacio reached the semifinals at 132, scoring two pins and a technical fall.
After winning his first CIF championship, Fountain Valley’s Max Wilner insisted that he remains hungry. The Barons freshman scored a go-ahead takedown in the final 10 seconds of his last match of the day to reach the semifinals.
“I just have to keep moving and take it one match at a time,” Wilner said. “Even though I’m taking it one match at a time, I’m already aiming at the finals.”
Barons freshman Dylan Zotea (126) fights on in consolation. He went 3-1, with two of those wins coming in the battle-back scenario.
Marina’s John McCoy (145) and Danny Escamilla (285) were eliminated. McCoy earned a decision in his first match before dropping his next two.
Fountain Valley’s Trenton Ching (160) and Jacob Taub (170) went 0-2 in their first appearance at Masters.
CIF Southern Section Masters
At Temecula Valley High
First round – D. Zotea (Fountain Valley) pins Romney (Simi Valley), 1:00.
Second round – Morales (Downey) dec. D. Zotea (Fountain Valley), 6-4.
Second consolation – D. Zotea (Fountain Valley) pins Beringer (Vista Murrieta), 4:32.
Third consolation – D. Zotea (Fountain Valley) dec. Magana (Servite), 12-5.
First round – Palacio (Edison) pins Fanucci (Beverly Hills), 3:40.
Second round – Palacio (Edison) tech. fall Blasius (Sultana), 16-0.
Quarterfinals – Palacio (Edison) pins Lucero (Etiwanda), 4:53.
First round – Wilner (Fountain Valley) tech. fall Sarkisian (La Canada), 17-2.
Second round – Wilner (Fountain Valley) maj. Watkins (Orange Lutheran), 15-3.
Quarterfinals – Wilner (Fountain Valley) dec. Perez (San Marino), 5-4.
First round – J. McCoy (Marina) dec. Garcia (La Quinta), 10-7.
Second round – Lopez (Bishop Amat) dec. J. McCoy (Marina), 7-4.
Second consolation – Geiger (Riverside Poly) dec. J. McCoy (Marina), 7-2.
First round – Williams (Edison) tech. Bustamante (La Serna), 19-3.
Second round – Williams (Edison) maj. Rojas (St. John Bosco), 9-0.
Quarterfinals – Williams (Edison) pins Dourseau (Citrus Hill), 0:50.
First round – Pena (Corona Centennial) dec. T. Ching (Fountain Valley), 4-3.
First consolation – Beltran (St. John Bosco) dec. T. Ching (Fountain Valley), 5-2.
First round – Gould (Valencia) pins Taub (Fountain Valley), 1:22.
First consolation – Kim (Mira Costa) dec. Taub (Fountain Valley), 5-2.
First round – Erickson (Carter) pins Escamilla (Marina), 5:40.
First consolation – Rosas (Ramona) pins Escamilla (Marina), 3:45.