SOUTH PASADENA — The next time the Hoover High and South Pasadena wrestling teams meet, they may well be league rivals.
For now, the host Tigers enjoyed a 46-36 nonleague victory over the Tornadoes on Thursday afternoon in a nonleague match in which South Pasadena twice led by 30 points.
“Hopefully, by the end of this year, we’ll be welcoming Hoover to the Rio Hondo League,” South Pasadena Coach Al Shuton said. “They have a team and they’ve been solidifying their numbers.
“As was seen today, they’re competitive.”
South Pasadena (5-6) entered having already competed in several dual matches, while Hoover was making its dual debut in the first year of its existence.
“The one thing we learned is everybody was wrestling up a weight class because a couple of guys didn’t make weights in the lower weights,” Hoover Coach Mark Bitetti said. “Hopefully, our guys will learn that they are responsible with their diets to make weight. We had to wrestle out of order, which made it even tougher than usual.”
The experience differential was obvious, as the Tigers opened with pins in six of seven matches from James Yun (108 pounds), Nick Min (115), Sean Ehrlich (128), Charlie Barrone (134), Taran Daley (140) and Derek Wang (148 pounds) in taking a 36-6 lead.
Hoover’s lone resistance during South Pasadena’s surge came from 122-pound sophomore Arman Arshakyan, who went up, 5-0, in his bout versus Tigers freshman Sam Benzoni before registering a fall with one second left in the first round.
The Tornadoes’ second win came at 154 pounds, as sophomore Arthur Ghukasyan kept his opponent, Tigers sophomore Zach Lyon, on the mat before picking up a pin at the three-minute mark.
“I think we were all kind of nervous, but we got through this with our teammates helping us,” Ghukasyan said. “We did pretty good.”
South Pasadena, however, bounced back with a pin from senior Zach Liershman (162) that was followed two bouts later by the match’s lone decision, a 14-6 major decision, for Tigers 184-pounder Aaron Refuoa that clinched the win at 46-18 with three bouts left.
In between Tigers wins, Hoover’s Jose Abrina picked up a pin at 172 pounds, followed by a fall from sophomore Mesrop Egiazaryan at 197 pounds that pulled Hoover within 46-24.
The Tornadoes won the last two bouts (220 pounds and heavyweight) via forfeits.
“We’re technically a freelance team [as] we got approval from CIF [to wrestle this year],” Bitetti said.
“We’re hoping to get into this league and we’re going to keep working with the CIF to make that happen. They want it to happen. We want it to happen. Everyone wants this, so we’re hoping it happens.”