LA CAÑADA — In its first Rio Hondo League wrestling dual meet of the season, La Cañada High wanted to start and finish strong against an inexperienced and short-handed Hoover team.
Of the six matches that were contested Monday, all were decided by a pin and just two went to the third round.
La Cañada won five of its six matches to register a 78-6 win over Hoover, which forfeited eight matches due to lack of athletes in respective weight classes.
“They fought and I was impressed with all the matches,” said La Cañada coach Justin Luthey, whose team improved to 11-1. “I think it will be different for league when everybody makes their weight, but I was certainly happy with their performance.
“We got put in situations we didn’t necessarily want to be in, but the guys all found a way to win, except for the 120-pound match. I think they showed some toughness.”
Hoover’s only victory came from senior 120-pound grappler Luis Socito, who pinned La Cañada sophomore Leo Metiver with 40.2 seconds left in the first round for the event’s quickest win.
“Right before I stepped on to the mat, my coach just told me to dominate and give it my all,” said Socito, who recorded a take down and two three-point near-falls before pinning his opponent. “What I did before I entered the mat, I had to have the right mentality. I said, ‘I’m going to destroy this guy,’ and, obviously, I did in the first round and pinned him down.”
In the meet’s longest bout in the 126-pound weight class, Spartans sophomore Nick Wu bounced back from a first-round take down against Hoover’s Zachary Acosta to record a two-point near-fall and two three-point near-falls in the second to regain momentum on the mat.
The sophomore took control in the third round with another pair of three-point near-falls before Wu pinned Acosta in the third round for a match that lasted 5 minutes, 40 seconds.
“The kids wrestled tough,” Hoover first-year coach Tyler Claxton said. “All my kids are freshmen and sophomore, except for Luis, so my whole thing is to get out there, get mat time, wrestle hard and do the little stuff right. It’s all going to come together eventually. It’s not immediate, but it will come together.”
Spartans freshman Eli Mulheim won his 113-pound match against Hoover sophomore Raymond Bagramyan with a third-round pin with 1:17 left in the period.
In the 132-pound bout between La Cañada sophomore Chris Toomey-Severino and Hoover freshman Jiro Danetaras was decided late in the first round with a pin from the Spartans sophomore with just eight seconds left in the period.
La Cañada senior Steven Lee battled Hoover sophomore Julio Bermudez in the 170-pound showdown, as the Spartan pinned his opponent after a three-point near-fall with 38.3 seconds to go in the round.
Lee took his opponent down early in the first round, but a reversal gave Bermudez control on the mat with a three-point near-fall. The Spartans senior closed out the first round on a high note with a reversal and a three-point near-fall and carried on the momentum into the following round.
“He almost caught me in the middle of the first round, but I brought it back to a pin in the second round,” Lee said. “I just came off of a tough loss, so I knew this had to be a win for me. I needed to make this my redemption, so I had to stick through and finish it off.”
In the final match between 182-pound wrestlers Ryan Lee of La Cañada and Alexandre Hartouniyans of Hoover, the Spartans sophomore pinned his Tornadoes opponent early in the second round after Lee recorded two take downs, a three-point near-fall and a reversal in the first round.
Hartouniyan also scored a take down of Lee and and recorded two escapes in the opening period.
Hoover forfeited wins to Spartans sophomore Cameron Fernando (106), sophomore Junya Ishida (138), sophomore Alex Mykalo (145), senior Jaitra Menon (152), sophomore Nolan Forshager (160), senior David Martoff (195), junior Ken Kim (220) and senior Adam Burnstine (285).
Hoover was without its top wrestler, sophomore Sarine Mardirosian. The 101-pound girls’ wrestler did not compete as the Spartans did not have a grappler in her weight class.