FOUNTAIN VALLEY — Rio Hondo League wrestling champion La Cañada High looked forward to stiff competition at the CIF Southern Section Dual Meet Wrestling Championships at Fountain Valley High on Saturday.
Competing in Division III, the fourth-seeded Spartans opened the day with a first-round match against Upland, earning a victory in a challenging showdown to advance to the quarterfinal round against No. 5 Ventura High.
Unfortunately for La Cañada, its run ended with a 56-13 loss in the quarterfinal match against Ventura.
“I think we’re proud of our season,” La Cañada coach Justin Luthey said. “We finished 16-2 overall and I think the team is proud of that. We accomplished the goal of becoming league champs, so everyone’s happy with that.
“There were some takeaways and things we learned by wrestling some higher competition that we maybe haven’t seen in a while and that maybe we need to correct going into league [individual] finals and CIF [individuals]. Now we know.”
Spartans 145-pound junior Iman Behshid, 138-pound senior Jaitra Menon and senior heavyweight Ken Kim all finished the day 2-0 and were the only winners in the quarterfinal match against Ventura (Pacific View League champion).
Against the Cougars, Behshid won his 145-pound bout in a 13-2 decision, Menon recorded a 10-3 decision victory in his 138-pound battle and Kim took a 7-0 decision in the 220-pound match.
La Cañada trailed Upland (3-3; Baseline League at-large) by two points entering the final two matches of the opening round. First-round pins from Menon and Behshid lifted the Spartans to a a 42-32 victory against the Highlanders.
The Spartans also received pins from Kim, senior Steven Lee (170), senior David Martoff (195) and sophomore Cameron Fernando (106) in their victory over Upland.
“Upland has some of their best wrestlers in the first couple weight classes and our kids didn’t know that,” Luthey said. “We tried not to give them too much information to psych them out, but we knew we were going to be in a hole. Our upperweights came through.”
The Rio Hondo League individual competition will be held at 1 p.m. Wednesday at Monrovia High.