Usually, La Cañada High wrestling Coach Gavin Williams is happy to send one of his athletes to the CIF Southern Section Masters Meet. There were plenty of years in which no La Cañada High wrestlers were able to qualify for the prestigious competition.
This year, however, two Spartan wrestlers, Chris Bache and Luke Sanborn, are headed to the Masters Meet, which is hosted by Temecula Valley High on Friday and Saturday. Both athletes qualified for Masters by placing among the top-five in their individual weight brackets at the CIF Southern Section Inland Division Individual Tournament at Roosevelt High in Corona last week. Bache finished fourth and Sanborn was fifth in their respective classes.
"It's usually just one [La Cañada wrestler], or none, that gets to Masters," said Sanborn, adding how happy he is that Bache will be with him. "It is great having him with me. He deserves it just as much as I do."
Sanborn had a tough road in the CIF Inland Division Individuals. He faced the No. 1 seed in the 189-pound bracket — Bryce Vinion from Santa Barbara High — in his first match.
"Going against the first seed is really freaky, but Gavin told me to just go out there and wrestle the way I know how," Sanborn said.
Vinion quickly realized Sanborn wasn't an easy opponent. Sanborn looked at the scoreboard with 30 seconds left in the final period and saw the bout was tied, 5-5. He just held Vinion down, hoping to force the match into overtime. Little did Sanborn know that the scorekeeper had entered the wrong score — Vinion was actually winning, 5-4. Sanborn ended losing by that score.
"I'm not saying I would have won if the match went into overtime, but it would have been nice to have that chance," Sanborn said. "Losing that match and realizing I had to work my way through the consolation bracket was pretty scary."
He was up to the task, though, winning his next five matches. Sanborn ended up losing the third-place match, 5-3, to Raymond Sanchez of A.B. Miller in Fontana, forcing him to wrestle Nathaniel Bareis of Compton Centennial to determine the tournament's fifth-place finisher. Sanborn knew a trip to the Masters Meet was on the line.
There was another winning match left in Sanborn, as he pulled out the 2-1 victory, stamping his ticket to Masters. He realizes the next level is only going to be tougher as a fifth-place finisher.
"It could be the same story at Masters, I might have to face the No. 1 seed. I just have to wrestle the way I know how and try to work my way through the tournament," he said.
Bache won his first three matches in the 152-pound bracket at Individuals on points. He lost his fourth bout, pushing him into the consolation bracket. He had a one-point lead heading into the final period and didn't let it go.
"I was not letting this match get away because I didn't want to have to wrestle a third match to see if I placed fifth for masters," said Bache, admitting he was exhausted from wrestling six matches in two days.
The only downside to competing in Masters Meet is still not being able to eat, Bache joked. The sacrifice is worth it, though.
"This was my goal for the whole season, to get to Masters," he said. "It's a really tough tournament, I'm just going to try as hard as I can. You can't have any expectations for Masters. It just has to be your day."