Upperweights reign at Rio Hondo League wrestling finals for La Cañada High

MONROVIA — Perhaps as expected, the La Cañada High wrestling program was consistent to a fault at Saturday afternoon’s Rio Hondo League individual wrestling championships at Monrovia High.

On a day in which the Spartans dominated the upperweights in winning four championships, second overall to the six titles won by powerful San Marino, there was still a feeling that perhaps more could have been accomplished, especially at the middle and lowerweights.

In any event, the Spartans still qualified eight wrestlers to the CIF Southern Section Eastern Division Individual Wrestling Championships at Perris Citrus Hill High, with the two-day tournament beginning Feb. 21.

What is unknown is if La Cañada, the Rio Hondo League team runner-up with a 4-1 record, will participate at the CIF Southern Section Division VI Dual Meet Wrestling Championships at Redondo Union High on Feb. 8.

The 10th-ranked Spartans applied for one of five at-large berths within the division and will be informed if they have been selected when the pairings are announced by the CIF office on Thursday at 1 p.m.

“We’re hoping to get that bid and I think we deserve it. We wrestled well this season,” La Cañada first-year Coach Justin Luthey said before making a near 180. “As for today, we did not wrestle well.

“In fact, we kind of did what was expected and that’s disappointing. I thought we’d have some other guys step up like the younger guys and it didn’t happen. The older guys, the seniors did what they were supposed to and I thought others would follow their lead.”

Two such Spartans seniors followed each other’s cue in 220-pounder Christian Tichon and heavyweight Guillermo Padilla.

Tichon claimed the league’s 220-pound crown when he pinned South Pasadena’s Aaron Phillips in 1:36.

“I’ve been waiting for this since my sophomore year,” said Tichon, who took a brief 2-0 lead before applying the pin. “I feel like I’ve kind of been cheated out of it. I got second my sophomore year and I got injured last year. I’ve really been waiting for this.”

With only a two-tenths-of-a-second differential, Padilla also pinned his opponent, St. Paul’s Justin Urquidez, in 1:36 after taking a 2-0 advantage with a takedown all while giggling before landing the fall.

“I haven’t had much of an opportunity to wrestle in league, so this was great,” said Padilla, who only wrestled once during league dual meets because of forfeits, an injury and a field trip. “It was nice to get back out there and get a pin.”

La Cañada’s Alex Bache kicked off the Spartans’ pin party in the 182-pound championship with a fall versus San Marino’s Tino Maese, as Bache raced to a 5-2 advantage before recording the victory at 2:57.

“The goal was to get to CIF and I was able to do that and so were some of my teammates,” Bache said. “I don’t think we did as strong as we would have liked in the lowerweights, but the upperweights did what they were supposed to do.”

Spartans senior Peter Garfield secured a pin when took he down Hoover’s Kenny Garcia in 3:40 in the lone area showdown.

“This is my last year and I wanted to go out with a win,” said Garfield, who at one point led, 7-1, after two takedowns and a near fall. “I was confident I would get the pin.”

La Cañada’s lone setback in championship bouts came at 138 pounds, as junior Jesse Leamon fell behind, 2-0, to San Marino’s Dominic Magana before being pinned in 1:03.

“All I really care about is getting the experience and going to CIF and I got both,” Leamon said. “It’s the journey not the end result and I’m going forward.”

Leamon will be joined in Perris by three more Spartans in sophomore Sean Consolo (106 pounds), freshman Andrew Aghadjanians (113) and junior Daniel Badie (170), who took third in their respective weight classes and advanced.

The rest of the Rio Hondo League champions were Hoover’s Arthur Ghukasyan (160) and Sebastian Ghouliance (170), Monrovia’s Isaac Munguia (152), San Marino’s Sebastian Mora (113), Evan Wick (120), Zander Wick (126), Julian Flores (132) and Aaron Padilla (145) and South Pasadena’s Harry Yun (106).

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