A season that included a runner-up finish in the Rio Hondo League, team qualification to the CIF Southern Section Division VI Dual-Meet Wrestling Championship and individual success at the league finals and CIF-SS Eastern Division Championships came to end for La Cañada High on Friday afternoon.
Senior heavyweight Guillermo Padilla, the Spartans’ last hope for advancement to the CIF State Meet in Bakersfield, suffered two defeats and was eliminated from further postseason contention on the first day of the CIF-SS Masters Meet in Ontario.
“I’m really proud of what this team was able to accomplish this season even with all the injuries and adversity we had,” Spartans first-year Coach Justin Luthey said. “Guillermo didn’t wrestle at 100 percent, not even close.
“He tore a ligament in his right hand during the football season and I honestly didn’t even think I’d have him this year. He showed me a lot.”
Padilla, who grabbed the last qualifying spot by taking fifth at last week’s CIF Eastern Division finals at Perris Citrus Hill High, opened with quite a formidable opponent in state second-ranked Nour Abdullatif of Eleanor Roosevelt.
Abdullatif, who had pinned every single postseason opponent he’s faced this year, was unable to claim a fall versus Padilla, and instead settled for a 10-4 victory.
“I think that Abdullatif guy has pinned everyone this year, I’m not even sure he has a decision,” Luthey said. “So, to start off against that guy and then not get pinned, hey, that’s an accomplishment.”
The loss, however, had Padilla teetering on the brink of elimination .
The Spartans two-sport star did, though, extend his season by pinning Lakewood’s David Zavala in 3:12 in the first round of consolation bracket action.
Padilla’s victory then gave the 285-pounder a rare chance at revenge as he ran into San Jacinto junior Gilbert Johnson.
The duo met a week earlier and Johnson stunned the second-seeded Padilla with a 7-2 victory that paved Johnson’s way toward an Eastern Division championship.
A week later, and Padilla (8-4) promptly ended Johnson’s season with a pin in 3:29.
“Guillermo really wanted that win,” Luthey said. “He really thought he could have beaten the San Jacinto guy last week and proved it this week.”
The victory served as Padilla’s highlight, as the La Cañada senior fell in the last consolation bout of the day by being pinned by Glendora’s Ryan Padilla in 3:43.
“Guillermo was on his way to win and then he got caught and that was it,” Luthey said. “That was obviously a disappointing end.”
Also disappointing was a last-minute scratch of La Cañada 182-pounder Alex Bache (27-4), who finished third at the Eastern Division Championships.
Bache was hospitalized with an undisclosed illness and was forced to end his season.
“What I can say it that Alex is OK now, but again, it’s really tough for him,” Luthey said. “He wanted to be here and it would only take a trip to the hospital to stop him.”