Four Orange County high school wrestlers will defend individual championships and several of the county's top teams will be competing for titles as the Southern Section divisional championships open today at four schools.
Divisional preliminaries begin at 3 p.m. at West Covina's Edgewood High School (4-A), West Torrance High (3-A), La Puente's Nogales High (2-A) and Atascadero High (1-A). Competition in 13 weight classes continues Saturday at 11 a.m. with finals at 7 p.m.
The top five weight-class finishers in the 4-A and 3-A divisions, the top four finishers in the 2-A division and the top two in the 1-A qualify for next weekend's Southern Section Masters meet at Fountain Valley High School.
The top six Masters finishers in each weight class will advance to the CIF State Championship meet in Fresno's Selland Arena March 6-7.
El Dorado senior Todd Tomazic (30-1), the county's only defending state champion, is top-seeded in the 4-A 168-pound division.
Loara's Nicky Kob, defending 4-A champion at 101 pounds, is seeded second. Capistrano Valley's David Hynan, defending 3-A champion at 148 pounds, is top-seeded in the 157-pound division.
Valencia's Fred Jenkins was last season's 2-A champion at 178 pounds, but the Orange League was promoted to the 3-A division this season, where Jenkins is the second-seeded at 178.
Three county teams will battle for the 4-A team championship--Canyon and El Dorado, each with three top-seeded wrestlers, and Loara, which has one top-seeded wrestler.
The Comanches are led by top-seeded Brett Schultz (33-0 at 122 pounds), Bryon Schultz (34-1 at 129 pounds) and Ken Gominsky (37-3 at 194 pounds). El Dorado should score heavily with top-seeded Kyle Iwanaga (34-5 and the defending state runner-up at 108 pounds), Andy Leon (30-4 at 178 pounds) and Tomazic. Loara is led by Kob (35-2) and top-seeded Brian Malavar (35-5 at 157 pounds). Cypress' Chris Leuschen (34-2-1 at 141 pounds) also is top-seeded.
Hynan, El Toro's Dave Grisafe (194 pounds) and Savanna's Tom Osendorf (heavyweight) are the county's only top-seeded competitors in the 3-A meet. Victor Valley, Mark Keppel and Dos Pueblos are the favorites for the team title.
Orange's Shawn Ferguson (194 pounds) is seeded No. 1 in the 2-A meet, with El Rancho, Rowland, Santa Fe and Schurr favorites for the team title.
The highest county 1-A seeded teams are Santiago's Derek Marino (No. 2 at 115 pounds) and Santos Escanuela (No. 3 at 108 pounds) and Garden Grove's Art Orosco (No. 2 at 148 pounds). Atascadero, with six top-seeded wrestlers, is favored to win its fourth straight 1-A title.