FRESNO — Mark Gerardi of Valhalla High School became the third wrestler in California high school history to win three state championships Saturday night as he defeated Antioch's Jason Verduzco, 11-6, in the 157-pound title match in front of an estimated 7,000 in Selland Arena.
Gerardi, who won the 141-pound title in 1985 and the 148-pound title in 1986, matched a feat accomplished by Santa Monica's Laurence Jackson (1984-86) and Sacramento Bella Vista's David Lee (1982-84).
He improved his record to 47-0 by defeating the same wrestler he beat last year for the 148-pound title. But his 1987 victory wasn't nearly as easy as his 16-1 victory over Verduzco last year.
Verduzco took a 4-1 lead in the first period, but Gerardi came back to tie the match, 6-6, with 1:18 left in the third. With both wrestlers upright, neither could gain an advantage until Gerardi finally took Verduzco down with nine seconds left and turned him on his back for a three-point near-fall with four seconds to go.
"I was very concerned after the first period," Gerardi said. "I knew I had to do something. But as soon as I lifted him up in the end, I knew I had it."
John Grubbs of El Camino High was the only other San Diego section wrestler to win a state championship, as he defeated Keppel's Pramin Phatipong, 9-4, for the 108-pound division title. Grubbs closed at 38-2.
Ten other section wrestlers, including three from Granite Hills and two from Poway, placed among the top six finishers in their weight classes.
Darron Gaeir, a 148-pounder from Granite Hills, won four straight consolation matches Saturday, including a 3-2 victory over Sacramento Bella Vista's Dan Hall for third place. Teammate Dave Myers, who lost to Gilroy's Kordell Baker, 5-1, in the 141-pound semifinals, finished fourth, and Tom Vardell, a semifinalist at 194 pounds, finished fifth.
Poway's Brian Woods, who extended Placentia El Dorado's Todd Tomazic to overtime before losing in the 168-pound semifinals, 5-0, finished fourth, and teammate Marty Lewis, a semifinalist at 129 pounds, lost two consolation matches and finished sixth.
Valhalla's Scott Seubert, who lost in Friday night's second round, won one consolation match Friday night and three straight Saturday before losing to Antioch's Anthony Camacho, 7-3, in the third-place final.
El Camino's Mike Grubbs (101), Escondido's Jose Martinez (148) and Mt. Miguel's Eric Stottlemyer (168) each finished fifth, and Monte Vista's Chris Winkler (115) finished sixth.