No fancy explanation needed here. Irvine simply ran out of gas and Laguna Hills had fuel--lots of it--to burn.
In the semifinals of the Division III Southern Section dual meet wrestling championships, No. 3 Laguna Hills defeated sixth-ranked Irvine, 36-17, at Laguna Hills Wednesday night.
Although Irvine Coach John Phillips could explain the score, it still took him by surprise: "They're not a bad team," he said, "but I didn't expect to lose by this much."
Phillips said a tie against University in the Sea View League early in the season put the pinch on the Vaqueros to do well the rest of the season, especially in the league finals last week, which Irvine won.
"There was a lot of pressure to perform, and to keep that up every match was hard," Phillips said. "But we still got this far."
To earn the semifinal berth against Laguna Hills, Irvine defeated Ontario Chaffey, 42-29, and Walnut, 37-17. Laguna Hills handled Corona Centennial, 31-20, and eighth-ranked Sunny Hills, 36-22.
The Hawks made it look that easy all day.
"No one lost to anyone they should have beaten," said Laguna Hills' Mike Greco, who wrestled at 135 and 140 pounds and was 3-0 on the day. "We seemed to gain momentum as the day went on."
At least Sunny Hills made it a contest for a while. The Lancers won three of the first four weight classes before the Hawks swept the next seven. They forfeited 189 pounds and the heavyweight class.
Irvine's Peter Hamilton, with a 15-0 victory at 112 pounds, was the only Vaquero to win a match against Laguna Hills.
Coaches had voiced concern that dual-team play and individual championships, which begin Friday, are scheduled too close together and as a result, wrestlers don't have sufficient time to rest. But Hawks' Coach Cliff Jarmie isn't worried about the readiness of his team.
"We were able to forfeit some of the heavier weight classes, which helps, and the lower weight guys are in such great shape, they'll be fine," he said.
The victory earned the Hawks the opportunity to meet Calvary Chapel in the Division III dual team final Feb. 24. They look forward to the meeting.
"It would be nice to dethrone the State champion," Greco said with a smile. "In reality, I think they're too tough. But we'll do our best and see what happens."
In another Division III semifinal:
Calvary Chapel 41, Riverside Norte Vista 19--The defending State champion and top-ranked team in the state breezed through its semifinal after rolling over first and second-round opponents, Downey, 50-13, and Elsinore, 59-11.
Six of Calvary Chapel's top-ranked wrestlers: Joe Calavitta (103), Shane Valdez (119), Dane Valdez (125), Mauricio Mora (135), Josh Holiday (145) and Ed Mosley (152) were 3-0 for the day and won each of their matches by a pin or a technical fall.
Against Norte Vista, 171 pounder Matt Van Hook trailed 13-12, then won on a takedown with 10 seconds remaining. Van Hook also was 3-0 during the day.
In Division I:
Ventura 30, Santa Ana 25--Despite winning three of the last five matches, Santa Ana could not overcome Joe Camarillo's loss at the 145-pound spot.
Camarillo dislocated his elbow in overtime, losing the match, 7-5. The following match was delayed for 30 minutes while Camarillo was attended to.
However, Santa Ana gave Ventura a run with consecutive victories by David Serratos at 152 pounds, Alphonzo Perez at 160 pounds and Brian Schwarlm at 171 pound.
Santa Ana beat Goleta Dos Pueblos, 38-20, and El Monte Arroyo, 35-24, to get to the semifinal.