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Channel Leaguers Battered, Bow Out

Wrestling: Taped-up Gonzalez gets closest to a section title but loses in 171 final, 5-3.


EL MONTE — It resembled more of a M.A.S.H. unit than a wrestling meet for the top Channel League wrestlers entered in the Southern Section Division I finals Saturday at El Monte High.

After two days of intense competition in 14 weight classes, only three Ventura County wrestlers made their way to the final round. Only Cristobal Gonzalez of Ventura, at 171 pounds, made it to the mat.

Gonzalez, a sophomore and league champion, was defeated by senior Aaron Santana of El Modena, 5-3. Moments later, Gonzalez (35-8) grimaced while peeling adhesive tape from his midsection.

"My ribs are all messed up," he said.

Gonzalez wasn't the only one bandaged and bruised.

Jesse Bautista of Rio Mesa (130) and Dan Ramirez of Oxnard (215) forfeited in the finals because of injuries. Bautista suffered bruised ribs, Ramirez had sprained ligaments in his left knee.

"All the guys in the Channel League are pretty beat up," Ramirez said. "It's that time of year."

Bautista (34-3), sixth in the state last season as a sophomore, won three matches after a first-round bye to advance to the final.

However, Bautista, who this season has battled swelling in everything from his knees to his ears, was forced to forfeit to Luis Blanco of Canyon Springs after being injured in a 7-6 semifinal victory over Pat Cadwallader of Brethren Christian.

Bautista, a two-time league champion, will advance to next week's Master's Meet at Fountain Valley High, along with the top six placers in each weight class. But Bautista, who placed second at the section finals last season, departed Saturday's meet before the final round, holding ice to his midsection and wincing in pain.

"It's hurting bad," Bautista said. "I couldn't even breathe earlier. I took an elbow in my side. Freak accident, I guess. I'm disappointed. But I'll be fine."

Ramirez (34-3), also league champion, injured his knee during practice this week and entered the tournament against the advice of his doctor.

"He said, 'You're not supposed to wrestle,' " Ramirez said. "I was thinking, 'What if I injured it for life?' I play football, too. But I just said, 'Tape it up.' "

Ramirez defeated Mike Dawasarat of Calvary Chapel, 6-4, in the semifinals before forfeiting to Andy Murphy of Brea.

No one hurt more than Ventura's Bryan Doss (152), who managed to place third with an injury-default victory over Rod Miller of Brawley after depositing Miller on his head early in the bout. Miller was unable to continue.

Doss (35-8), who placed second in the league, butted heads with Carlos Montes of El Monte in a first-round victory Friday and received 11 stitches. He wrestled the remainder of the tournament beneath a protective mask, layers of bandages and heavy swelling.

"It's gonna be pretty," Doss said, unveiling his bandages to reveal a lengthy vertical scar. "But it's my senior year. I gotta place. I'm happy. It takes a lot of dedication, but it's worth it just to get my hand raised."

Gonzalez moved ahead of Santana, 1-0, with a concession escape to begin the second period. Santana recorded two takedowns to move ahead, 5-1, and held off a late surge by Gonzalez, who suffered pulled rib cartilage on Friday.

"You watch that kid," Ventura Coach Paul Clementi said. "He's only a sophomore and [Santana] is a senior and he wrestled him tough. I don't think we could have wrestled that kid any better."

Ventura finished seventh with 97 points. Santa Ana Calvary Chapel won with a record 276 points, followed by Channel League champion Dos Pueblos at 142 1/2 and Rosemead with 125 1/2.

Sal Fesagaiga of Hueneme placed fourth at 189 after being defeated in the third-place match by Dan Kingman of El Modena. Dustin Clocherty of Ventura emerged with a black eye after losing to Dan Sy of Rosemead in the 119 third-place match.

Rafael Cortez of Rio Mesa finished fourth, losing to Chris Meineke of Calvary Chapel in the 171 third-place match.

Bernie Gonzalez of Ventura placed fifth at 135 with a victory over Ryan Gomez of Palisades.

Ventura's Nghiep Dang, second in the league, was eliminated after one victory in the 140-pound class.

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