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Arana Overcomes Fatigue, Wins City Championship

February 25, 1996|VINCE KOWALICK | TIMES STAFF WRITER

WOODLAND HILLS — Jesus Arana of San Fernando High finally knows what it feels like to be a City Section wrestling champion.

"This is the happiest moment of my life," Arana said.

For four others clutching medals following the City finals Saturday night at El Camino Real, it was a case of been there, done that. Still, for the four repeat champions who again are headed to next weekend's State finals in Stockton, jubilation was hard to contain.

"Feels good," said senior Willie Jackson of Monroe. "Feels real good."

Jackson, champion last season at 160 pounds, leaped into the air after pinning Jared Gabin of Granada Hills in 3 minutes 5 seconds to win the 171-pound title. Repeat champions Alfonso Brizuela of Monroe (145), Tim Imada of Granada Hills (152) and heavyweight Jeff Macrea of El Camino Real--all seniors--were among nine area wrestlers to win championships.

Jesus Rivera of El Camino Real was selected the tournament's outstanding wrestler after pinning top-seeded Andre Bazan of Bell in 54 seconds in the 112-pound final.

Bell High, with five individual champions, placed first in the team competition with 205 points to claim its third championship in the past four years.

Defending champion El Camino Real (168) finished second, followed by San Fernando (146), Granada Hills (114 1/2), Chatsworth (72), Monroe (68 1/2), Canoga Park (44) and Birmingham (34).

Arana (27-3), a City runner-up last season by the margin of one point, defeated Aldo Ybarra of Bell, 3-2, for the 160-pound title in the most tightly contested of 14 title matches. After, Arana raised his arms but was visibly fatigued.

"I've been sick all week," Arana said. "My mouth is dry. I was tired before I got out there. But I got my takedown when I needed it.

"This feels so good. It means everything to be able to wear the San Fernando uniform."

As expected, Imada, Brizuela and Macrea had little trouble with their opponents.

Macrea (34-2), who outmaneuvered Gabriel Rendon of Bell for a 5-3 victory, appeared in control from the start. But the going was tougher than it appeared, Macrea said.

"Everyone expects me to come out here and pin him," Macrea said. "But I know you gotta work a guy before you can pin him."

Imada (27-2) overpowered Juan Avila of Bell, 9-1.

"I've wrestled him before, so I have his moves down," Imada said. "I've had experience with all these guys."

Brizuela (29-2) claimed his third consecutive City title by overpowering Saul Huezo of Granada Hills, 20-4.

"It was easier this year because I know what it takes," Brizuela said. "It takes six minutes of wrestling without stopping, whether you're winning or losing."

Jackson appeared stunned when Gabin recorded a first-period takedown to assume a 2-0 lead. But he quickly pulled even before rolling Gabin on his back for the second-period pin.

The victory was Jackson's fifth in his career over Gabin.

"He's good," Jackson said. "Every year he gets a little bit better. But I get stronger."

Andy Moro of San Fernando defeated Vinh Wells of El Camino Real, 5-1, in the 119-pound final. But brother Eddie Moro was pinned by senior Jose Parra of Bell in 5:02 in the 125-pound match.

In other finals, Melkon Melkonian of Granada Hills (189) pinned Alex Luna of San Fernando in 2:35.

Leo Perez of Chatsworth (130) defeated Scott Schweibish of El Camino Real, 5-2.

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