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Bryan is Pinned as Best in Region


Three weeks ago, some Southern Section coaches wouldn't acknowledge that Monroe High's Arthur Bryan was the best 215-pound wrestler in the region.

Bryan, the City Section champion, answered his skeptics by turning in the best performance of any area wrestler at the state championships in Stockton last weekend.

After losing in the first round, Bryan rallied to win three consolation bouts before falling a victory shy of earning a medal.

He was 3-2 in the tournament, posting the only winning record by a wrestler from the region. Scott Speakman of Rio Mesa (140 pounds) and Edward Lemus of El Camino Real (119) were each 2-2.

"It is a little bit of a letdown," Coach Tom Jones of Monroe said. "We did have higher expectations."

Bryan lost in the first round to Hemet's Mike Griffin, 9-8. He had a point deducted because of a penalty.

In consolation matches, Bryan handled Fairfield's George Palmer, 12-3, pinned Livingston's Jose Salgado in 4:44 and decisioned Matt Engwall of San Benito, 3-1.

It was the toughest competition Bryan had faced in three weeks. His matches against City Section opponents usually ended in first-round pins.

Bryan's toughest challenge had previously come when he won an overtime decision against Mira Costa's Jon Cordero in the final of the San Fernando tournament in January.

Cordero went on to finish second at the Southern Section Masters meet. Griffin, who edged Bryan on Friday, was eighth in that tournament.

Silverado's Beau Silvestre, who finished sixth, eliminated Bryan with a 2-0 decision on Saturday.

"Both kids were oxes," Jones said. "[Silvestre] was almost an identical wrestler to Arthur, and he beat Arthur at his own game. But it was a tremendously successful season. Our expectations were high, but I don't think they were unrealistic."

Bryan finished the season 45-3 with 36 pins.

Only five City Section athletes have medaled at the state meet. Canoga Park's Jose Barahona was the last to accomplish the feat, placing eighth at 135 pounds in 1995.


Sophomore Willy German of San Fernando (160 pounds) missed three days of practice last week because of the flu, but he was competitive at the state championships.

German lost a 6-5 decision to Miguel Aguilar of Norte Vista before rebounding with an 8-3 decision over Anthony Griffith of Bakersfield Centennial in a consolation match.

Chaparral's Ryan Atwood eliminated German, 5-2, later on Friday.

"I don't think he wrestled all that bad," San Fernando Coach Mike Castillo said of German. "He might have done a little better, but I don't think [the illness] was the overriding factor."

German's teammate, Joseph Michel (112), became only the third City Section wrestler to record a pin at the state tournament.

Michel pinned Joe Streu of San Jose Silver Creek in 50 seconds of a consolation match.


Highland hosts a qualifying tournament for the national high school championships on May 20.

Organized by the National High School Coaches Assn., the tournament is open to high school wrestlers. The top four in each class advance to the national championships on July 4 in Alabama.


Lemoore's Marcio Botello (215 pounds) may have been the most impressive performer at the state championships.

Botello, a senior, pinned his first four opponents and won a 3-1 decision over defending champion Clint Walbeck of Clovis in the final.

"It was very exciting to watch him," said Jones, the Monroe coach. "He kind of looked like King Kong out there."

Santa Ana Calvary Chapel won its sixth team title and moved into a tie for first on the all-time list with Clovis West.


Wrestlers from the region were a combined 12-26 at the state championships.

Orange County schools qualified 37 wrestlers for the tournament. Ventura County had two qualifiers, Speakman and Royal's Chris Rueckert (171).


Dave Exleine, who coached at Chatsworth in 1995, is an assistant coach at Oakdale, located in the San Joaquin Valley. Matt Cox of Oakdale won the state 140-pound title.

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