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VALLEY / VENTURA COUNTY SPORTS | WRESTLER OF THE YEAR
/ RALPH GARCIA

Garcia Threw His Weight Around

April 08, 2001|DANNY SCHUMACHER | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

CAMARILLO — At the start of his junior season Ralph Garcia of Camarillo High wasn't the best in the region in his weight class.

Nearly two years later, Garcia is the best wrestler in the region.

Garcia, The Times' wrestler of the year, competed against the best athletes in the state each weekend, won his second consecutive Southern Section Division IV title and finished seventh at the state championships in March.

He's still reaping rewards, qualifying for this weekend's national prep wrestling championships at the University of Delaware.

"He set goals since last year and he has achieved every one of them," Camarillo Coach Ron Wilson said. "Now he has the opportunity to possibly be a high school All-American."

Garcia, who was 49-8 this season, is the second Camarillo athlete to medal at the state tournament. Charles Sandlin finished sixth at 189 pounds in 1997.

Sandlin was instrumental in Garcia's development. Garcia had the opportunity to spar with Sandlin and Christobal Gonzalez, former Ventura High state-medalist, in practice.

Garcia's confidence and aggressiveness grew with each grueling workout with the seasoned competitors.

"It kept me sharp," Garcia said. "Being in a room with a bunch of wrestlers and being the least experienced, it pushed me."

Tyson Hadduck of Simi Valley was considered to be the best 189-pounder in the region last season. A knee injury cut his season short.

Trying to compete with the injury, Hadduck lost to Garcia in an early season tournament.

Garcia went on to win the Division IV title.

Unfortunately, conservative wrestling cost Garcia a berth at the state tournament.

He was overprotective of leads and he allowed two opponents to rally from deficits and his season was halted at the Southern Section Masters meet.

"This year he was going for more falls than he used to," Wilson said. "He was more aggressive and he tried to dominate his opponents."

At the Camarillo 10-way tournament, Garcia pinned his first nine opponents. He finished with 23 pins.

"I was just a better wrestler this year," Garcia said. "I knew what I could do."

Garcia finished with a 121-26 record at Camarillo.

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