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VALLEY / VENTURA COUNTY SPORTS | HIGH SCHOOL WRESTLING

Sending a Message, Garcia Is on Attack

February 16, 2001|DANNY SCHUMACHER

Overprotective of leads last season, Ralph Garcia of Camarillo High lost two narrow decisions at the Southern Section masters meet and failed to qualify for the state championships.

Lesson learned. Bad news for opponents.

"I gave up a two-point lead and a six-point lead," Garcia said. "I got a little mentally weak, maybe a little fatigued. I don't think I could have learned that lesson any other way."

Garcia, who competes at 189 pounds, has aggressively wrestled opponents this season with impressive results.

The senior is 37-3 with 22 pins and defends his Southern Section Division IV title beginning today at Santa Margarita High. Preliminary rounds begin at 2 p.m. Championship rounds are scheduled for 6 p.m. Saturday.

Garcia has proved himself against the state's elite. He twice has beaten highly regarded Mazi Burke of North Torrance and he has competed in top tournaments.

Wrestlereport.com ranks Garcia No. 8 in one of the toughest weight classes in California.

Sparring sessions with former state qualifiers Chuck Sandlin of Camarillo and Christobal Gonzalez of Ventura have helped Garcia's confidence. Intense weight training has improved his stamina.

"I'm not surprised," Camarillo Coach Ron Wilson said. "He's been focused all year. He's right there with the top wrestlers in the state."

Opponents have had few scoring opportunities. The agile Garcia has developed an impressive repertoire of leg shoots. He has recorded 96 takedowns while surrendering only five.

"He's always in-your-face wrestling," Wilson said. "If a person is going to wrestle Ralph, he's going to be in for a dogfight."

Garcia has become a better finisher and has 10 more pins than last season.

Starting the season strongly, Garcia pinned his first 14 opponents.

"I just try to keep my intensity up in my matches," Garcia said. "Last year I tended to wrestle down to my opponents. I had problems coming back against the better guys. I wanted to win [another section title] this year. I want to take it all the way to the state meet."

*

Will German of San Fernando and Andreik De Leon of El Camino Real tested each other's limits in a 171-pound match last week.

German struggled to breathe after a blow to the ribs, and an exhausted De Leon vomited. The audience rocked the San Fernando gym with its appreciation for the wrestlers' efforts.

Both staggered from the mat at the conclusion, with German surviving a 9-7 overtime decision.

El Camino Real won the dual meet, 37-29.

"You usually don't get a brawl like that," Coach Terry Fischer of El Camino Real said. "There was a lot of hard work going on there."

German and De Leon are expected to meet for the fourth and final time this season on Saturday in the City Section individual championships at University High. Preliminaries start at 10:30 a.m. Championship bouts are scheduled for 6 p.m.

Two-time City champion German, a junior, is 3-0 against De Leon.

In one match, De Leon squandered a 5-2 lead. He was penalized for stalling and allowed German to score on an escape, tying the match, 7-7, after regulation.

"[The stalling penalty] opened the door," Fisher said. "Otherwise it would have been over. It gave [German] hope and hope is a hell of a motivator."

Each City champion advances to the state championships in Stockton on March 2-3. De Leon, a senior, is defending 171-pound champion. German won the 161-pound title last year.

*

El Camino Real set a section scoring record with its fourth consecutive City title last season.

Don't expect the same output Saturday.

The Conquistadores, winners of 10 of the last 15 City titles, are again contenders. San Fernando, a perennial runner-up, hasn't captured the championship since 1991.

Improvement among other City programs has created parity in many weight classes.

Monroe, 4-0 in the City League, could have the greatest impact.

The Vikings have two potential City champions. Emmanuel Jimenez, who competes at 215 pounds, is 25-9, and Steve Huyhn (103) is 23-3 with 16 pins. Sophomore Omar Onofre (112) is 14-5 with 10 pins.

"We're open for some shake-ups this week," Monroe Coach Tom Jones said. "We have a couple of programs that can come out there and be spoilers. I would like to be one of those teams."

El Camino Real's chances hinge on Jeff Ford (140) and Danny Mancilla (135).

Ford, 30-7, was a City runner-up for Granada Hills last season. He injured a shoulder in a loss last week to Fernando Uribe of San Fernando. Mancilla, academically ineligible most of the season, is 1-0.

Cory Lee (112), Matt Roman (125) and Chris Sloan (189) are El Camino Real's strongest title contenders.

Several San Fernando wrestlers have struggled making weight, including Conrad Silva (160). Silva, a junior, is a returning City finalist.

The Tigers could get titles from Victor Solano (119), Ramon Perry (145), Uribe, German and Silva.

*

Simi Valley heavyweight Dan Kunkes is seeded No. 2 in the Division III tournament today at Torrance High.

Kunkes is 33-3 and could face top-seeded Chase Gormley of Torrance in the final.

*

Harvard-Westlake set a school record with seven qualifiers for the Division V meet at Azusa High.

Ben Liebeskind (119 pounds), Matt Fleming (130), Sammy Lorenzana (140), Derek Dummit (152) and Wilson Pollock (160) won Rio Hondo League titles.

"It's just amazing," Coach Gary Bairos said. "We had just 16 [wrestlers] out this year and seven are going [to the Division V meet]."

Of the seven qualifiers, only Aaron Bloch (171) is a senior. Freshman Daniel Rosenfield, a league runner-up, will also compete today.

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