YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections


Garcia Masters Foe in His Opening Match

Wrestling: Camarillo ace puts last year's nightmare behind with 12-0 victory and advances to quarterfinals.


FOUNTAIN VALLEY — Not a day goes by when Ralph Garcia of Camarillo High doesn't think about what could have happened at last year's Southern Section Masters meet.

Garcia had a five-point lead with 40 seconds left, but suffered two penalties, then got beat on a four-point move that eliminated him a match short of a berth in the state championships.

On Friday night, the senior sought to rid himself of the memory in the first day of Masters competition at Fountain Valley High.

He defeated Richard Roman of Bonita, 12-0, in the second round to advance to today's quarterfinals.

"Last year I got too conservative," Garcia said. "I was a better athlete than him, but he was a better wrestler. That match still haunts me."

Garcia, a two-time Southern Section Division IV champion at 189 pounds, received a first-round bye and was never in danger of surrendering a point against Roman.

"I hurt my neck a little practicing so I was just trying to stay away from any kind of pressure," Garcia said. "I have some big matches coming up [today]."

A quick takedown gave Garcia (42-3) a 2-0 lead and an escape upped the score to 3-0 before the first period ended. Another takedown early in the second period virtually clinched Garcia's victory.

"I set a lot of goals for myself this year and one of those was to get to the state meet," Garcia said. "[Friday] I put myself in good position to get there."

The top eight finishers in each weight class advance to next week's state championships in Stockton.

Chris Davis of Rio Mesa turned in the day's most surprising performance. The senior, second in the Pacific View to Garcia, beat Mike Keleiohi of Ventura, 9-2, then pinned Mazi Burke of North Torrance in 1:12.

Heavyweight Dan Kunkes of Simi Valley was also impressive Friday, pinning each of his first two opponents in the first round.

Kunkes (40-4) needed only 50 seconds to pin Kevin Lukes of El Modena, then pinned Kyle Turnbaugh of Ayala in a minute.

"I just wanted to get done quick," Kunkes said. "It doesn't bother me going a full match, I'm in pretty good shape. But my goal is to pin everyone."

A week after turning in his best performance of the year at the Division I championships, Tim Eckberg of Ventura picked up where he left Friday night in his first-round match with a 5-4 victory over Mike Brown of Laguna Hills at 152.

Eckberg lost to Josh Williamson of Corona Centennial, 3-1, in the second round and dropped into the loser's bracket of the double-elimination tournament.

Caleb Bautista of Rio Mesa also lost in the second round. Bautista defeated Mike Ohara of Redlands Valley, 4-1, in the first round at 125.

Bobby Taylor of Ventura defeated Ricky Brannon of North Torrance, 6-4, in the first round at 171 and lost to Ty Blair of Dana Hills, 1-0.

Joaquin Real of Ventura lost, 6-3, to Lucas Crecer of Palm Springs at 140.

Los Angeles Times Articles