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VALLEY / VENTURA COUNTY SPORTS

Area Features Quality Over Quantity at State Meet

Wrestling: Three Southern Section and a dozen City competitors head to Stockton to face top competition.

March 02, 2001|DANNY SCHUMACHER | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Just three wrestlers from the region survived the Southern Section Masters meet to qualify for the state championships, which begin today at University of the Pacific in Stockton.

But while the region uncharacteristically lacks numbers, there is quality.

Dan Kunkes of Simi Valley High, Camarillo's Ralph Garcia and Caleb Bautista of Rio Mesa have competed against the state's best all season and placed consistently at top tournaments.

Placing in the top eight at the Masters meet also provided the trio valuable preparation for the state tournament.

"The thing about the Southern Section Masters is that it's not as tough as the state tournament, but it's the next best thing," Rio Mesa Coach Todd Stoke said.

All three could contend for top-eight finishes at the competition, which begins at 8 a.m. today and continues Saturday.

Bautista was eighth in the 125-pound weight class at the Masters, but he finished second at the highly regarded Reno tournament earlier in the season.

The senior is 34-12 this season and 142-40 in his career.

He narrowly missed qualifying for the state tournament last season. Illness forced Bautista to miss two practices the week before the Masters meet.

Garcia (189 pounds) is ranked No. 8 in the state by wrestlereport.com and could face Mazi Burke of North Torrance for the fifth time.

Burke pinned Garcia last week to even the season series at 2-2. Garcia, 44-6, defaulted his final match and settled for sixth at the Masters.

It was the first time this season Garcia was pinned. His other loss to Burke came in overtime.

"I just got caught," Garcia said. "I didn't see it coming. He was leaning on me and we hit the ground. I was probably only [on my back] for about five seconds."

Garcia and Burke would meet in the quarterfinals.

Kunkes is the second Simi Valley heavyweight to advance to the state tournament in four years.

Chad Troxler finished third for the Pioneers in 1997.

Conditioning has been key for Kunkes, who is 43-6.

"He picked up on the idea, 'get in shape,' " Simi Valley Coach Guy Greene said. "If a guy makes a mistake, he capitalizes, and he doesn't make any mistakes."

San Fernando's Will German is the only unbeaten wrestler in the region at 22-0, but his winning streak could end in the first round.

German, a junior making his third trip to the state meet, opens with Keith Ille of Hughson.

Ille was third in the state at 160 pounds last season. He was second at last week's Sac-Joaquin Section championships.

However, Ille has been competing only for the past month because of injuries.

Eleven other City Section champions from the Valley have qualified for state.

(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX / INFOGRAPHIC)

AT A GLANCE

Wrestlers from the region competing in the high school state championships in Stockton today and Saturday:

*--*

Name School Wt. Class Juan Alvarado Canoga Park 103 Cory Lee El Camino Real 112 Victor Solano San Fernando 119 Caleb Bautista Rio Mesa 125 Andranik Darmandzhyan Birmingham 130 Vlad Kochiev Birmingham 135 Ramon Perry San Fernando 145 Fritz Javellana Granada Hills 152 Conrad Silva San Fernando 160 Will German San Fernando 171 Rene Herrera San Fernando 189 Ralph Garcia Camarillo 189 Phil Daniels-Hernandez El Camino Real 215 Mike Kushmatsian Birmingham HW Dan Kunkes Simi Valley HW

*--*

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