When David Juaregui of Santa Ana Calvary Chapel wrestles, it's like watching a cat play with a toy.
One of two unbeaten wrestlers in the Southern Section entering the Masters Meet this weekend at Fountain Valley, the senior beat four consecutive 140-pound opponents by technical falls (leading by 15 or more points) before receiving a victory by default in the championship match Saturday.
Juaregui will enter the state tournament next weekend in Bakersfield with a 45-0 record after becoming one of three defending champions to repeat Saturday.
Caleb Flores, a 103-pound sophomore from Covina Northview, and Santa Ana Foothill junior Brian Moreno at 112 pounds, also repeated. Flores was one of six qualifiers from Northview, which along with Chino Hills Ayala had three wrestlers reach the finals. Ayala qualified four to state and had Arman Kucukkoseoglu win the 189-pound title. Temecula Valley had five qualifiers but no champions.
Juaregui isn't the typical wrestler at Calvary Chapel, where every year the team has at least one wrestler who is expected to win state. He is a novice compared to wrestlers with his accomplishments.
Coach Josh Holiday, who won state titles at Calvary Chapel in 1994 and '95, understands the advantage of having wrestled as a youth.
"I had been wrestling since I was really little," Holiday said. "Same with last year's [189-pound state] champ, Joe Williams. We had a lot of tools already coming in to high school.
"But with Dave, he's only been doing this really since his freshman year. So he has the potential to do more than any of us have done because he's still learning. Usually you're done learning by the time you get to your senior year and college. Dave's just getting started."
And he doesn't rely on strength to overpower opponents. He has only eight pins this season. Juaregui would rather beat his man on points and has accumulated 31 technical falls.
"If I have the opportunity to pin someone, I'll pin them," said Juaregui, selected the lower weight most valuable wrestler Saturday. "I wasn't really taught pinning moves. I don't stink at it, but my style is to take them down and beat them in points."
Juaregui was encouraged to wrestle by his eighth-grade teacher, Craig Holiday, Josh's brother.
"I used to be kind of a tough kid and caused trouble in school," Juaregui said. "And Craig would say, 'Oh you think you're a tough kid? Let's see how tough you really are.' And he put me in [eighth-grade] wrestling. I didn't really want to be a wrestler until midway through my freshman year."
The turning point for Juaregui came at the Masters Meet as a sophomore. He lost to Daniel Alejandro of Hesperia Sultana with a state berth on the line.
"That's when I started going crazy [with wrestling]. I lost that match to make it state and it was heartbreaking," Juaregui said.
That off-season, Juaregui enrolled in a wrestling camp in Lake Tahoe. Instead of signing up for one of six sessions offered, he took part in all six.
"Dave worked out a deal where he said, 'I'll stay here all summer, maybe I can clean the mats,' " said Holiday, who met Juaregui while teaching at the camp that summer. "He was like a little rat just hanging around that people couldn't get him out of there."
His junior year, Juaregui started attracting attention. At 135 pounds, he won the Inland Division championship and avenged his loss to Alejandro with a 14-7 victory in the Masters final.
In the state meet, Juaregui lost in the semifinals to Bakersfield's Alex Herrera and ended up fourth.
Determined to get better, he took advantage of an introduction by teammate Yuri Kalika's family to Ukrainian national team Coach Misha Topovsky. Juaregui attended a camp in Kiev and under Topovsky's tutelage sparred with three-time 68-kilogram world champion Elbrus Tedeev.
"That [camp] made a big difference for me," Juaregui said. "I never knew anyone could be that good."
Juaregui is working on it. He avenged his loss to Herrera with a 22-7 technical fall in the semifinals of the Reno tournament.
"Beating Herrera was one of the most important matches for me personally," said Juaregui, who gained the state's No. 1 ranking at 140 pounds after beating Troy Tirapelle of Clovis, 6-4, in the Five Counties final.
But in spite of Juaregui's dominance, he still remains humble and gives credit to other wrestlers whom he looks up to.
"I look up to guys like [two-time state champ] Nathan Morgan from Bakersfield," Juaregui said of the 130-pounder. "He's the No. 1 recruit in the nation. I watch him every time he wrestles. And guys like Joe Williams. I talk to him every day on the Internet and he helps me out."
Juaregui didn't have to wrestle his last match Saturday because Dominic Del Duca from Ayala defaulted after the semifinals. Ayala also had heavyweight Nick Ketelsleger reach the finals, but he lost to upper weight most valuable wrester Alex Mack, a senior from Santa Barbara San Marcos. Mack pinned all five of his opponents.
Flores became one of two Northview champions when he beat senior Randy Espinoza of Santa Fe Springs Santa Fe, 8-5. Senior Sam McGeorge later won the 125-pound title for Northview with a 2-0 victory over the state's top-ranked wrestler, Mike O'Hara of Redlands East Valley.
Ventura Buena senior Benhom Khaki was 38-0 when he entered the 171-pound final against San Jacinto junior Jimmy Stormo, but Khaki suffered a shoulder injury and had to default when trailing, 3-2.