Great Bridge High of Chesapeake, Va., among the nation's top wrestling teams, threatened to make it a tough weekend for Southland competitors in the prestigious Five Counties tournament at Fountain Valley High.
The Wildcats' participation contributed to only four wrestlers from Southern Section schools reaching the finals, but two made the most of their opportunities by winning titles Saturday night.
David Jauregui of Santa Ana Calvary Chapel, in what could be a preview of the state final, defeated two-time defending state champion Troy Tirapelle of Clovis, 6-4, to win the 140-pound division. Defending state champion Brian Moreno of Santa Ana Foothill was the other champion from a Southern Section school, defeating Corey Borges of Hughson, 2-1, in the 112-pound final.
Jauregui's and Moreno's triumphs helped offset the dominance of Great Bridge, which won the team title with 238 points and placed five wrestlers in the finals, four winning individual titles.
"I was definitely disappointed that we didn't have more guys in the finals," said Calvary Chapel Coach Josh Holiday, whose team finished a disappointing ninth with 95 points.
Covina Northview placed the highest of any Southern Section school, finishing seventh with 107 points. Viking sophomore Caleb Flores (103 pounds) took second after losing to Matt Rosen of Great Bridge, 11-4, in the final.
"In many ways, Great Bridge being here makes it a lot tougher," Northview Coach David Ochoa said. "But it's good in many ways because it shows how you stack up against nationally ranked kids."
Jauregui likely will move into the national rankings after his victory over top-seeded Tirapelle, who had won Five Counties titles the previous two years. But Tirapelle was unable to contend with Jauregui's quickness.
"I will face him at state," Jauregui said of a possible rematch with Tirapelle. "I better. He doesn't work like I do. I knew I was going to win, even though I was the underdog. I'm the top seed now and I'll just work hard to stay there."
Calvary Chapel also received third-place finishes from Bryan Osuna (119) and Patrick Aleksanyan (135).
"We had a lot of young guys that got put out right off the bat," Holiday said. "We're just going to have to turn it up from this point forward and start working on fundamentals."
Moreno won his first Five Counties title in two attempts after losing in the quarterfinals last year. He said he felt vindicated after losing last month at the Reno Tournament of Champions, ending a streak of 32 consecutive victories.
"I definitely trained harder for this tournament," Moreno said. "After that loss [at Reno], I realized that I could lose. So I came to this match more focused than before."
Flores and Northview were among the pleasant surprises for the Southern Section at the tournament. In addition to Flores' runner-up finish, the Vikings got a third-place finish by Sam McGeorge (152), a fourth-place finish from Nick Leon (140) and a sixth-place finish from Larry Medina (125).
Medina pulled a major upset when he pinned top-seeded Jordan Frishkorn of Great Bridge, who was ranked fifth in the nation, at the 1:05 mark in the quarterfinals. After the fall was signaled, most the the spectators erupted in celebration.
Chino Hills Ayala finished eighth with 95.5 points, a half-point ahead of Calvary Chapel. Arman Kucukkoseoglu (189) and Nick Kettlesleger (heavyweight) each took third for the Bulldogs.