Eagles send 11 wrestlers to state meet, two Masters champions

From left, West Hills High School state meet qualifiers Lance Briseno (third place, 287 pounds), Ryder Dearborn (second place, 184 pounds) and Kayla Lim (third place, 128 pounds) display their medals following the awards ceremony at last weekend’s San Diego Section Masters state qualifying tournament at Mission Hills High School. They are part of 20 East County state meet qualifiers overall.

Before the 2022-23 wrestling season started, there were already high expectations for the Granite Hills High School boys team. Hopes were running high for as many as 10 state meet qualifiers in a record-breaking season for the East County mat program. Expectations seemed to have been met, if not exceeded, after the Eagles qualified 11 wrestlers for this weekend’s state championship tournament in Bakersfield. Included in the boys field are two individual weight class champions, three second-place finishers and four fourth-place finishers and a meteoric runner-up finish in the team standings to perennial state power Poway High School. Two Lady Eagles also qualified from the girls tournament. Poway remained king of the mat among San Diego Section boys mat programs with an insurmountable 401.5 points. The Eagles placed runner-up with 286 points to edge perennial Imperial County power Brawley with 277 points. The three teams easily outdistanced the rest of the pack in the 70-team field. Rancho Bernardo finished fourth with 174 points, followed by La Costa Canyon with 167.5 points in fifth place and Mira Mesa with 119 points in sixth place. No other team managed to break 100 points, though Eastlake finished seventh with 95 points and Vista finished eighth with 92 points. The top four place-finishers in each weight class in the boys field qualified to carry their seasons into the state meet while the top three individual place-winners did so in the girls field. Last weekend’s San Diego Section Masters state-qualifying tournament at Mission Hills High School made history as the first time that both boys and girls state qualifiers were determined on the same day at the same site. The boys Masters took place last Friday and Saturday while the girls Masters took place on Saturday. A record 448 wrestlers of both genders competed for 98 state-qualifying berths. Overall, 12 mat men and eight mat women will represent East County at the upcoming state tournament. That’s a noteworthy number. Soaring Eagles This will be the fourth consecutive year that both boys and girls have competed on the same weekend at the state meet and the 50th year for the boys state tournament. Granite Hills will send a parade of 11 grapplers to Bakersfield — nine on the boys side and two on the girls side. “This is the first time in school history that we have qualified that many,” Granite Hills head coach Jesse Sheard said. “They wrestled really well this weekend. It was fun to watch them achieve one of their goals. We have the state tournament this weekend and we are planning on having success there as well.” Abram Cline (108 pounds) and Collin Guffey (154 pounds) will go to the state meet as Masters champions in the boys field while Kayli Stanley (133 pounds) will follow as a Masters runner-up in the girls field. Guffey, who is ranked second in the state in his weight class this year after placing fifth at last year’s state meet, brushed aside the competition at this year’s Masters with four pins in as many trips to the mat to improve his season record to 45-2. He recorded three first period falls and pinned Madison’s Tyler Brown in 4:44 in the championship round. Cline, ranked first in the state in his weight class, finished 4-0 on the mat with three pins to improve to 27-3. He collected two first-period pins and a 9-3 decision over Poway’s Devin Bobzien in the finals after placing runner-up last year while attending Olympian High School. Overall, Granite Hills produced six finalists (five boys and one girl). Recording runner-up finishes in the boys tournament were Carlo Arreola (115 pounds), Jayson Suetos (128 pounds) and Devon Wells (140) while Layronz Fraser (134 pounds), Ryan Carroll (147 pounds), Zach Waterhouse (162 pounds) and Keagan Kroeger (197 pounds) all finished in fourth place. Arreola (third in the weight class at last year’s Masters and another ex-Olympian grappler) finished 3-1 with three pins, dropping a 5-0 decision in the championship round to Poway’s Edwin Sierra (last year’s 108-pound champion). Suetos finished 3-1 with one pin and one technical fall while coming up short by a narrow 1-0 decision in the finals to Poway’s Elias Navida. Wells finished 3-1 with one pin while placing runner-up to Poway’s Paul Kelly by a 13-6 decision. Stanley, the 145-pound Division I champion for Grossmont last year, finished 2-1 in this year’s Masters girls tournament with two pins. She lost by a 1:17 pin in the finals to Brawley’s Delarie Juarez. Fraser finished 4-2 in the two-day tournament while Carroll, Waterhouse and Kroeger were all 3-2. Carroll finished fifth at 120 pounds at last year’s Masters while Wells was fourth at 126 pounds. Suetos was fourth at 138 pounds last year while Waterhouse was sixth at 145 pounds. Peyton Wells (third place, 162 pounds) also qualified for Granite Hills in the girls meet. She finished 3-1 with three pins, recording a 2:41 fall against Steele Canyon’s Marina Gonzalez to secure the final statequalifying berth in her weight class. The Eagles had two more wrestlers make the awards stand (top six finishers). Junior Bumanglag (172 pounds) placed fifth with a 4-2 showing while Joseph Smith (222 pounds) was fifth with a 3-2 record and three pins. Royce Harper (184 pounds) finished 3-2 with three pins but missed making the awards podium. Other East County boys state qualifiers include West Hills’ Ryder Dearborn (second place, 184 pounds), Mt. Miguel’s Seamus Boyle (second place, 287 pounds) and West Hills’ Lance Briseno (third place, 287 pounds). Boyle, who finished fourth at heavyweight last year, recorded a 3-1 record with three pins this year. He lost by a 1:26 fall top Poway’s Adam Farha in this year’s championship bout. Monte Vista’s Olivia Davis (second at the preceding Division II finals) was the lone East County female champion at 139 pounds. Davis finished 3-0 with two pins and a 14-0 major decision over Olympian’s Alina Solis, a two-time Division I champion, in the gold medal match. Steele Canyon finished third among qualified girls teams with 54 points to trail Brawley (first place, 120 points) and Mira Mesa (second place, 66 points). The Lady Cougars netted two state qualifiers: Kennedi Jones (172 pounds) and Faith Manis (191 pounds), both with secondplace finishes. Manis won last year’s Division I title in the weight class while Jones was second at 237 pounds. Second-place showings were also produced by Santana’s Amber Spencer (145 pounds) and Mt. Miguel’s Emma Contreras (152 pounds). Spencer finished runner-up at 139 pounds at last year’s Division II finals while Contreras was third at 152 pounds. Contreras finished 2-1 with two pins at this year’s Masters finals with a loss by a 5:45 pin to Mt. Carmel’s Melanie Hayslip in the championship match. Spencer also went 2-1 with a pair of pins but lost by a 1:11 fall to Mira Mesa’s Hannah Catungal in the finals. West Hills’ Kaya Lim (128 pounds) and El Canyon Valley’s Honey Orduno Rivas (237) round out this year’s East County girls state meet qualifiers with third-place finishes in their weight classes. Granite’s Bumanglag and Smith, Valhalla’s Arseel Eliya finished fifth at 115 pounds and Helix’s Ames Hoevker finished fifth at 140 pounds. El Capitan’s Riley Jones finished sixth at 122 pounds to also make a trip to the awards podium.


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