Members of the Menlo-Atherton and Palo Alto wrestling teams will be busy for one more week after four local athletes pinned down top-three finishes at Saturday's Central Coast Section Championships at Independence High in San Jose. All four qualified for the CIF State Meet this weekend in Bakersfield.
Menlo-Atherton claimed its first boy's individual CCS champ since 1988 as senior Andre Delagnes defeated Gilroy's Victor Olmos in the 120-pound finals, 4-3.
The match was closely contested throughout. With the score tied 2-2 in the third period, Olmos escaped from bottom to pull ahead 3-2, but Delagnes secured the win with a takedown in the final few seconds. He was seeded second and Olmos was seeded No. 1.
"As the takedown was awarded, the crowd erupted with cheers and applause," said M-A coach Peter Wright. "Delagnes finished second in the CCS last year to Olmos by a similar one-point margin, and was absolutely elated to flip the script this time around."
On his way to the championship, Delagnes pinned two opponents, defeated a third by a score of 7-1 and then won an overtime match in the semifinals against the eventual third-place finisher. He finished the weekend with a 5-0 mark to improve to 33-2 this season.
Delagnes will be seeking Menlo-Atherton's first-ever state championship medal for boys this weekend. He'll have some company after Palo Alto qualified three wrestlers out of the CCS finals.
Kalen Gans finished second at 160 pounds, fellow senior Nick Ortiz was runner-up at 132 and sophomore Andrew Frick took third at 195 to qualify for the state tournament. Junior Trent Marshall took sixth at 138 pounds to help the Vikings finish fourth in the team standings with 103 points.
Gilroy won the team title with 241 points, Palma was second with 129 and St. Francis third with 111.5. Paly finished ahead of WCAL teams like Serra, Bellarmine and Mitty.
"All the boys did an excellent job," said Paly coach Dave Duran "The past two seasons our No. 1 team goal was a top-four finish in the section.We have been in the position to do this three other times, including last year (seventh), and have not quite got it done. We got it done Saturday.
"Our team goals this year included winning the duals, the SCVAL tourney, and a top four at CCS," said Duran, who believes the fourth-place team finish might be the highest in school history. "We won the duals, did not wrestle our best at SCVALs, but we knew we could still achieve our No. 1 goal."
Palo Alto was 10th after Friday's opening round of competition and needed to wrestle better during Saturday morning's consolation rounds.
"We had five wrestlers in consolation -- all five advanced to the next round. We had four of the five advance again."
Duran said the toughest part of the day was the third consolation round of Saturday morning.
"This was the medal round -- you win (and) you are a medalist. Erik Anderson (170) and Ryan Oshima (152) dropped some tough, close matches; Anderson an overtime loss," Duran said. "Andrew Frick and Trent Marshall both advanced. Andrew ran the table on Saturday and qualified for the state meet. Coming off a serious injury in football, he was just cleared to wrestle a few weeks ago."
Frick, unseeded, lost his first match but bounced back and battled his way to a state meet berth with six straight victories while defeating the No. 4 and 5 seeds along the way.
Ortiz and Gans both advanced to the finals as No. 2 seeds, but each finished second.
Gans was on the short end of an overtime match, 3-2, to (No. 1 seed) Sam Hopkins of St. Francis.
"Tough way to lose a match," Duran said. "Sometimes the calls don't go your way. You hope for an opportunity to wrestle through those calls. Unfortunately, we did not get the opportunity to do that."
Duran also singled out the efforts Tanner Marshall, Joey Christopherson, and Oshima.
"Both Joey Christopherson and Ryan Oshima were section placers as juniors," Duran said. "Their season did not end the way they wanted it to. Ryan has battled knee injuries his entire time here at Paly. To be able to even place one time is quite an accomplishment."
Speaking of injuries, Gunn had its share, too. JJ Strnad (220) was unable to compete after suffering a knee injury during workouts between the league and section meets.
Senior league champ Chris Jin (145) had Gunn's best performance at CCS with a fifth-place finish. Only the top three qualified for the state meet. He won his first three matches and made it to the semifinals before finally losing to the eventual champion, Willie Fox of Gilroy. Jin then dropped a 3-2 decision in the consolation semifinals before bouncing back with a pin in the fifth-place match to finish the season with a 29-4 record.
"Not bad for someone who didn't even qualify for CCS last year," said Gunn coach Chris Horpel, who got a sixth-place finish from junior Eric Cramer at 126 pounds. Cramer dropped a 3-1 overtime decision in his final match to the SCVAL champ.
"Our goal is always the same," Horpel said. "I want all our athletes to win matches, place as many as possible and qualify some to the state championships."
The Titans met all their goals except qualifying athletes to state, failing to do that for the first time in eight years. Still, Gunn finished 15th in the team standings with 59 points.
"I am pleased with how we competed," said Horpel. "Most of our athletes were in various stages of having the flu, so we did about as well as we could, considering the circumstances."
Gunn sophomore Cadence Lee registered three pins and one regular decision before dropping a 6-4 overtime loss in the finals while taking second in the 106-pound division at the CIF Girls State Championships on Saturday at Lemoore High in the Central Valley.
Lee, a two-time CCS champion in the girls' tournament, was also ranked among the top 10 in her division against the boys this season. Her performance gave Gunn a 28th-place finish in the state finals.
Menlo-Atherton was represented by senior Kendra Wiley, who finished fourth at 126 pounds to become the first M-A wrestler, male or female, to win a medal at the state championships.
She posted 9-1 and 8-1 victories on Friday before dropping her semifinal match on Saturday. She bounced back to win by one point in double overtime in the consolation semifinals before dropping a 4-1 decision in the third-place match to become a two-time state place-winner.