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By Joe Naiman
Village News reporter 

Warriors win first wrestling league championship in school history


Last updated 2/11/2020 at 7:51pm

Village News/Shane Gibson photo

Fallbrook Warrior wrestler seniors honored during senior night, Feb. 6, from left, Javier Montoya, Kevin Sanchez, Marco Alejandre and Carlos Hernandez.

For the first time in school history Fallbrook High School won a wrestling league championship.

The Warriors' 60-24 home victory Feb. 6 against Valley Center gave Fallbrook a 5-0 league record for the season, and the Warriors had an overall dual meet record of 6-0.

"I'm on Cloud 9 as a coach," Fallbrook head coach Cristian Vera said. "We've never had this kind of success."

The Warriors won all five of their league meets despite forfeiting at least two weight classes in the first four and one in the finale against Valley Center.

"The one thing we never lost was the mental toughness," Vera said.

Fallbrook had a 1-4 record in league meets last year, but the 2019 Warriors also had only one senior. Vera noted that last year's freshmen and sophomores, as well as the 2018-19 juniors, worked to improve themselves.

"The difference was everybody on this team had the desire," Vera said. "When everybody wants to be champions it motivates the team do better."

Orange Glen High School was moved from the North County Conference to the Coastal Conference in 2016, but the Patriots remained in the Valley League for wrestling. The Warriors' Jan. 16 meet at Orange Glen began league competition this year.

A wrestler may compete in the weight class immediately above what he scales but cannot compete in a lower weight class. Until the end of the season the Warriors could not field both a 160-pound grappler and a 170-pound matman, so Vera forfeited the 170-pound division.

A season-ending shoulder injury to Frank Greenwood led to forfeits in the 182-pound bracket throughout the league season. Johnny Bermudez was also unavailable Jan. 16, so Fallbrook forfeited the 220-pound bout. Orange Glen had wrestlers in all 14 weight divisions.

In addition to those 18 points by forfeit, the Patriots added 12 points with two pins and six points from two decision wins. Fallbrook won seven of the 11 contested matches, including six by pin, for a 39-33 victory.

"I don't discredit Orange Glen whatsoever," Vera said. "We definitely had our work cut out for us."

Wrestling meets have two systems for points: one for match scoring and one for team scoring for the meet. For each match a wrestler is awarded one point for an escape, two points for a takedown, two points for a reversal, two points for a near fall lasting two to five seconds, and three points for a near fall lasting at least five seconds. (An infraction awards the opponent one point for the first and second offenses and two points for the third offense.)

The team whose wrestler wins a match by a decision obtains three points, although a major decision which means a margin of at least eight points provides four team points and if the margin reaches 15 points a technical fall worth five team points is declared.

A pin, or fall, is worth six team points as is a forfeit which is usually due to a school not filling a weight class rather than for a disqualification, and if an injured wrestler is unable to continue the other team also receives six points.

"One pin is worth two decisions," Vera said.

"We want to pin and not get pinned," Vera said. "They're both very important."

Matthew Kendall pinned his 145-pound opponent 26 seconds into the match and Kevin Sanchez won the 132-pound bout by pin 34 seconds after it began. Pins were also obtained by 113-pounder Ethan Ellefsen, 126-pounder Chris Beltran, 152-pounder Ethan Aguila and 195-pounder Carlos Hernandez.

Javier Montoya won the heavyweight bracket with a 5-0 decision. Although Marco Arias Jr. was pinned by his 120-pound counterpart and Tavian Sorensen lost the 160-pound match by fall, Angel Leon limited Orange Glen's 106-pound representative to a 6-2 decision victory and Uriel Juarez lost a 7-2 decision in the 138-pound match.

"It was a very hard-fought dual," Vera said.

"They rallied together and they did exactly what they needed to do, which was pin and not get pinned," Vera said. "I'm very proud of the boys and how they performed. There's no better way to start off the league season with a win."

Ramona hosted a tri-dual Jan. 23 in which Fallbrook and Escondido joined the Bulldogs. In a tri-dual a wrestler from each weight class competes against his two counterparts, and the scoring is based on the head-to-head results for each set of two schools.

Ramona would end the season with a 4-1 league record, so Fallbrook's 45-27 victory over the Bulldogs was the deciding competition for the league championship. Fallbrook defeated Escondido by a 54-22 score.

Fallbrook forfeited the 170-pound and 182-pound classes against both Jan. 23 opponents. "It's important for us to try to make up that gap," Vera said.

"The best way to do that is to get those bonus points," Vera said. "The majority of the matches that we wrestled were mostly pins."

Ramona and Escondido obtained six points apiece because Fallbrook forfeited the 170-pound class, but none of the three schools had a 182-pound wrestler so all of those matches were double forfeits with neither team being given points. Ramona forfeited the 195-pound weight class to give Hernandez the win, and he also won that match by forfeit against Escondido, whose forfeits gave Bermudez the 220-pound victory and Montoya the heavyweight win.

The 11 contested matches between Fallbrook and Ramona consisted of one Fallbrook decision win, one Ramona decision win, six Warrior victories by pin, and three Bulldog victories by fall.

Cole Mattson wrestled in both the 106-pound and the 113-pound class for Ramona this year and won all five of his league bouts. In the competition against Fallbrook he was paired in the 113-pound match against Ellefsen. Mattson and the Bulldogs were held to three team points as Ellefsen limited the margin of Mattson's victory to 6-4. Fallbrook's decision win was also by two points; Aguila had a 3-1 victory in the 152-pound bout.

A knee injury kept Juarez from competing Jan. 23, so Alex Calvillo was Fallbrook's 138-pound representative. He lost by pin against his Ramona opposition, as did Arias and Bermudez. Leon, Beltran, Sanchez, Kendall, Sorensen, and Montoya all pinned their Ramona counterparts.

"It was a very impressive showing on our end," Vera said.

The win over Ramona was Fallbrook's first since the Warriors were moved to the Valley League for the 2014-15 seasons.

"Ramona has essentially been the team to beat for the last few years in the Valley League," Vera said. "They've always been very tough."

Last year Ramona and Escondido shared the league championship with 4-1 records.

Eight of the nine contested matches against Escondido were decided by fall with Sorensen's loss by major decision being the exception. Ellefsen and Calvillo were pinned while Leon, Arias, Beltran, Sanchez, Kendall and Aguila won by fall.

"They performed very well," Vera said. "All of our wins in my opinion were pretty dominant wins."

San Pasqual fielded wrestlers in all 14 weight classes Jan. 30 when the Golden Eagles hosted Fallbrook, so the 170-pound and 182-pound forfeits gave Fallbrook a 12-point deficit to overcome. Including the forfeit wins San Pasqual won seven matches and Fallbrook won seven matches.

"It was one of the closest ones of the year," Vera said. "San Pasqual definitely gave us a run for our money and they definitely made it a very competitive dual meet."

Ellefsen lost the 113-pound bout by pin but lasted into the third period. The loss was Ellefsen's third this season to Jesse Jimenez-Moore, who also defeated Ellefsen in the Jimmy Hamada Classic tournament Dec. 6-7 and the Jim Londos Memorial tournament Jan. 11.

"Every single match that he wrestled against that kid has been better," Vera said.

Although the Warriors lost Frank Greenwood for the season, his younger brother, sophomore Brian Greenwood, made his varsity debut at San Pasqual. Greenwood lost an 11-2 major decision, holding San Pasqual to four points.

Leon faced Ivan Arriaga, who had defeated Leon by technical fall in the consolation semifinal of the Jan. 4 Mission Hills Varsity Tournament. In the league match Arriaga had a 15-9 victory. "He was able to come back from getting teched by this guy," Vera said of Leon holding Arriaga to three points.

Arias also lost a 15-9 decision at San Pasqual.

"We were able to hold them to a decision win," Vera said of the 15-9 losses.

Two Fallbrook victories over the Golden Eagles were by major decision: Kendall won a 13-4 match and Montoya obtained an 8-0 victory. Fallbrook's other five victories were from pins by Beltran, Sanchez, Juarez, Aguila and Hernandez.

"Having those extra points definitely helped," Vera said. "In dual meets its about trying to get as best a win as possibly can."

Fallbrook ended the match on the preferred end of the 38-32 final score. "Every single one of those guys knew exactly what their role was," Vera said. "They definitely wanted to win more."

The Feb. 6 meet became Fallbrook's second league win over Valley Center. "We've definitely struggled in past years to stay competitive with them," Vera said. "What better way to beat them the second time than to secure the Valley League championship."

Sorensen and Greenwood were among four 152-pound options Vera had, so one was moved up to the 160-pound class. "They both wanted to be in the lineup," Vera said. "They really wanted to get mat time in."

The pin against Ramona would not be the extent of Sorensen's contributions. He increased his weight so that he would be classified as a 160-pound wrestler, which made him eligible for the 170-pound division. That allowed Greenwood to wrestle in the 160-pound class, so the Warriors forfeited only the 182-pound class against Valley Center.

"They both jumped at the opportunity," Vera said. "Brian Greenwood and Tavian Sorensen definitely stepped in and filled some holes."

Although Sorensen was pinned by his heavier opponent, Greenwood won the 160-pound class by pin to give Fallbrook six points. Ellefsen, Beltran, Sanchez, Juarez, Kendall, Hernandez, and Bermudez also pinned their opponents. Juarez and Bermudez were the only two of the eight Fallbrook mat winners whose pins were in the third period. "Most of them were in the first period," Vera said.

Leon and Aguila won by forfeit. Beltran was Fallbrook's 120-pound wrestler that day, so Marco Alejandre competed in the 126-pound bracket but was pinned. Fallbrook's other loss by pin was when Montoya lost to Cameron Fuller, who had pinned Montoya in the overtime period during the Jim Londos Memorial tournament.

"For the most part all of the duals were very, very tough. I don't think this one was any different," Vera said.

Village News/Shane Gibson photo

Fallbrook Warrior Ethan Ellefsen battles his Valley Center opponent before pinning him for a win in the 113-pound class.

What was different is that the win over Valley Center secured Fallbrook's first-ever league championship. "It's a special team," Vera said.

Sanchez and Hernandez were both undefeated in their 2019-20 dual meets. "I couldn't be happier with them both," Vera said.

Alejandre, Sanchez, Hernandez and Montoya are seniors. "The seniors definitely did phenomenal in my opinion," Vera said. "I couldn't be happier with their performance."

Vera denies being the reason for the Warriors' first league championship. "I didn't score a single point in any one of those dual meets. It's 100% on the kids," he said. "They motivate me to want to continue to help them get better."

That will need to be the case, since Fallbrook has become the team to beat in subsequent years. "I also feel there's pressure now to continue the process," Vera said. "It only gives them more motivation to want to be better."


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