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Aguila wins Carter Classic

 

Last updated 12/25/2021 at 10:23am



Joe Naiman

Village News Reporter

Fallbrook High School’s first wrestling competition of 2021-22 was the Carter Classic tournament Nov. 20 at Carter High School in Rialto, and senior Ethan Aguila became the first-ever Fallbrook High School wrestler to win a weight class championship at that tournament.

Aguila pinned all three of his opponents, concluding the tournament by pinning Ruben Romero of Birmingham High School (Van Nuys) with eight seconds remaining in the second period.

“That was a very good strong showing on his part,” said Fallbrook coach Cristian Vera.

During the 2019-20 season, Aguila won all five of his league matches, placed third in the CIF Division II tournament, and had a 2-2 record in the all-division masters tournament. Coronavirus restrictions delayed the start of the 2020-21 wrestling season, participation quantity restrictions eliminated tournaments, and two positive coronavirus tests caused two 14-day shutdowns of the Fallbrook program.

“It feels really good to be back to somewhat normal this year,” Vera said.

“Last year was obviously hard for all sports,” Vera said. “We got hit harder than most because we actually had back-to-back shutdowns of our team.”

The second quarantine began two days after the first two-week quarantine ended, and the Warriors were prohibited from practicing as well as from competing. “It just murdered our season,” Vera said.

Practice for the 2021-22 season began Nov. 6. “We’re actually up and running pretty well,” Vera said.

The compressed 2020-21 seasons forced many multi-sport athletes to choose between sports. This year the seasons are back to normal, although post-season fall sport activity delayed the wrestling practice of some Fallbrook matmen.

Fallbrook’s water polo team reached the CIF Division II semifinal before being eliminated Nov. 11, the Warriors’ football team lost in the CIF Division V semifinal Nov. 19, and the CIF San Diego Section cross country meet was Nov. 20. “It’s definitely really easier to get kids,” Vera said.

While not all wrestlers were practicing at the start, this year’s program has approximately 30 grapplers. “We’re headed in the right direction again,” Vera said. “I was more than pleased with the turnout that we had.”

Fallbrook returned to pre-coronavirus tradition by opening the season at the Carter Classic. “It’s been a tournament that we go to annually,” Vera said.

Most of the other schools are in the CIF Southern Section. “It’s a nice way to start the season with competition that we don’t regularly see,” Vera said.

A school may enter more than one wrestler in a weight class at the Carter Classic, although if more than one matman is in the same weight class, only one is counted towards team points. High school wrestling has 14 weight classes, and Fallbrook had 11 wrestlers at eight different weight classes in the Carter Classic. Six of those placed in the top eight.

“We actually had a very strong showing there,” Vera said.

Aguila received a first-round bye and began competition against Aram Babayan of Los Osos High School (Rancho Cucamonga). Aguila pinned Babayan 49 seconds into the match. In the semifinal, Aguila pinned Zachary Chacon of Laguna Hills High School with one second left in the first period.

“Ethan is one of those kids you don’t have to worry about working hard enough,” Vera said.

“That kid has tremendous potential,” Vera said. “He definitely has the making of being one of the top dogs in the county in his weight class.”

The two semifinals winners in the double-elimination tournament have a match to determine first and second. Those who advanced far enough in the consolation bracket faced each other for third and fourth, and those who lost the match for a top four position were given a share of fifth place due to the one-day tournament this year and the rule limiting wrestlers to five matches in a day.

Two Fallbrook wrestlers, senior Marco Arias and junior Xavier Pacheco, earned a share of fifth in their division. Arias was in the 138-pound bracket and needed 24 seconds to pin his first-round opponent before losing to eventual second-place finisher Jacob Balingit of Etiwanda High School (Rancho Cucamonga). He pinned his first consolation bracket opponent 57 seconds into the match, won an 8-7 decision, and was pinned 20 seconds into the second period during his match against eventual third-place finisher Isaiah Castellanos.

Pacheco wrestled in the 113-pound division as did sophomore Nick Brockson. A pin 1:29 into his first match advanced Pacheco to a bout against eventual weight class champion Luis Solis of Carter High School, who pinned Pacheco 1:07 after the start. Pacheco began the consolation bracket with two victories by pin, the first 57 seconds into the second period and the second 11 seconds after the start of the third period. Ian Gutierrez of Yucaipa High School won an 8-1 decision against Pacheco in the match whose winner would battle for third and fourth place.

Brockson had a first-round bye and began competition with an 8-1 loss to Gutierrez. His consolation bracket matches were a win by pin and a loss by pin. The results gave Brockson a share of seventh place.

Fallbrook had two other grapplers, both juniors, who shared seventh place: Sylvester Bautista in the 160-pound class and Jon Nelson in the 182-pound division.

This is the fourth high school wrestling season for Aguila and Arias and the second for Pacheco, Brockson, and Bautista. Nelson is a first-year wrestler, and he was also on Fallbrook’s water polo team. “We have some very athletically talented kids,” Vera said.

The Carter Classic was thus the first high school wrestling tournament for Nelson. “He was very excited about it,” Vera said.

Vera was excited that Nelson placed in his first high school tournament after starting practice late due to his water polo commitment. “I couldn’t be happier with his work ethic,” Vera said.

Fallbrook’s other five wrestlers in the tournament were also making their high school debut. Fallbrook had two heavyweight wrestlers although junior Nathan Fang and sophomore Francisco Andraca (who was on the team last year but broke his leg prior to any matches) were both winless. Oscar Espinoza, a junior, won his first 126-pound match before losing twice. Roger Ramirez began his 195-pound competition with a win prior to the junior’s two losses. Derek Yap was in the 138-pound bracket; the junior was pinned by Castellanos in the second period and lost a 10-3 decision.

“Everyone did well,” Vera said. “I don’t know how it can get any better.”

 

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