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Lopez, Brockson, Wilson win championships at Kai Atesalp Memorial Tournament

Warrior matmen third as team

Fallbrook High School placed third as a team at the Jan. 27 Kai Atesalp Memorial Tournament at Escondido High School while Fallbrook wrestlers Ricky Lopez, Nic Brockson, and Dan Wilson won their weight classes.

“We just went out there and the guys had a really great day,” said Fallbrook coach Tom Brockson.

“It was all the hard work they put in,” Brockson said. “It just kind of paid off in that tournament.”

The Kai Atesalp Memorial Tournament had been called the Cougar Classic before being renamed after a former Escondido High School wrestler who passed away in July 2023. Nic Brockson was selected as the most valuable performer for the light weight brackets of this year’s tournament.

Team points are given for results in each round, including how the grappler won. Despite only filling seven of the 14 weight classes Fallbrook obtained 135 1/2 points. All of Fallbrook’s wrestlers won at least one match.

“Everyone did well,” Tom Brockson said.

Valhalla, which was second with 160 points, had 11 wrestlers. Escondido, which won the tournament with 185 points, had matmen in 12 weight classes. Eastlake, which brought 10 grapplers, placed fourth with 134 points.

Injuries or the outright lack of an eligible wrestler caused Fallbrook to forfeit weight classes at Valley League dual meets Jan. 18 at Mount Carmel and Jan. 25 at Westview. Fallbrook only had three wrestlers at Mount Carmel, and Nic Brockson was the only Fallbrook grappler who won his match. The Warriors won three of the five contested matches against Westview.

Fallbrook had four wrestlers at the Queen of the Realm girls wrestling tournament Jan. 20 at San Marcos High School. Kayla Bano won two matches while Delanie Stroney and Madelie Mendez each won one match.

Lopez, who is a freshman, wrestled in the 108-pound division of the Kai Atesalp Memorial Tournament. He pinned Valley Center’s Adrian Banuelos 40 seconds into the second period, won his semifinal match with a pin of Hilltop’s Cole Rivera 1:08 into the second period, and won the championship by pinning Evan Baker of Escondido 1:02 into the match.

The tournament championship was the first for Lopez. “It was good to see. Ricky went out there and wrestled hard. He had really good intensity all day,” Tom Brockson said.

A wrestler can compete in the weight division immediately above what he or she scales but cannot wrestle in a class below his or her weight. Nic Brockson, who is a junior, had won the 128-pound championship at the Jan. 6 Mission Hills Invitational tournament. Weight classes have a two-pound increase as of Jan. 1 to account for student growth, and Brockson won the 126-pound championship at the Dec. 2 Carlsbad Invitational tournament.

Although Brockson was eligible for the 128-pound division at the Kai Atesalp Memorial Tournament, senior Cameron Cruz was also eligible for that class so Brockson wrestled at a higher weight. “He kind of stepped up,” Tom Brockson said. “He performed well.”

Nic Brockson pinned Eastlake’s Troy Rivera 1:17 into their match, pinned Angel Dascesio of Guajome Park Academy 20 seconds after that bout began, and pinned Valhalla’s Ivan Rivers 1:16 into their semifinal contest. Brockson won the championship by pinning Grossmont’s Jacob Barnes 19 seconds into the second period of the final.

The light weight most valuable performer was chosen from the champions of the 108-pound, 115-pound, 122-pound, 128-pound, 134-pound, 140-pound, and 146-pound divisions. Brockson received that honor. “He’s doing well,” Tom Brockson said.

The sixth-place performance of Cruz, who is a transfer from Murrieta Valley High School, helped Fallbrook obtain the necessary points to edge Eastlake for third place so Nic Brockson’s competition against heavier opponents helped the Warriors as a team.

Cruz followed a first-round bye with a loss by pin against Valley Center’s Lee Dixon, who obtained that fall 35 seconds into the second period. In the consolation bracket, Cruz pinned Jacob Sorenson of El Camino 1:00 into the second period and pinned Mission Vista’s Michael Hom with three seconds left in the first period before being pinned by Mission Vista’s Nicolas Weiscopf 1:11 into the second period of the consolation semifinal. Cruz faced Escondido’s Ezra Munoz in the fifth-place match; Munoz won an 8-7 decision.

Wilson, who is a junior, won the 140-pound bracket. After a first-round bye, he accumulated a 19-2 lead to obtain a victory by technical fall against Diego Rangel of Escondido. Wilson pinned Mission Vista’s Josiah Jones 39 seconds into the semifinal match. Escondido had two wrestlers in that weight class, and the final between Wilson and Escondido’s Damian Zavala ended when Wilson pinned Zavala at the midpoint of the third period.

”His wrestling is really coming together,” Tom Brockson said of Wilson.

Wilson was behind in points during the final before taking the lead and eventually pinning Zavala. “He kept his composure,” Brockson said.

The tournament championship was the first for Wilson. In addition to the three weight class champions, Fallbrook senior Devin Huntington placed second in the 152-pound class after losing by decision in the final. “We could have had four. We were right there,” Brockson said.

Huntington had a first-round bye and then pinned Kevin Gil of Coastal Academy with 10 seconds remaining in the third period. In the semifinals, Huntington pinned Grossmont’s Brian Stevens with three seconds left in the first period.

“He went out there and went to work,” Brockson said.

During the Mission Hills Invitational tournament, Huntington won the third-place match against Ty Pope of Mission Hills, but Pope won an 8-3 decision against Huntington in the Kai Atesalp Memorial Tournament final. Huntington had injured his shoulder during the Jan. 12-13 Temecula Valley Battle for the Belt tournament at Temecula Valley High School and missed several practices as well as the Jan. 18 and Jan. 25 dual meets.

Jacob Sorden placed fifth in the 122-pound class. The junior pinned Escondido’s Nikki Cuevas 34 seconds into their first-round match. Brandon Eilers of Rancho Buena Vista pinned Sorden 25 seconds into the second period. Sorden began consolation bracket competition by pinning Brian Flores of Guajome Park Academy 1:32 into the second period and then pinning Valley Center’s Hector Guadarrama with 13 seconds left in the first period. In their consolation semifinal, Valhalla’s Uriah Hawkins pinned Sorden at the end of the second period. Cuevas was unable to face Sorden in the fifth-place match, so Sorden won by default.

Cruz Arroyo, a junior who is in his first year of wrestling, competed in the 192-pound class. He was pinned by Eastlake’s Eric Ramos 30 seconds into their first-round match. Arroyo pinned Ben Richards of Liberty Charter 53 seconds into their consolation bracket bout. Riki Ghosh of Valley Center won a 6-4 decision to eliminate Arroyo.

CIF competition divisions for wrestling are by school enrollment. The Division II boys tournament will take place Feb. 10 at Orange Glen High School. Those who place high enough in the divisional tournaments will compete in the all-division masters tournaments Feb. 16-17 at Southwest High School in El Centro. The state tournament for those who qualify will be Feb. 22-24 and will be in Bakersfield.

“Just excited for the postseason,” Brockson said.

Author Bio

Joe Naiman, Writer

Joe Naiman has been writing for the Village News since 2001


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