By Jason Burch
La Habra Journal
The Sonora wrestling team hit the mats with high expectations and delivered champions in seven different weight classes at the Freeway League tournament Friday night, but it was a first–year wrestler that stole the show.
Sonora 285-pound champion Jorge Bernabe was named MVP of the heavier weights after notching his second fall in the title match against Juan Lopez of Troy. Sonora Head Coach David Carrizosa was especially impressed with Bernabe, a former football player who never wrestled prior to this, his senior, year.
“I had been trying to get him out for four years to wrestle,” Carrizosa said. “He finally came out, but it’s funny because he had this promise, he said, ‘coach I’ll come out if you make me league champion,’ and I said ‘sure.’”
Carrizosa made good on his promise, now he feels that Bernabe has a good chance at CIF and possibly further. He is hoping that Bernabe’s success will, “trigger more football players to come out for wrestling.”
“He barely started wrestling in January,” Carrizosa said. “He was late to the party, but his only losses were to top ranked guys in the state and he held his own with them.”
The Raiders hope to have at least one wrestler enter the CIF tournament as a No. 1 seed next week at Citrus Hill High School in Moreno Valley. Josh Kawaguchi won the 160-pound weight class, marking his second Freeway League title.
“Josh should be seeded first, he’s a returning CIF Champion,” Carrizosa said. “He is up three weight classes at 160, but based on the criteria he should be first–he was and State qualifier [in 2015].”
Carrizosa pointed out that Bernabe could earn a top seed in the CIF Tournament as well. He said that his record is (15-2) this season, adding that, “his only losses came against top-ranked guys in the state.”
Sonora’s Isaiah Perez (113), Hiwad Stanekzai (120), Nate Avila (138), Jacob Pelayo (145) and Chucky Chavez (152) were all crowned Freeway League Champions as well.
In addition to the seven league champs, the Raiders also had two additional league placers, giving the team a total of nine CIF qualifiers, the same number they had last year. Carlos Castilla (195) and Sebastian Perez (220) both finished third.
La Habra High School qualified four wrestlers for the tournament next week. La Habra’s Edward Medina (132) took third after beating Solomon Than of Sonora. Brandon Murry (145) took third after beating Luke Boyd of Buena Park. Carlos Castilla (195) pulled off a second-period fall
against Eddie Estrada to take third and qualify for the CIF tournament. Wayne Nicholson (120), lead the Highlanders with his second-place finish in the tournament.
Adrian Diaz (132) of Troy High School was named MVP of the lighter weights.
Freeway League qualifiers have a long bus ride in their future. The CIF tournament will be next Friday at Citrus Hill High School, located 45 miles away in Perris.