Raiders repeat Freeway League Finals success

By Jason Burch
La Habra Journal

Sonora may have graduated many of their top wrestlers from last season, but that didn’t stop David Carrizosa’s Raiders from dominating the 2017 Freeway League Finals tournament Friday night.

The Raiders finished with seven individual titles a year ago, last night they crowned six league champions. The Raiders will also be sending 12 wrestlers to CIF next Friday, which tops the nine qualifiers each of the previous two seasons.

One of the biggest surprises of the night was the 112-pound champion, Sonora freshman Richie Herrera. Carrizosa was certainly impressed with his Herrera, who joined the Raiders starting lineup for the first time this season after an injury last week.

“I knew Richie was good and we were confident he would place, but for him to win it, and the way he did was pretty incredible,” Carrizosa said.

Herrera blanked La Habra’s Oscar Alcala 6-0 in the semifinal round, then defeated Jacob Romo of Fullerton 13-2 in the championship.

Sonora also won the next three weight classes, Isaiah Perez at 120 pounds, Joe Lopez at 126 and Hiwad Stanekzai at 132. Both Perez and Stanekzai are now two-time league champions.

Stanekzai pinned both his semifinal and championship round opponents in less than a minute to earn Freeway League Tournament MVP of the lower weights.

Carrizosa said that Stanekzai has been a talented wrestler for a long time, but he thinks that it all came together for him the last couple weeks because he was able to devote more time on the mat. Stanekzai is a senior honor student, so earlier in the season he focused a lot of his time on applying and interviewing with colleges.

La Habra finished with one champion, 170-pounder Brandon Murray, who edged out Troy’s Tommy Hoover.

Sonora (224) finished first in team points, with Fullerton (202) in second and Troy (190) not far behind.

Sonora and the rest of the Freeway League qualifiers will travel to the Inland Empire for the CIF-SS Championships next Friday.

 Carrizosa is optimistic about his team’s chances next week, but admitted he doesn’t have one or two returning champs or top-seeds like he had the previous few years, so everybody must wrestle their best if they want to have a chance to qualify for the Master’s and State Tournaments.

Started in 1995, the La Habra Journal is an independent community news source serving the cities of La Habra and La Habra Heights.