Wrestlers do well at Masters

Wrestlers from Porterville and Monache High School pose for pictures after the Central Section Boys Masters Championship, Saturday, Feb. 22, 2020, at Hoover High School in Fresno.

PHS, MHS, GHHS send eight boys to State

Tyler Avila is a Masters champion!

On the heels of winning the Central Section Division II championship, the Porterville High School senior picked up more hardware with a 10-5 upset of top-seeded Jadon Martin of Buchanan in the 184-pound title match of the Central Section Boys Masters Championship, Saturday, at Hoover High School in Fresno.

In The California Wrestler’s state rankings as of Feb. 20, Martin was ranked third while Avila was fifth, making for a huge upset before this week’s CIF State Championships on Feb. 27-29 at Mechanics Bank Arena (formerly Rabobank) in Bakersfield.

For the title, Avila proved himself with an outstanding comeback. Trailing 5-2 going into the third period, Avila scored eight points for the win.

“Tyler just ... would not be denied,” PHS head coach Tim Vanni said. “And just kind of put it on him after that. Ended up winning 10-5 and did a fantastic job. We tell the wrestlers all the time, you gotta want it. And I think he showed that. So that was a pretty impressive win.”

En route to a Masters championship, second-seed Avila pinned Monache’s Dagan Alle in 1 minute, 32 seconds; Firebaugh’s Danny Olivera in 3:33; seventh-seed Isaiah Hernandez of Selma in 5:10 and third-seed Justin Tripp of Mt. Whitney in 2:21 in the semifinals. 

Avila was also voted the Upper Weight Outstanding Wrestler by coaches at the tournament.

Also headed to state with Avila, is Porterville’s Brian Benevidez (122) who placed eighth.

“Not quite where we wanted it to be but I think the most important thing first of all in Masters’ tournament qualifying system is to get to State,” Vanni said. “Cause once you get to state, everything is pretty much erased. Whether you’re coming out No. 1 or No. 10 in our section, records don’t really matter at this point cause it’s down to one tournament. And you got a shot.”

MONACHE

The Marauders wrestling program is sending seven wrestlers to the big show. They’ll have five wrestlers from the boys program and two from the girls. 

After winning her second-straight Masters championship down in Bakersfield, one of the first things Monache’s Charlotte Kouyoumtjian said was, “That’s seven. We’re sending seven to state!”

As a team at Masters, Monache boys finished in 12th place out of 88 teams, while Buchanan High was the overall champion. There were 10 wrestlers  representing Monache, and five were able to advance to the State Finals. 

At 115 pounds, Wanderlei Whittington has become only the second wrestler in Monache's 50 year history, to advance to the state finals as a freshmen. Mark Cardwell was the other. He finished the tournament with a 3-2 record to advance. 

After finishing one win away last year, junior Jose Flores (140) went 4-3 with four wins by pin, to advance to state. Sophomore Anthony Estrada (147) avenged a loss from the prior week against Joseph Munoz of Madera South to put himself into the state finals. He went 4-3 overall and finished eighth.  

Junior Hunter Weimer (222) had a huge tournament when he defeated the third-seed Noah Duran of Clovis North in the quarterfinals. Weimer went 5-2 and finished in fourth place only losing by one in a very exciting overtime of the third-place match.  Senior Taven Avila (285) went 3-2 and finished in eighth place. While wrestling in the consolation bracket, Avila lost two matches that went into overtime and those are matches he can win next week at state. 

“I'm very proud of our program, staff, and how all our wrestlers performed this weekend,” MHS head coach Arthur Demerath said. “All the wrestlers representing Monache left everything they had on the mat. Our goal was to get five or more to state and we achieved that goal. Now it's time to focus on trying to bring some hardware home from the state championships.”

GRANITE HILLS

Granite Hills High School’s Shane Christie (172 pounds) earned a spot at the CIF State Championships with an eighth-place finish at Masters. 

In the first rounds, ninth-seeded Christie pinned his first opponent Giovanni Castillo of Pioneer Valley in 35 seconds then pinned eighth-seed Yadi Brar of Clovis East exactly as the second period ended at 4 minutes. But in the quarterfinals, Christie lost to the state’s No. 1-ranked 170lb-er, Giano Petrucelli of Clovis, in 3:39.

In consolation, Christie defeated Ricardo Eaton of East Bakersfield in a 2-1 decision in sudden victory after two tiebreaker periods to guarantee a spot at State. However, he medically forfeited his final two matches and placed eighth.

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