South Hills wrestles with a heavy heart

By Louis Brewster
There wasn’t much of a celebration for South Hills High School following the Huskies’ impressive and dominant victory Tuesday at the annual Blackwatch Invitational Wrestling Tournament. South Hills had five individual champions, including the lower weight MVP in Daniel Flores, and finished 84.5 points ahead of runner-up Alta Loma in the two-day event. However, Chris Taylor’s squad of a dozen wrestlers competed with heavy hearts.
“One of our ex-wrestlers (a 2006 graduate) lost both parents in the Christmas Eve shootings in Covina,” said Taylor, who opted not to identify him “out of respect for his privacy. t was the rudest kind of wake-up call,” said Taylor. “However, as a testament to our community, team and boosters, the one question was `How can we help?”‘
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With the assistance of tournament director and Upland head coach Bob Irwin, there were opportunities to donate for the fund of the former wrestler and his two sisters, part of the group of 13 who lost one or both parents.

“Our team has felt underappreciated and underrespected,” Taylor said of a squad with two freshmen and three sophomores. “We’ve been underestimated all year, overlooked. But, before the tourney, we took time to appreciate what we have a lot more.”

Flores was named MVP in the lower weights after he recorded two pins and three major decisions, including a fall against Colony’s Anthony Soto in the 103-pound finals.

In fact, South Hills
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won both head-to-head matches against Alta Loma in championship matches. Joe Talarico defeated Jacob Leon at 125 pounds, 8-2, and Tired Olson beat Anthony Meza 10-4 at 215.

Colton Kiernan of Phoenix Desert Vista, which registered four pins, was the heavyweight MVP. Desert Vista was third in the team standings at 168 following South Hills (268.5) and ALta Loma (184), ahead of Riverside Ramona (112) and Colony (111).

Alta Loma actually placed two teams in the top 15, with its “B” team in a tie for 14th with Baseline League rival Los Osos.

“I felt we had good kids that were good enough to compete here,” Alta Loma coach Tom Guenther said. “We wanted them to see good competition. This is really the first step toward the CIF (finals) and state.

“I was happy with our teams, but we weren’t very productive in the medal round, going 3-6. We’ll be working on that.”

Justin Silva gave Alta Loma its lone title at 119 with a fall over Cathedral City’s Albert Valadez, while teammate Ricky Garcia beat Ramona’s Nick Simon for third place.

Alta Loma also medaled twice at 216, with Meza second and Kevin Gannuscio in fourth.

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