By Steve Ramirez, Staff Writer
Northview High School’s wrestling program, the area’s best for more than a decade, hasn’t looked like itself during the first month of the season. But coach David Ochoa, who built the Vikings into one of the top programs in the CIF-Southern Section, has seen signs of Northview getting back to square one and of a team making its annual trip north to the CIF State championships in Bakersfield.
The Vikings finished an unfamiliar 14th at The Bash in Fresno in December, placing just two among the top eight. But Northview then responded with a third-place finish at Nogales’ Super Champs Tournament this past weekend, landing seven wrestlers among the top eight.
“We didn’t wrestle well in Fresno,” Ochoa said. “But we came back well at Nogales. We started to look like we’re supposed to look.
“I think we’re getting back on track. We haven’t had the results we’re used to having, but the kids are responding and are improving.”
The Vikings have been led by Frank Martinez, who’s Northview’s best hope for a CIF State champion.
The 5-foot-5 senior, up two weight divisions to 140 pounds this season, is ranked second in the state after beginning the season 19-0 with four tournament championships, including victories at The Bash and last week at Nogales.
“Frank’s the leader of the team,” Ochoa said. “Every year, we have someone step forward and take charge, and he’s done that this year.
“He’s always been physically strong and has handled the (move up in weight class) really well.”
Martinez will now put his ranking to a test, competing at the 5-Counties Invitational, which features the top competitors in the state.
The meet is scheduled for Friday and Saturday at Fountain Valley High.
Northview’s Nick Jacobo (103), Gilbert Nakatani (112), Pedro Rodriguez (145), Elvis Arce (152) and Chris Auxier (215) are scheduled to compete in the event.
Nakatani and Arce are coming off victories at Nogales, where Jacobo, ranked No. 5 in CIF-SS at 103, finished second.
South Hills, which won a CIF-SS dual championship last season, has a solid lineup, which includes Daniel Flores, Thomas Morales, Joseph Talarico and Vincent Herrera.
That’s the good news. The tough decision is who wrestles at what class.
“Right now, we’re getting them in as many matches as we can,” South Hills coach Robb Froh said. “We have a good core, and they are all near the same weight, so we’re just juggling what works best.”
The Huskies also have solid competitors across their lineup, including Dakota Behr at 189, Jeremy Osborn at 215 and heavyweight Peter Nonu. Trevor Behr also looks good at 140.
“We just want to be ready for the end of the season,” Froh said. “We open league against Walnut this week, and they are looking solid, so we just want to do well.”
Bulldogs look strong
West Covina also looked super at the Nogales Tournament.
The Bulldogs finished a solid second after three competitors won their respective classes, with six placing among the top eight.
West Covina’s Raymond Medina, competing at 171, topped the list after earning upper-weight MVP. He cruised through his bracket with four victories by fall.
Brad Ojala (145) and Ryan McLaurin (189) also won their respective classes for the Bulldogs.
West Covina also got a second-place finish from Ricky Ortiz (112).
Others to watch
Several other area competitors have started the season strong and are expected to make a bid for the state championships in March.
They include Covina’s Kyle Acevedo (112), Walnut’s Roldan Garcia (135), Arroyo’s Noel Blanco (152) and La Puente’s Jesus Vargas (215).
All are ranked among the top eight in their respective weight classes in the CIF-SS.
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