By Steve Ramirez, Staff Writer
The CIF State wrestling championships are less than two months away, but who will stand out at the annual meet might begin to become clear today when some of the top athletes from California and beyond compete in the two-day Five Counties Invitational at Fountain Valley High School. The tournament, which begins today with preliminary matches at 11 a.m. and concludes with final-round bouts at 7:15 p.m. Saturday, traditionally is a barometer for the state meet. The Valley is expected to be strongly represented, with Northview’s Gilbert Nakatani at 112 pounds and Rosemead’s Matt Fregoso at 130 among the favorites. (To continue, click thread).
Below: Rosemead’s Matt Fregoso doing his thing …
Nakatani is ranked No. 4 in the state at 119. He’s been competing at 112 recently, finishing second at the Nogales Super Champs tournament last week. He has two tournament championships this season, including beating state No. 2 Victor Lopez of Calexico earlier this year.
Fregoso, ranked No. 11 in the state, is a favorite for a podium finish at 130 after earning lower-weight MVP at the Nogales tournament. He had three wins by fall, one technical fall and a decision.
Northview is again expected to have strength in numbers, with other competitors including Carlos Garcia (119), Daniel Valles (135), Bryan Salinas (140), Javier Arellano (145), Steven Lopez (160) and Chris Auxier (215). Auxier, a state qualifier last year at heavyweight, and Salinas are coming off runner-up finishes at Nogales.
Rosemead also has a solid contingent, with Ryan Maldonado (135) and Albert Flores (140) joining Fregoso. All three could medal.
Other area competitors include Arroyo’s Christian Betancourt (112), Ayala’s Andrew Delgado (119) and Aaron Martinez (125), and Bishop Amat’s Idilio Sanchez (189). Betancourt, who has two tournament championships this season, is ranked 12th in the state.
Huskies get big win
This hasn’t been the best of seasons for the South Hills girls basketball team, which had to endure season-ending injuries to two of its starters before the season began.
All that was forgotten Wednesday, however, after the visiting Huskies opened Sierra League play with a 45-43 victory over Valley No. 7 St. Lucy’s.
Imani Payton scored on a layup with less than 30 seconds to play, and Janelle Dyer had a team-high 13 points as South Hills improved to 5-10 overall. St. Lucy’s slipped to 9-6.
The win was more remarkable given the Huskies lost their only two returning starters – Candace Williams and Jackie Valle-Acosta – to season-ending knee injuries before the season started. A third starter – Annie Nonu – was injured in December and hasn’t returned.
“Our girls did a great job of executing our game plan,” South Hills coach Tiffany Liang said. “We came up with a plan and the girls stuck with it the entire game.
“This has to be my most satisfying win since I’ve been coaching. It is even better than our upset win over Walnut a couple of years ago.”