Wrestling: Downey beats West Covina in meeting between defending CIF champions

By Brian Reed-Baiotto, Correspondent
– Arguably the biggest factor in Tuesday’s wrestling showdown between reigning CIF team champions Downey and West Covina was the Bulldogs’ football program. West Covina plays in Friday night’s CIF-Southern Section Southeast Division championship game, and six wrestlers are on the roster. Visiting Downey took advantage of four West Covina forfeits and used those 24 team points to outlast the feisty Bulldogs 48-30.

West Covina split the 10 matches it competed in and all five victories were achieved via pin.

“If you saw how far we’ve come from last week’s loss to Covina and to compete against a great program like Downey without several of our wrestlers, you’d understand how proud I am of my kids,” four-time CIF champion coach Donnie Stephens said. “We made some great strides tonight and I think they proved to me that we’re going to be pretty good once we get everyone back.”

Miguel Vargas (106 pounds) pinned Downey’s Andrew Lopez just 39 seconds into the first period to give West Covina a 6-0 team lead.

Ronald Casasola (113) defeated the Bulldogs’ Anthony Alvarez to get the Vikings to within 6-3 and Daniel Martinez (120) and Enrique Carrasco (126) then picked up victories via forfeit.

After Danny Rivas’ (132) 4-3 decision over West Covina’s Jesse Jaime, Downey held a commanding 18-6 lead. But the Bulldogs didn’t lay down as Ivan De La Torre (138), Matt Jimenez (145) and Andy Hernandez (152) picked up consecutive victories via pin to give West Covina its last lead of the match, 24-18.

Downey’s Valentino Ochoa (160) pinned Adam Caballero at 1:52 to tie the match at 24-24 and the Vikings’ Nathan Amezcua (170) pinned Alex Caceres in 1:01 to give Downey a 30-24 lead they did not relinquish.

“I was pretty disappointed with the effort our kids gave tonight, because it seemed like they weren’t ready to go,” back-to-back CIF champion coach Miguel Soto of Downey said. “I know West Covina is a great program and they’re missing guys to football, and maybe we just weren’t as focused as we needed to be.

“I’m obviously glad we won, however.”

West Covina’s Jesse Enriquez (195) pinned Jorge Guerrero just before the end of the second period and Downey’s Brandon Fonseca (220) made short work of West Covina’s Oscar Rosalez with a pin in 18 seconds.

Downey’s Robert Suarez (182) and heavyweight Robert Chism both won via forfeit.

“We’re very happy for coach Mike Maggiore and the football program and want them to win a CIF title, but we can’t wait to get our kids back,” said Stephens, who along with his wife Shirley has built a top wrestling program at West Covina over the last 17 years.

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  • Coach Stephens

    Thanks Brian for a great article as usual. I remember when you were just a baseball guy who was kinda reluctant to cover wrestling. Now you are one of the few reporters who truly “gets it”. With so many great programs in the area, including 2 of the top 3 women’s teams in the entire state, I wish the Tribune would take a little more time to see what they are missing!

  • Efren Tirado

    This is a well written article when I was at WC and we were just getting the bearing greased up by having our first two CIF champs in 13 years there was no coverage… I’m glad to see the Tribune finally realizes that wrestling is a growing sport and that they are covering it with well written articles such as this it’s articles like this that make me proud of my old team and my area
    -Efren “Funky E” Tirado
    2003 CIF CHAMP

  • Rich

    Yes, a very well written article, and I am happy to see one so early in the season. The wrestling community is large in this area, and unfortunately the tribune does not feel this sport gets much traffic which is definitely not true. Every year we email Fred and his crew and we get the same answer, its not a popular sport in this area… Thank you Brian for this article.

  • Basic

    Bonita beat SD for the Railroad Tie this year…Way to go Bearcats

  • great for the sgv

    Where can we get regular updates on wrestling and can anyone post up schedules? I would love to watch some of these teams. Good article, sound like West Covina has a great season ahead of them. The coach mentions two great womens teams, I’ll guess West Covina and South Hills.