TOP CHIEF: Joey Davis from Santa Fe High School was selected
as the Whittier Daily News All-Area Wrestler of the Year. The senior
has won two state titles in the past two years and also won two
(Keith Durflinger / Staff Photographer)
By Steve Ramirez, SGVN
WHITTIER – Santa Fe High School senior Joey Davis, who won back-to-back national championships, might be the best wrestler in area history.
But while some look to his athleticism as the main key to his success, his best trait is one that can’t be measured – his heart and determination.
For his efforts, Davis Whittier is Daily News Wrestler of the Year. Davis, who won the award for the second consecutive season, is joined on the All-Area team by Santa Fe teammates Nico Sanchez (103 pounds), Kioni Villalobos (113), Loucian Ponce (132), Daniel Contreras (136) and Dillon Crouch (152); La Habra’s Elder Cruz (195) and Jacob Rosales (120); Montebello’s Nelson Lucha (160) and Mark Green (heavyweight); California’s Adrian Chavez (126); La Mirada’s Stephen Hart (145); Schurr’s Nicholas Lucero (182) and La Serna’s Travis Graham (220).
Santa Fe’s Sal Garcia is Area Coach of the Year.
“I think of myself, my season like the movie `Troy,’ because Achilles (Brad Pitt) was the best at what he did and everyone knew he was the best,” Davis said. “That was my theory to the season to be like (Achilles). It sounds kind of funny, but that’s how I went into my season.
“I just wanted to be unstoppable, and doing what I had to do to be the best.”
WHITTIER DAILY NEWS ALL-AREA WRESTLING TEAM
WOY – Joey Davis, Santa Fe, Senior
COY – Sal Garcia, Santa Fe
106-Nico Sanchez, Santa Fe, Sophomore
113-Kioni Villalobos, Santa Fe, Senior
120-Jacob Rosales, La Habra, Junior
126-Adrian Chavez, California, Sophomore
132- Loucian Ponce, Santa Fe, Senior
136-Daniel Contreras, Santa Fe, Senior
145-Stephen Hart, La Mirada, Junior
152-Dillon Crouch, Santa Fe, Senior
160-Nelson Lucha, Montebello, Senior
170-Grant Escobar, Whittier Chr., Senior
182-Nicholas Lucero, Schurr, Senior
195-Elder Cruz, La Habra, Senior
220-Travis Graham, La Serna, Senior
Hwt-Mark Green, Montebello, Senior
There was no one better.
The 160-pounder missed a chance at being a four-time CIF-Southern Section divisional champion when he lost a controversial preliminary bout. But he proceeded like a champion, following up with a third-place finish before dominating at the Masters and CIF State championships. He then capped the year with a national title at the Flonationals in Philadelphia.
Garcia, who coached Davis since his freshman season, said what separates Davis from the rest is an unmatched work ethic. The senior possessed an unbeatable combination of athletic skill and determination.
“He’s a two-time state champ, a two-time national champion,” the Santa Fe coach said. “He’s just a great wrestler. He seems to do it effortlessly as far as his movement, how he wrestles.
“But it’s all because he works so hard. He’s a very hard worker and a lot of people don’t see that. Behind the doors, during practice time, he puts in the work. That’s why he’s so great.”
It showed on the mat. Davis went 55-1 and breezed through the Masters and state meets. At Masters, he earned most valuable upper weight honor after scoring two wins by fall and three by technical fall en route to the championship.
He dominated in Bakersfield at the state meet, winning his first three matches by fall before scoring a win by technical fall in the quarterfinals. Davis then beat McNair’s Jim Wilson, 7-1, before toying with Victor Pereira of Newark to win the final, 12-5.
He set an area milestone, becoming the first local competitor to win back-to-back state titles since Santa Fe’s Lyndon Campbell did so in 1986 and ’87.
Garcia said he also might be the first Santa Fe wrestler to win back-to-back national titles.
“I think that’s my dad’s thing,” Davis said of those milestones. “I’m not really the record-breaker person. I didn’t know about it. But that’s my dad telling me, `You know you’re the first …’ I didn’t even know. I don’t really care about that. I just like winning tournaments to get my name out there and let people know that I’m here.”
Davis, who has signed to continue his career at Notre Dame College of Ohio, did take pride in winning last year’s state title, not so much for him, but coach Garcia.
“I didn’t care about being the two-time state champion,” Davis said. “But I did care about being my coach’s first state champion. That was the thing I really wanted to do.
“There were guys here who were close. But I can say that I was coach Sal’s first state champion. That’s the biggest thing I wanted to do.”
Garcia has arguably been the best coach in the area during his tenure. Under his watch, the Chiefs are 72-6 in dual meets while winning nine league titles and three CIF-SS divisional titles.
Santa Fe was runner-up at the Division 3 dual championships this season and second among teams at the Eastern Division Individual championships. The Chiefs also qualified six wrestlers for the Masters and two for the state meet with Davis being the only area state champion.
“Overall, we thought we had a good season,” Garcia said. “We accomplished some goals throughout the season, and we got better each week. That’s the main thing, to see these guys improve every week, every month with every tournament. It’s exciting when you see that. That’s why we coach.”
Santa Fe’s core was led by Davis, but also included Sanchez, Villalobos, Ponce, Contreras and Crouch. All six qualified for the Masters meet, with Villalobos being one of three in the area to qualify for state. Villalobos and Contreras were also runners-up at the divisional meet.
Cruz was arguably the top area competitor behind Davis. He was ranked in the state top 10 at 195 most of the season. He was the area’s lone divisional champion, and finished second at Masters and was sixth at state. Rosales was second at divisionals to qualify for Masters.
Montebello’s Lucha, who was second at divisionals, and Green, who was fifth, qualified for Masters.
Lucero was fourth at the Eastern Division finals to qualify for Masters.
Chavez, Hart, Escobar and Graham were league champions to qualify for the divisional meets.