Santos wins Oakmont its second wrestling state title in three years
BAKERSFIELD - Peter Santos and Corey Griego lost five wrestling matches between them this season. That included three matches against each other.
They met in the rubber match Saturday night on the grandest stage high school wrestling offers in California: the CIF State Championships.
Both dominated most of their opponents throughout the season, but when these two shake hands in the center of a mat, pins, technical falls and major decisions are nowhere to be found.
Santos, who was ranked No. 2 in the state by www.thecaliforniawrestler.com, scored a reversal with 11 seconds remaining to beat the top-ranked Griego 4-3 in the 170-pound championship. It was the highest-scoring match of their three this season. Santos won the first 2-0 at the Walsh Ironman, Griego the second 1-0 in the Doc Buchanan Invitational final in Clovis.
Santos had added motivation in dedicating the tournament to his uncle, Enrique Rojas, who passed away Feb. 28.
"This is just awesome," Pete Santos Sr. said after his son's victory. "As his dad and coach for 14 years, he has worked so hard; especially with the passing of his uncle, he dedicated it to the whole family."
Pete Santos, a wrestler himself at Benicia High School, was overcome with emotion then.
"This brings our family close together, to have an inspiring, great moment," Santos Jr. said.
Santos (45-2) and Griego (40-3) engaged in hand and head grabs in a first period that ended 0-0. Griego tried three times in succession to pick up the rock-like Santos in the second period but couldn't.
Santos scored a reversal with 30 seconds left in the second period, and Griego matched that reversal with 1:40 left in the third period. They battled, grappled, twisted, turned, locked and rolled until Santos scored another reversal with 11 seconds left in the match. Santos gave Griego an escape with three seconds left, and it was over.
"Styles make matchups. They're stylistic matchups for each other," Vikings coach Justin Castrillo said. "They know each other's strengths, weaknesses and how to take advantage of them."
Said Santos, "We know each other very well, and he's a tough kid."
Santos gave Oakmont its second state championship in three years and joined former teammate Jake Elliott as the only wrestlers from Roseville city schools to win a state title, according to Castrillo. Santos said he talked with Elliott on the first day of the tournament. Elliott, now a freshman on scholarship at the University of Wyoming, advised Santos to relax and do his thing, sleep, eat a good meal.
His high school career now over, Santos next has April 10 circled on his calendar.
"I can't wait to sign with North Carolina State," he said.
Griego had the tougher time of the two leading to this final. He edged Johnathon Costa of Escalon 3-2 in his first match and followed with a 7-2 nod over Aaron Pease of Concord-De La Salle. Griego then edged Stevie Cervantes of Poway 4-3 and advanced to the final with a 10-2 decision over Bryce Martin of Bakersfield.
Santos didn't allow a point at the Sac-Joaquin Section Masters Championships the previous weekend in Stockton, and he blew through the competition in Bakersfield. Santos opened with a pin over Adrian Hernandez of Delano-Kennedy at 3:05, blanked Max Kumashiro of Los Alamitos 12-0 and pinned Alec Gamboa of Madera at 1:41 in the quarterfinals. Santos stamped his ticket to the final with a 15-0 technical fall over Jovan Villalobos of Alisal.
Folsom junior Nick Fiegener trailed Isaiah Martinez of Lemoore 15-4 when Martinez turned Fiegener and pinned him at 5:18 in the 160-pound title match. Fiegener was ranked No. 2 in the state, but like Martinez's previous four foes in the state tournament, didn't have anything for the three-time champion.
"He's super-duper strong. He's the strongest kid I ever wrestled," said Fiegener, who sought opportunities but found none against Martinez. "He didn't give me any room."
Martinez (55-1) won the 152-pound state title last year by pinning Oakmont's Elliott in the final. It was the only time Elliott, the 145-pound state champ in 2011, was pinned in his last two high school seasons.
Fiegener (57-3), who defeated Ray Lomas of Modesto-Central Catholic for the Masters title, started his state run with a 7-3 decision over Kyle Shepherd of Bakersfield-Frontier, followed with back-to-back pins and nipped Hunter Hodges of Bakersfield 5-4 in the semifinals.
At 145 pounds, Folsom sophomore Lorenzo De La Riva earned a sixth-place medal. De La Riva, won his first two matches on a 10-5 decision and third-round pin before losing to state finalist Anthony Valencia of Bellflower-St. John Bosco 11-1 in the quarterfinals. De La Riva then won a 9-3 decision over Tyler Zimmer of Clovis West, and he pinned Kevan Garcia of Paso Robles at 4:30 before losing to Jason Ladd of Clovis 8-5 in the fifth-place match. Ladd scored a takedown with about 40 seconds remaining to take a three-point cushion.
It was the second trip to the state meet in two years for De La Riva, who didn't make weight last year as a freshman.
"I feel good," he said after his final match, his muscles still flexed and a bead of sweat trickling down to the tip of his nose.
De La Riva said he met all of his season goals, winning Delta River League and Division I-A section titles and qualifying for the state meet. The only goal he didn't meet was winning a Masters title, and he was the runner-up in Stockton. De La Riva planned to hang around for the state finals Saturday night after wrestling six matches in two days.
"It's exhausting," he said with a smile. "It's fun, but it wears you out."
In other results:
At 106 pounds: Del Oro junior Isaac Blackburn and Folsom freshman Curtis Booth each went 0-2.
At 113: Del Oro freshman Clay Shropshire went 1-2. He won his first match in the consolation bracket 2-1.
At 120: Woodcreek junior James Gomez won by default and by pin at 5:11 over Daniel Papp of Palo Alto-Gunn to move into the round of 16. Gomez then was edged by Ricky Coster of Oakley-Freedom 3-2, and he lost to Josh Villaflor of Elk Grove-Franklin 9-3 in the consolation bracket. Gomez and Villaflor split two matches at the Masters Championships the previous week with Villaflor winning their opening match and Gomez gaining revenge in the third-place match to complete a seven-match win streak through the consolation bracket. Del Oro sophomore Zach Ruybal went 0-2, starting with a first-round pin at the hands of eventual champ Mason Pengilly of Porterville.
At 126: Granite Bay senior Sean Brown sandwiched a 12-2 major decision between two losses.
At 138: Senior Brandon Matu of Antelope went 2-2. After losing his opening match, Matu won by 16-8 major decision and 15-0 technical fall before being eliminated on a decision. Oak Ridge freshman Brandon Claiborne went 0-2.
At 145: Troy Grossi of Vista del Lago lost a decision in his first match and then won three in the consolation bracket, including a 12-1 major decision, before being eliminated. Johnny Zieour of Del Oro went 0-2.
At 170: Folsom senior Devon Nooner won his first two matches on close decisions before losing in the round of 16. He won two more decisions in the consolation bracket before being eliminated one match before the medal rounds. Nooner was 4-2 in the tournament. Del Oro junior Dylan Kainrath rebounded from being pinned in his first match to pin Blake Fifer of Victor Valley in 12 seconds in his first consolation match. Kainrath followed with another pin in 2:29 before losing his final match. He finished 2-2.
Contact Bill Poindexter at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at BillP_RsvPT.