When Mission Oak’s Joseph Domingo seized control of Redwood’s Nicholas Walker, he also seized control of an individual and team title.
With 11-of-12 weight class finals finished, Mission Oak and Redwood owned the top two spots in the team standings of the second annual Mission Oak TRUE WRESTLER Invitational. Each school featured a wrestler in the final title bout. Each wrestler would clinch the team championship by winning that individual title.
It was this very scenario that prompted Mission Oak head coach John Navarro to run the finals out of order. Bucking the norm of holding each title bout in ascending order by weight class, Navarro instead saved the the tournament’s key matches for last to keep fans interested. The decision resulted in Walker wrestling Domingo for the 132-pound title and the team championship.
Walker took control early by landing a takedown in the first period. His dominance appeared to carry over into the second frame until Domingo grabbed his leg and completed a cross-face cradle. It was then only a matter of time before Walker was pinned and the Hawks celebrated as tournament champs.
“That’s his bread and butter. He lives and dies by the cradle,” Mission Oak head coach John Navarro said. “Domingo is a great kid. He’s one of those students that went through a lot of adversity in life. Wrestling is a good sport to help him build character and keep battling. He battled it out on the mat.”
Walker only led 2-0 after the first period, but his advantage could have been much greater. He never let Domingo escape his takedown by using a half-nelson hold, wrenching his neck in, holding his wrist tight and almost turning him on his back for a near fall.
The move made Navarro nervous, so he instructed Domingo to start the second period in the up position — counter to the team’s normal strategy of taking the down position for point-scoring purposes.
The strategy worked perfectly.
Walker stuck his leg out. Domingo caught it and made him pay dearly for the mistake. Walker tried to counter by placing his arm on the outside, but Domingo adjusted his hands and completed the cradle for the pin.
It secured a team championship, but Navarro made sure Domingo didn’t know what was at stake until after the match.
“We didn’t tell them because we didn’t want added pressure on them,” Navarro said. “If we divulged that, it may have put a little too much pressure where he didn’t just go out and wrestle for himself and he’s carrying the whole weight of the team on him. I told him after the match and he gave me a look like, ‘what?'” I was happy I didn’t tell him.”
Wrestlers from Mission Oak and Redwood also met up in the 106-pound final. Redwood’s Alex Rivera took down Mission Oak’s Erick Olguin early in the opening period before earning two near falls for an 8-0 victory.
Two other Hawks lost in the finals as well, both against wrestlers from Yosemite. Cameron Simonsen (182) defeated Robert Alvarado 6-4 and Mike Waybright (120) pinned Michael Rincon at the 2:54 mark.
Waybright was named tournament MVP for the low weights. Hoover’s Lorenzo Rodriguez (152) took the honor for the middle weights and Ridgeview’s Noe Delgado (220) earned it for the heavy weights.
An all-Redwood final took place at 113 pounds, where Isaiah Torres beat teammate Sammy Pena 8-2. Redwood also featured winners in two other weight classes for a total of four individual champions.
Jose Bautista (170) pinned Sierra’s Christian Cunningham with 24 seconds remaining in a high scoring match he led only 8-6.
Blake Marple cut his weight down to 160 pounds for the first time this season and beat Hanford West’s Garrison Magee 4-3 in the finals after a controversial ending.
Magee looked to have landed a two-point takedown with three seconds remaining, but the play was ruled out of bounds and no points were given.
“Usually the first (weight) cut is the hardest,” Redwood head coach Dave Watts said. “It wasn’t pretty, but he won.”
Redwood’s Joey Cisneros and Darrion Harris did not wrestle Saturday in order to keep their match count down.
Cisneros is ranked No. 6 in the state and No. 3 in the Valley at 106 pounds by The California Wrestler. Harris is ranked No. 14 in the Valley at 120 pounds.
Watts said both will wrestle at Golden West next week.
Granite Hills’ Andy Alvarez (126) defeated Dinuba’s Jason Ortiz 7-2 in an all-Tulare County final. Exeter’s Tyler Coker (145) was Tulare County’s seventh individual champion, beating Kerman’s Raj Brar 11-7.
Two other finals needed ultimate overtime to crown a champion. Hoover’s Rodriguez edged Kerman’s Basillo Guttierez 3-2 after four extra 30-second periods. Corcoran’s Anthony Anaya survived three extra periods for a 3-2 victory over Ridgeview’s Gabe Rosas.
In the remaining three weight classes, Yosemite’s PJ Reyna (138) pinned Hoover’s Conrad Lopez at 2:47, Hoover’s Joseph Valles (195) pinned Ridgeview’s Jacob Lopez at 5:22 and Ridgeview’s Delgado defeated Hoover’s Javier Salazar 10-2.
Chris Price, co-owner of tournament sponsor TRUE WRESTLER, handed out custom warm-up jackets to each individual winner and team champion head coach Navarro.
Mission Oak won the tournament with 184 team points. Redwood finished second with 175, followed by last year’s champion Hoover (173.5). Granite Hills finished fifth (100).
Exeter finished eighth (69). Dinuba finished 13th (59). Tulare Western finished 14th (42). Tulare Union finished 15th (36).
The tournament drew 19 total teams after six dropped out late in the week. The schools on the original team list that did not compete Saturday were Woodlake, Coalinga, Bakersfield Christian, Delano, Pomona and Panorama.
Navarro said he is considering moving the tournament to a different weekend next year in order to avoid competing for teams against the many other larger, more established tournaments that ran this weekend.
He won’t make any final decisions on that before seeing what those larger tournaments do with their own schedules first.