Liberty, the dual meet champions, racked up 254 points to outdistance Antioch by 62. Third-place Freedom finished 27 points behind the Panthers. The Lions’ only omission: none of its wrestlers above the 145-pound weight class claimed an individual title, though they did place wrestlers in all but two of those championship matches.
Senior Jesse Baldazo once again showed why he’s considered supreme in the league, pinning his way to another league title at 145 pounds and earning the top seed for this weekend’s NCS Championships. Lions Devon Lyle (103 pounds), Austin Solari (112), Xavier Johnson (125) and Nico Serrano (135) also won individual titles and seeds for this weekend’s meet.
Antioch and Freedom were each paced by three individual champions. Freedom’s Zack Wiley (130) and Gabe Tulchinsky (171) each won major decisions in their respective matches, while Roman Garcia hung on to defeat Liberty’s Jacob Thompson-Zanarini in one of the most entertaining matches of the evening at 119 pounds. Garcia built a 5-0 lead in the match, only to see a furious comeback by Thompson-Zanarini make it 6-5 in the third round.
When Thompson-Zanarini attempted to throw Garcia with a head-and-arm combination, the move that had started the comeback, Garcia was able to instead get the takedown from behind, ensuring the 8-6 victory after allowing a final escape in the waning seconds. All three Falcons champions will look to make noise this weekend, as all of them proved worthy of top-three seeds in the section championships. Wiley earned an additional honor: the prestigious Martin Oliveri-Clyde Forrest Award for outstanding wrestler in all facets, incorporating sportsmanship, community service, academics and athletic ability.
It was in the middle-to-heavyweight classes where the Panthers were able to put their stamp on the league meet. Joe Baynes picked up a pin in the championship match at 140 pounds, while Luke Hudson (160) and Kyle Clark (215) both continued seasons of dominance with first-round pins.
Clark is the top seed for this weekend’s championships, while Hudson and Baynes are seeded in the top three. Pittsburg also claimed multiple titles during the finals on their way to a fourth-place team finish. Kenneth Nelson won a close 8-7 decision over Liberty’s Zach Hanson in the 189-pound final, while Caesar Garcia pinned defending league champion Tyler Blank of Liberty in the 285-pound matchup. Garcia also earned a seed for this weekend.
Heritage picked up one champion, as Clayton Hambrick earned a major decision victory over the Lions’ Kevin Milner at 152 pounds. Hambrick is the third seed in the NCS.
Deer Valley placed one wrestler in the finals, as sophomore Elijah Iakopo faced Clark in the 215-pound final.
This weekend’s NCS Championships will be held on Friday and Saturday at Newark Memorial High School.