Undefeated De La Salle captured the team victory at the league meet with 245 points, leaving Liberty in second with 221. Freedom High, which went 0-7 last year in the dual meet season and had a dismal finish at the 2006 league meet, placed third by a score of 202.5.
"I was a little disappointed," said Liberty coach Greg Chappel. "It's not like we finished last, but I always like to win. We worked hard and we came to win, so second place is never good enough."
Lion freshman Paul Gomez placed first in the 103-pound weight class, going 2-0 on the day. Against De La Salle's Vince Moita in the finals, he cruised to a 14-0 victory.
"Paul didn't have any trouble at league finals. He's been in bigger meets than that and has done really well, so we knew he could come out with a title," Chappel said. "I think he has more to be nervous about this weekend but still he should do well."
Gomez is ranked No. 1 in his division heading into this weekend's NCS Championships hosted by Newark Memorial. He and sophomore David Klingsheim are the only Lions to earn the top seed at the event.
Klingsheim clinched his second league in the 112-pound weight class, beating Antioch's David Rios by technical fall in the finals. It was the second year in a row that the sophomore sensation beat Rios for the title.
Coming off a stellar freshman season in which he placed third at NCS and eighth at the state meet, Klingsheim is looking for an even stronger finish this season.
"I want to win it really bad this season," Klingsheim said. "Two of my older brothers (Adam and Kip) have won it in the past and I want to also."
Klingsheim's ultimate goal is to be a four-time league champion. If he does so, he'll be just the second Lion wrestler in school history to accomplish that feat.
Roger Hutchison was Liberty's biggest question mark heading into the league finals. After hurting his back in late December, Hutchison, who was undefeated until that point, simply lacked the mat time to prove to Chappel he was ready for the postseason. But prove himself he did, pinning Clayton Valley's Jacob Blackshere in the finals to take first in the 119-pound weight class. Hutchison's performance earned him the sixth seed at NCS.
"He pretty much dominated everybody," Chappel said. "He's been practicing hard. He's got some tough competition at NCS so he's really gotta come through. I think he can come in under the radar and do really something."
Senior Mike Bodkin earned his first league title after four years of competition, beating Freedom's Michael Sherman 11-2 in the finals of the 130-pound division.
"Every year I have one kid that really stands out as being special at the league finals and this year it was Mike," Chappel said. "It was really good to see him finally win a title. I was really excited for him."
Bodkin is seeded second at NCS.
Liberty also saw seven wrestlers place in the top four to qualify for NCS. Anthony Thurgood (125), David Rios (135) and Angelo DeJesus (189) each placed second in the respective weight classes, while Ryan Smith (140) and Andy Dwyer (160) both placed third. Chris Leyen (145) and Dallin Moravec (171) placed fourth.
The top four placers in each division at NCS qualify for the upcoming CIF-State Championships in Bakersfield.
"We have a good shot at getting five kids to state," Chappel said. "I'm excited to see what we can do."