Barela emerges as surprise at state

first_imgBAKERSFIELD – At the CIF-State wrestling championships, winning or losing by one point, or within seconds of the end of a match, is not rare. The wrestlers are by definition the best in the state. Parity is to be expected. Of course, that doesn’t take any emotion out of victory or defeat. It makes it only stronger. Barela, who said he “wasn’t even supposed to place at Masters,” pinned his first opponent in 59 seconds, then scored a technical fall in his next match before beating Kelly. While Barela’s 3-0 record was the biggest surprise of the day, Hesperia’s Ryan Hoover and Yucca Valley’s Vinny Maraj didn’t lose either, leaving them exactly where they expected to be after Day 1 of the two-day competition. Hoover, a senior 285-pounder, was unbeaten and ranked first in the state by prior to a stunning upset in the Southern Section Masters final last Saturday. At the time, Scorpions coach Dave Stidham said it was the best thing that could have happened to Hoover. Apparently, it was. “I have to work out with him at practice, and I’m a lot more sore this week than I was last week,” Stidham said. “We talked all week about putting that (loss) behind him. He can redeem.” Hoover began the day with an 11-3 win over Ferndale’s John Thurston, last year’s eighth-place finisher at state. In the second round, he took a 9-4 decision over Selma’s Jacob Elk. When Barstow’s Donovan Barela beat Clovis’ Cameron Kelly 7-5 in overtime to reach the 130-pound semifinals Friday, he could hardly speak, only smile. “It feels great,” the senior said after becoming the first Aztec wrestler in two years to earn a guaranteed top-six finish. With two wins today, he would become the school’s first state champion since heavyweight Lionel Apineru in 2001. center_img “I got beat at Masters by a guy I beat earlier in the year because I was thinking too far ahead,” said Hoover, the first semifinalist in school history. “I was thinking, `state, state, get a good draw.’ Then he caught me. “This year … I’m thinking of all my matches before (the finals). That’s helped me a lot.” Maraj made his first day look even easier. The 152-pounder, who was forced to forfeit his Masters championship because of a pinched nerve, stormed out to pins in his first three matches two of them coming in the second period, one in the first. He was finally challenged in his semifinal-clinching match, an 8-4 win over Vacaville’s Michael Kent. “It takes a lot of stress out of being tired,” Maraj said of his three quick pins. “I like to save my energy for a tough match like this (against Kent).” Most wrestlers, however, didn’t have the luxury of three lopsided wins. Bakersfield left a bitter taste in the mouths of Rancho Cucamonga’s Ryan Eagleson and Sultana’s Cody Bollinger, to name two. Needing one win to continue wrestling in the consolation bracket today, Eagleson trailed Bakersfield Centennial’s Seth Hicks 12-11 with 20 seconds left in the third period of a back-and-forth match. The two wrestlers tumbled out of bounds and restarted with 8 seconds left in the match. Needing a takedown to win, Eagleson appeared to have it, pulling Hicks to the ground near the out-of-bounds line with one second left. Referee Mike Lengyel initially ruled it a takedown, signaling two points for Eagleson, then reversed his call seconds later. “To have the points go in your favor with one second left, then have them taken away because the referee thought he made the wrong call? I thought I had won,” a somber Eagleson lamented. In his final high school meet, Eagleson finished the day 3-2. On the adjacent mat, mere minutes later the same fate befell Bollinger. He was leading Maxx Harpel of Vacaville Wood 5-2 with 55 seconds left, then saw it trimmed to 5-4 with 23 seconds left. Near the same out-of-bounds line that victimized Eagleson, Harpel recorded a disputed takedown with 3 seconds left. The takedown stood, and Bollinger lost 6-5. Because it was Bollinger’s only loss, he will continue wrestling today in the consolation bracket. Like Bollinger, teammate Zac Sweeney (215) also lost once and can finish as high as third today. The Sultans’ Jarrod Brooksher (145), Eli McWatters (160) and Erik Baker (135) all lost twice, ending their seasons. Diamond Bar’s Marcus Johnson Jr. (215) had no problems with a slightly separated shoulder, but did have trouble with Anderson’s Zack Gibbons. Gibbons handed the Brahmas’ senior his first pin since last year in the third round. It was Johnson’s only loss, however, and he will face Vince Lopez of Clovis when competition begins today. Several other local wrestlers saw their seasons come to an end: Rim of the World’s Isaac Whisner, who went 1-2; Rancho Cucamonga’s Corey Castillo (0-2); Damien’s Aaron Kunihiro (1-2); Cajon’s Alfonso Hernandez (0-2) and Jesse Moreno (0-2); Hesperia’s Daniel Gudino (2-2), Dominick Reyes (1-2) and Justin Correa (0-2); and Yucaipa’s A.J. Meadows (2-2). Alta Loma senior Alton Clark, a regional champion two weeks ago, did not make weight Friday morning and was disqualified. 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img