ELAC wrestlers place 7th at the Southern Regional

Photo of East Los Angeles College freshman wrestler Nate Martinez from earlier in the season by Tadzio Garcia.
Photo of East Los Angeles College freshman wrestler Nate Martinez from earlier in the season by Tadzio Garcia.

WHITTIER, Calif. — The No. 17-state ranked East Los Angeles College Huskies wrestling team placed 7th at the 2018 CCCAA Southern California Regional at the Rio Hondo College Gymnasium today.

The Huskies upset No. 13 Cuesta College who placed 8th, 50.5 points to 40 for the Cougars. Palomar College won the team title with two first place finishes and four runner-up nods.

It is the best finish for ELAC at SoCal since 2014 when the Huskies placed 7th. The Huskies sent four wrestlers and four alternates to the state finals resulting in two All-Americans, Joseph Magdaleno-Hudson (157 pounds) and Adrian Herrera (165 pounds).

The Huskies send three wrestlers this year to state championships, sophomore Gabriel Rodriguez (Warren High School) who is a two-time state finalist, sophomore Efren Velez (Schurr HS) and freshman Emmanuel Zepeda (Fremont HS) who is ELAC’s first lower division state finalist since Johnny Robles in 2015.

ELAC qualifies three Huskies as alternates, sophomore Ricky Cortez, freshman Daniel Briseno and sophomore Rodrigo Magallon according to 20-year ELAC wrestling head coach Ralph Valle.

125-pound sophomore Martin Gevorkian (Downey HS) wrestled a tough draw and lost an opening round 10-2 decision to eventual fourth place winner Keithen Estrada of Bakersfield College. Gevorkian lost to another state finalist Richard Vaillancourt of Moorpark College in the third round of the consolation bracket.

133-pounds: ELAC did not wrestle in this weight class.

141-pound freshman Jonathan Flores (Bell HS) displayed his strength in the opening round but lost to Cuesta College’s Victor Daza. In the consolation bracket, Flores wrestled Bakersfield’s Izaiah Ozuna but lost a rough battle.

149-pound sophomore Ahmad Shalabi (Mendez HS) who placed second at the recent ELAC Brawl, lost a 10-4 decision in the first round to Nathan Navida of Palomar College. In the consolation bracket, Shalabi lost a close 6-4 decision to the 149-pound 7th-state ranked Humphry Quirie of Cuesta.

In the 157-pound weight class, Zepeda, ranked 8th in the state at 165 pounds, opened with a pin (1:27) over Rio Hondo’s Stephen Encinas. In the championship quarterfinals, Zepeda wrestled two points short of a win with an exciting 8-6 decision loss vs. top-seed Joe Romero of West Hills College.

Zepeda bounced back with a pin (1:24) over Rio Hondo’s Quinton Mireles, then won a 19-9 major decision over Moorpark’s Sergio Camacho. In the 3rd place quarterfinals, Zepeda wrestled to a huge upset with a pin (2:26) over the second-seeded Jessy Diaz of Palomar. Zepeda placed fourth after a loss by fall (1:34) to Romero.

165-pound freshman Daniel Briseno (Bell HS) tuned up for state with a pin in the Brawl vs. Isaac Talavera of USC. He was the 8th-seed and opened today with a pin (1:13) over Kevin Cuenca of Cuesta. Briseno lost to top seeded Kenneth Kirk of Cerritos College and followed with another pin (3:49) vs. Victor Valley’s Robert Kossman. Briseno won the 8th place medal.

174-pound sophomore Gabe Rodriguez wrestled 3-1 today in his third-place finish. He opened with an upset loss to West Hill’s Noah Collazo by fall (4:11). Rodriguez wrestled to a 19-4 win against Collazo on Sept. 23 at West Hills. Rodriguez fought back with a pin (0:57) over Jacob Mattson of Bakersfield College, a pin over Moorpark’s Robert Flores (6:39) and wrestled Collazo for third place. Rodriguez got revenge wrestling to a hard-fought 15-7 major decision win.

184-pound sophomore Ricardo Cortez (Warren HS), the 8th seed had the arduous task of wrestling top-seeded and 184-pound defending state champion Jeremy Maas of Bakersfield in the championship quarterfinals. Cortez didn’t appear phased, but eventually lost by fall b by fall. He wrestled with strength and power in the defeat. Cortez won the seventh-place match with an exciting 13-8 win over Victor Valley’s Wilfredo Choto.

197-pound sophomore Efren Velez (Schurr HS) placed 5th by wrestling 3-2 today. In the championship quarterfinals, Velez lost a 4-3 decision to Rio Hondo’s Andy Voong then pinned (2:00) Jared Latham of Victor Valley. Velez won a 10-3 decision over Ricky Garcia of West Hills, then lost a 6-2 decision against Kalan Sorenson of Palomar.

Velez, on a mission to advance to state and avoid another match for 6th place. He won 5th place with a strong 11-3 major decision win against Mt. San Antonio College’s Luis Garcia. Velez won ELAC’s first 197 pound bid to state since Ned Estrada did in 2015.

285-pound heavyweight class freshman Jonathan Vega (Warren HS) had the difficult task of competing against the 7th and 8th ranked heavyweight wrestlers in the state, Patrick Slatic of West Hills and Mt. SAC’s Christopher Alvizures. Although Vega lost both matches, he will return a veteran next year. 

The CCCAA Wrestling State Championships will be held at ‘The Avery Gymnasium’ on the campus of Cerritos College, Friday / Saturday, Dec. 7-8. Doors open at 9 a.m. both days. 

Follow ELAC Athletics at http://athletics.elac.edu/landing/index or on Facebook at ELAC Huskies Athletics (@elachuskiesathletics).   

story submitted by Tadzio Garcia