Downey loses CIF wrestling title

April Rios, Writer/Photographer

After four rounds of duals in the gym at Downey High, the varsity wrestling team lost the 2011-2012 San Gabriel Valley CIF title to Warren on Feb. 11 with a final score of 32-30.

Duals for the title began with sixteen schools competing against each other in a bracketed sequence.  A team could only progress in the brackets by beating the opposing school that round. In total, there would be four rounds, the fourth being CIF Finals.

The Vikings moved through the first and second round with celerity and points to spare. The initial line-up was mainly composed of various junior varsity wrestlers who had made their mark during season. After the first round, Coach Soto and Coach Rios began to integrate their key wrestlers into the matches. By the time the Vikes made it to semi-finals with a line-up composed mainly of those who would wrestle during finals.

Semi-Finals were intense matches; two wrestling mats were left and four teams competed to reach the final round. Downey and Nipomo took mat one, while Warren and Paramount took mat two. At this point, Downey realized that if they were to make it to finals, they would wrestle a team they had already competed against. The dual was decisive, with both teams gaining and losing the lead from match to match.  Eventually the Vikings managed to maintain a steady advantage and won their match 46 to 26.

As the Downey vs. Nipomo dual finished, spectators began to surround Warren’s mat. The tension and anticipation to see whom the Vikings would wrestle for the CIF title rose as spectators nervously awaited the outcome. Warren and Paramount tied their dual, leaving the decision to the wrestling criteria. After processing four criteria, the referees concluded that the Bears had won the dual because they had won the greater number of matches throughout the dual.

After six long hours of wrestling, the final and favored classic dual between Downey and Warren began. The home team had been defeated by the Bears once before and felt they had gained the strength, strategy, and team to defeat them. Nathan Amezcua, one of the team captains believed that “the dogs of war” were going to be able to win a third CIF title.

“We were thinking we had it. That was the best wrestling as a team the whole year. We were pretty confident,” Amezcua, 12, said.

The fans were overwhelmed with emotion throughout the dual. They chanted cheers from both sides of the gym; everyone focused on the only lit object of the room—the wrestling mat. Warren took the first two matches, then the Vikings recovered with two pins in the 156 and 164 weight classes. From then on, the Bears won the following four matches, but forfeited their match against senior Robert Chism.

As the lighter weight classes came about, Warren maintained the advantage with a score of 27-18. Unfortunately, the 102 and 117 pound wrestlers lost their matches, leaving any chance of recovery to Daniel Martinez, 11. The wrestlers went three periods without scoring any points and the match went into a minute overtime; the first person to get a takedown would win the match. Overtime ran out and neither competitor had received any points. The referees called a second, third, and fourth overtime with no luck. Ten minutes and thirty seconds after the match had begun the referees were forced to call the winner out of criteria; the winner of the match was Warren. Downey spectators knew they had lost, as the Warren fans cheered and congratulated, but the dual was not over yet. With two weight classes left, the Bears decided to forfeit those matches because there was no need to gain more points. The final score was 30-34.  Some of the devoted fans shared the taste of defeat beside their beloved wrestlers, but did not lose faith for next season.

“Even though they lost, they wrestled with their hearts,” wrestling statistician Leslie Flores said.

Downey lost what would have been their third back-to-back CIF title, but the hard work was not a complete waste. Coach Soto’s boys had made it to CIF Finals for the fourth year in a row, with twelve wrestlers going to CIF Individuals on Feb. 18. Robert Chism, 12, and Anthony Florido,10, took the second and third places and will be wrestling at masters in an attempt to make it to the state wrestling tournament. It is Florido’s first time wrestling CIF and he is aiming high.

“Hopefully [I] place at state and make it to the state tournament,” Florido, 10, said.

Robert Chism and Anthony Florido are preparing with Coach Monico for their matches at masters and are hoping to end the season on a positive note.