So close to reaching the CIF title


Berenis Mendez

On February 8, Sebastian Soto, 12, shakes his opponent’s hand before starting his match, at Quartz Hill High School. Before every match the wrestlers shook hands, in order to show each other respect and be sportsmanlike.

Mizhelle Cortes, Writer/ Business Team

On Sat., Feb. 8, Quartz Hill High School in Lancaster hosted the CIF Southern Section Team Championships for Division 4 wrestling. Downey High School’s varsity wrestling team made its way to the fourth round, but finished as runner-up after competing against Bloomington High School resulting in a score of 49-15.

The morning started as all 16 participating schools were ordered to enter the locker rooms for weigh-in and grooming at 9 a.m. While wrestlers were being weighed in, spectators made their way to the gym and bleachers, paying the $10 general admission or $5 student fee. As the crowd filled the room and ate their snacks, wrestlers from the different schools shared the mat to perform their practice drills and stretch before their matches, which started at 11 a.m.

Downey’s wrestling team waited one round for the two other schools to complete since the matches were in a bracketed sequence, meaning the winning team advances to the next round in hopes of reaching the fourth and final round. Downey first competed with Alemany High School, with senior Benjamin Cuellar gaining the lead and adding the first points to the score. Downey won the first round with a score of 60-9.

With a break to spare, the wrestlers made their way to the bleachers and watched the other schools dual while prepping for their round. Senior Antonio Santana, who has been wrestling for three years, was one of the 14 varsity wrestlers hoping to win the CIF title.

“I train every day from 6 in the morning to 8,” Santana said. “We go in the wrestling room and drill or wrestle. I don’t really train differently and I just take it as a regular season. Before the match, I usually just eat peanut butter and jelly and drink Aloe Vera, water, or Gatorade.  I don’t really get nervous since this is my third time already being in CIF, so I’m kind of used to it.”

For the second round, Downey competed with Quartz Hill High School. Although Quartz Hill had a home court advantage, they were defeated by Downey’s team with a score of 43-27. They advanced to the third round, closer to reaching the main event: CIF Finals.

Downey remained strong in the third round, winning against California High School with a score of 41-31. Among the audience in the bleachers were parents and friends of the wrestlers rooting for Downey. One fan among the crowd named Stephanie Dominguez witnessed her first wrestling match.

“I didn’t really expect a wrestling match to be so interesting,” Dominguez said. “Every little moment caught my attention and I found myself cheering loudly for the teams and sometimes even found myself at the edge of my seat. I’m glad I came and was able to see this CIF game.”

As the final round came around, the two mats were taken away and one red mat was set in the middle of the gym floor for Downey and Bloomington High School. Downey was up against a team that had already won the CIF Southern Section Dual Meet Championship for four consecutive years. For the first match, Bloomington’s Richard Lopez defeated a 106 pound Mark Lopez and gained a 3-0 lead. Andrew Lopez, wrestling for Downey, won the second match and added points to the team’s score; however, Bloomington kept gaining points and dominated in the lighter weight classes. Dylan Moreno, as well as Benjamin Cuellar, was among the ones to add points for the team. With Bloomington’s consecutive pins, Downey made an effort to put up a long lasting match, but lost with a total score of 49-15.

One of the senior wrestlers, Stephen Chavez, felt the whirl of emotion of being so close to winning CIF.

“At first, I felt kind of nervous, but also more excited since it was CIF and it’s my last year,” Chavez said. “I was disappointed that we didn’t take first place.”

Despite their loss, the Downey wrestling team’s season is not over and they still have a chance at winning for CIF individuals and League Finals. Even with second place for CIF, the 2013-2014 wrestling team are San Gabriel Valley League Champions.