UNION CITY — Perez Perez outdueled every 152-pounder at the North Coast Section championships and outdid almost every wrestler from the Redwood Empire. Those weren’t necessarily the competitions that concerned him most.
“It means a lot,” Perez said after winning the trophy as section champion. “Especially this year, because I surpassed my older brother. He took second as a junior.”
The older sibling is also named Perez Perez (they have different middle names), and he also qualified for the CIF state championships. But he never won an NCS title. The latest version, Perez David Perez, sure did. He vanquished Miramonte’s Skylar Wright in the 152-pound final.
Analy’s Trevor Bagan is a champion, too. He captured the crown at 113 pounds in the second-to-last match of Saturday night at James Logan High School.
That duo will be joined next week at the state tournament by eight other Redwood Empire wrestlers. Upper Lake’s Jose Fernandez (126), Windsor’s Luke Au-Yeung (145), Healdsburg’s Anthony Merlo (170), Ukiah’s Dylan Miles (220) and Cardinal Newman’s Gunnar Hayman (285) finished second in their respective weight classes, and Newman’s Jake Butler (132), Windsor’s Steven Allee (160) and Maria Carrillo’s Cameron Casey (170) all finished third, good enough for a trip to Rabobank Arena in Bakersfield.
“I am excited,” Allee said after grinding out a 2-0 victory against James Logan’s Noah Mohapatra in the do-or-die third-place match. “I wasn’t really expecting to. I don’t think a lot of people, except for my coaches, were expecting me to get to state. But I don’t like to lose, and that seemed to get me where I needed to be.”
Most of the Empire state qualifiers are first-timers. Among them, only Perez, Hayman and Casey wrestled in Bakersfield last year.
Casey, a senior, thinks he’ll be better prepared in 2017.
“A hundred percent,” the senior said. “There’s a tunnel that you walk through, and it’s scary as (bleep). But I’ll be ready for it this time.”
Windsor, the program that has dominated local boys wrestling in recent years, fell back into the pack this season as rivals like Ukiah and Cardinal Newman made up ground. But the Jaguars showed they aren’t ready to relinquish their title just yet. They finished fourth, tops among Empire schools. Ukiah was sixth and Newman eighth. De La Salle dominated the overall competition to finish first.
Bagan showed smarts and determination in the 113-pound final. His opponent, Jake Lilienstein of De La Salle, spent the first round attempting what Analy coach Jimmy Stevens described as a two-on-one Russian, in which a wrestler methodically pushes his foe to the edge of the circle and more or less dares him to attempt a last-second move. Bagan didn’t bite, and the round was scoreless.
As the match progressed, the Tigers junior began to assert himself. Bagan took a late lead on a single shot to the leg that turned into a double shot, and held on for a 5-3 win.
Perez showed his versatility in the 152-pound final, outmuscling Wright at some points and out-quicking him other times. The Miramonte wrestler spent much of the last two periods trying to escape Perez from the bottom position, with almost no success. Perez credits Windsor assistant coaches Cody Howe and Trevor Silva with helping him improve his top game.
GIRLS WRESTLING TOURNAMENT
Four Empire girls wrestlers finished in the top 10 of their respective weight classes at the CIF state tournament Saturday in Visalia.
Upper Lake High School junior Christina Wilson finished third in the 126-pound competition, beating Haley Valdez of San Dimas High in an 8-3 decision.
Wilson’s Upper Lake teammate, sophomore Adriana Lopez, captured sixth place in the 116-pound weight class.
Two Casa Grande High School wrestlers also claimed top-10 spots. Freshman Lillian McCoy finished sixth in the 235-pound division, while junior Brigitte Mihalca finished seventh at 121 pounds.
Other Empire competitors at the two-day tournament included Analy senior Kim Juarez, Windsor senior Yulisa Medrano, Middletown sophomore Alixe Olson, Kelseyville sophomore Jasmin Clarke and Ukiah senior Kylee Winzler.
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