Liam Cronin from Servite wrestles Cade Olivas in the championship round in the 106-weight class during the 2015 CIF State Wrestling, at Rabobank Arena in Bakersfield.

Servite's Cronin finishes second in state at 106


BAKERSFIELD – Liam Cronin’s dream of winning a CIF State wrestling title was denied Saturday night, but his final-match loss serves as motivation to drive him next year.

Cronin, a junior from Servite, ran into Trinity League rival Cade Olivas of St. John Bosco in the 106-pound final at Rabobank Arena, and for the fourth time this year, Olivas got the better of Cronin, winning 12-4.

“My goal coming into this year was to be a state champion,” Cronin said. “It will always be. I’m kind of proud, but I have to keep working hard.”

Cronin said that having faced Olivas four times will only help him as he continues his progression toward his senior year.

“I have to work on my angles, getting faster, stronger, taking a lot of his techniques, looking at video, looking at weaknesses,” Cronin said.

“He’s a stud, but it is kind of hard to find out. But I have to keep working.”

Cronin is the first state finalist for the Friars. He entered this weekend ranked sixth in the state.

“When you wrestle the No. 1 kid in the country and you wrestle 12-4, there are some things we can go back and work on,” Servite coach Alan Clinton said.

“I think the future is bright for him. That’s what makes him such a competitor, he doesn’t like to lose.”

Along the way to the final, Cronin avenged a loss to Randon Miranda (Quartz Hills). Miranda defeated Cronin, 12-4, last week. He opened Saturday against Miranda and pulled off a 9-7 victory.

“I knew I was going to face him in the semifinals,” Cronin said. “I had a week to prepare.”

Cronin began wrestling as a freshman. He’s taken huge steps each year. He finished sixth at CIF as a sophomore.

“It has been a lot of hard work,” he said. “I’ve been doing whatever I could to be the best. Even getting my butt kicked day in and day out … it has been a lot of hard work.”

Cronin’s teammate Michael Vasquez finished seventh at 182 pounds.

Andrew Morgan (Fountain Valley) lost to Josh Hokit (Clovis) in the semifinals, but battled his way back with consecutive victories by fall to secure third place at 170 pounds.

“It feels good to come back and finish high school with a win,” Morgan said. “Before, it would have been really tough, like in my sophomore or junior year, (to bounce back after a loss), but I’ve matured a lot this year. It wasn’t too bad.

“I kind of know that us three (Anthony Valencia and Hokit) have really separated from the pack compared to everyone else, so it was a little easier to accept that loss (in the semifinals). It was tough nonetheless … one-point loss in the state semis is brutal, but it is a lot easier to want to come back and finish up strong.”

Also at 170, San Clemente's Mike Marshall finished fifth and Mater Dei's Jed Smith was seventh. Smith is the first state medalist for the Monarchs since 1990.

Western’s Leangelo White posted the school’s best performance since 1983 with his fourth-place finish at 182 pounds.

Sonora's Russell Rohlfing (126) and Yorba Linda heavyweight Abe Ochoa both finished sixth at their weights.

Loara’s Steven Ahumada was eighth at 220 pounds.

Dexter Viengvilay (Laguna Hills, 106); Ryan Gutierrez (Brea Olinda, 113); Noah Blakley (Servite, 126); Mater Dei’s Trevor Perez (138) and Servite heavyweight VJ Leuta lost their first match Saturday and were eliminated.

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