Cavalry Chapel's Justin Thomas, left, and Fountain Valley's Blake Vasquez wrestle in the 160-pound final during the Five Counties Invitational. Thomas won, 5-0.

Calvary Chapel has three winners at Five Counties


FOUNTAIN VALLEY – All eyes are always on the Thomas Brothers (Justin and Jeremy) whenever they’re on the wrestling mats, and for good reason.

They’re both ranked No. 1 in the state at their respective weights (Justin at 160 pounds and Jeremy at 170) and nationally.

With Jeremy sitting out this weekend’s Five Counties Invitational, that meant added attention on Justin, but it didn’t affect his performance.

Calvary Chapel’s Justin Thomas capped the weekend with a 5-0 victory over Fountain Valley’s Blake Vasquez to win the championship belt at 160 pounds Saturday night at Fountain Valley High.

“I’ve gotten used to it,” Thomas said of the attention. “After my freshman year, a lot of guys would surround the mat and watch my match, so I had to get used to it and just block out the noise and commotion.

“When I step out on the mat, I don’t hear anything but my coaches.”

In his final match Friday night, Thomas drew a large audience around his mat as he ended the first day. He opened Saturday with a 6-1 victory and then received a forfeit victory to advance to the final.

In the final, Thomas scored the first points, a takedown in the first period.

“I expected it to be what it was,” Thomas said. “I got the job done. The whole team did excellent. I think this is one of our better tournaments of the year so far.”

Thomas was one of three Calvary Chapel wrestlers to win titles Saturday night. Elijah Palacio (106) and Johnny Knowles (145) were the others.

“I think he performed really well,” Calvary Chapel associate head coach Sal Garcia said. “He seemed very confident going into the match. Right away he got the takedown in the first period and that set the tone. He beat a tough opponent.”

Knowles wrestled up a weight class, after competing for the earlier portion of the season at 138. Garcia said they wanted to test Knowles at the new weight and he passed.

“He wrestled well,” Garcia said of Knowles. “He might be staying there (at 145). We’ll see how he feels and I think he’ll do just as well at 145s as he would at 138s.”

Luciano Arroyo (113) lost in the final to another wrestler that’s always drawing attention when he’s on the mats, Servite’s Liam Cronin.

Cronin won two matches by fall, two by technical fall and two by decision to receive Lower Weight MVP honors.

Cronin helped lead Servite to a second-place finish, best among county teams with 167 points. Calvary Chapel was fourth with 158.5.

The Friars had six medalists, including finalists Troy Madrigal (145) and Parker Saltzman (220). Marcos Polanco (106) was sixth, Wolfgang Bernal was fourth at 138 and Michael Jurado was seventh at 152.

Calvary Chapel also had six medalists. Gabe Collins (152) and Morris Wilner (182) both finished sixth.

Lukas Howa (Trabuco Hills) advanced to the final at 170, but was defeated by Anthony Mantanona of Palm Desert by technical fall.

Howa's teammates Trey Munoz ended up fourth at 113 pounds and Jason Sarabia (152) was fifth.

Santa Ana had a trio of medalists with Ricardo Navarrete (126) and Alex Blanco (220) both finishing fifth and Joey Daniels finishing seventh at 195.

Aside from the finalists, Mater Dei’s Jed Smith (182) had the best overall finish. Smith who, lost in the quarterfinals to Jake O’Brien of Chaminade, fought back to finish third.

Villa Park had a pair of medalists with Josh Luton (132) and Diego Jimenez (120), finishing fourth and eighth, respectively. 

Karson Ayres (Fountain Valley) was eighth at 138 as was Marina's Peter McCoy (160) and El Dorado's Angel Verduzco (182).

Sonora's Josh Kawaguchi advanced to the semifinals, but defaulted the rest of the way to end up sixth at 160. 

Yorba Linda's Dillon Herrera was seventh at 170.

Selma finished first in the team standings with 233 points.

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