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CARLOS DELGADO , CONTRIBUTING PHOTOGRAPHER
Fountain Valley's Blake Vasquez, top, wrestles with Atascadero's Seth Burchfield in the 160 pound weight division during the CIF-SS Southern Division Individual Wrestling Championships at Marina High School in Huntington Beach on Saturday.

Wrestling preview: Fountain Valley's Vasquez motivated to have a happier ending

STAFF WRITER

Sometimes life gets in the way of dreams of athletic success.

That was the case for Blake Vasquez a few nights before the start of last year’s CIF-SS Masters Meet.

Days after winning a CIF title and helping Fountain Valley to its first CIF title since 1985, Vasquez was experiencing excruciating pain.

“I had stomach pains (during the week before Masters), but it felt like just a stomach ache,” he recalled.

“(That night), I went to sleep early, like 9 o’clock. I woke up early, like 3 and I couldn’t go back to sleep. ... I couldn’t even walk, my dad had to carry me to the car.”

As his teammates prepared for the CIF-SS Masters Meet, Vasquez underwent surgery to have his appendix removed.

Season over.

“It was rough,” said Robert Vasquez, Blake’s father and a Fountain Valley assistant coach.

“It actually ruptured two days before the time he went in. He had a fever and he was out of it.”

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Vasquez was released from the hospital in time to attend the final day of the Masters Meet. He watched as teammates Andrew Morgan (170), Stone Escobedo (182) and Ben Madrid (220) qualified for the state tournament.

“I was bummed out for a couple of weeks,” he said.

But he recovered quickly, both mentally and physically.

Two weeks after his surgery, he competed at the California Grade States tournament.

“I won that,” he said. “Now I’m preparing for the season.”

Vasquez played football for the Barons this fall, helping them to a second-place finish in the Sunset League and a berth in the CIF-SS West Valley Division playoffs.

“He’s been bugging me since his junior year (about playing football),” Robert Vasquez said of his son. “In fact, (football coach) Ray Fenton was the first guy (to visit) when (Blake) was in the hospital. That was a huge impact.”

Vasquez earned first-team All-Sunset League honors on the football field, recording more than 100 total tackles. He started the season at 185 pounds and he said he finished the season near 168 pounds, paving the way for a return to the 160-pound weight division this season.

He is eager to lead the Barons this season.

“Last year, Andrew (Morgan) set the standard,” Vasquez said. “Even though we had other seniors, he was the team captain. I feel like I need to step up more because I’m the only returning CIF champion and I’m the only one ranked in the state, so I feel like I need to step up more.”

NOTES

Tustin will be the site for one of the CIF-SS Girls Individual Regional qualifying championships, set for Feb. 6. … Elijah Palacio of Calvary Chapel is ranked 14th in the nation at 106 pounds, according to InterMat rankings. Jeremy Thomas of Calvary Chapel is ranked ninth at 152 pounds and Justin Thomas is 12th at 160 pounds. ... The CIF State championships for boys will remain in Bakersfield through 2020. The tournament moved from Stockton to Bakersfield in 2004.

Contact the writer: dcalhoun@ocregister.com


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