Nathan Fier, left, of Santa Margarita gets into a little trouble with Josh Kawaguchi of Sonora but is able to turn the tables and win his 5th place match at the CIF-SS Individual Wrestling Championships at Rancho Santiago Canyon College Saturday.

O.C. wrestlers survive the cut

ORANGE – Win or go home.

It is a simple way to describe the fifth-place matches at the CIF-SS Individuals championships with the top five wrestlers in each weight class advancing to next weekend's CIF-SS Masters Meet at Temecula Valley High.

Several county wrestlers at Saturday's CIF-SS Southern Division tournament at Santiago Canyon College faced this scenario.

"Way too much," La Habra's Josh Sowma said when asked how much pressure he felt in the match. "There's no alternate spot (for Masters), so I had to show up or go home.

Sowma trailed 4-2 in his match against Mike Caan of St. John Bosco of Bellflower. Sowma tied the scored with a takedown and later finished things with a pin to secure a spot in the top five.

"I noticed he was giving up when he was at the edge of the mat, so I knew I could pull him in and finished it. I had to pin him because he was going to hit something because I could feel him start to circle over.

With new life on his season, Sowma hopes to find a spot in the top nine at the end of Masters. The top nine in each weight class moves on to the CIF State Tournament.

"All I have to do is get through that first match," Sowma said.

Santa Margarita's Nathan Fier (106), Sonora's Russell Rohlfing (113) and David Macias (138), Laguna Hills' Billy Brauberger (126), Sunny Hills' Tommy Valenzuela (132), Dana Hills' Austin Grimsley (145), Buena Park's Joseph Escobedo (152) and Orange Lutheran's Matt Hernandez (170) were the others to win their respective fifth-place match.

Fier defeated Josh Kawaguchi, 11-5 at 106 pounds. He was able to avenge an earlier loss to Kawaguchi, who defeated Fier, 6-2 Friday night.

"The first time, I wasn't on my game," Fier said. "I wasn't mentally ready to wrestle. Second time around, I had time to think about it and I wanted to go out win.

"There is a lot more pressure, because if you lose, you're out."

Laguna Hills led all county schools with 210.5 points, good for second place. The Hawks qualified eight for Masters, including Andre Cabrera who finished first at 152.

Other county champions include Aliso Niguel's Ian Michinock (138) and Logan Arguello (160), Santa Margarita's Jeff Holsinger (220) and Buena Park's Jesse Gomez (285).

San Clemente was third with 167 points and seven qualifiers. Fellow South Coast League teams Aliso Niguel and Dana Hills finished fifth and sixth, respectively. The Wolverines qualified five for next week and the Dolphins qualified four.

In all, the South Coast League teams (Laguna Hills, San Clemente, Aliso Niguel, Dana Hills and Capistrano Valley) combined for 25 medalists.

St. John Bosco claimed the team title with 218.5 points. The Braves qualified eight, including six as champions.

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