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Wrestling recap: Great escapes, clutch falls
OCVarsity takes a look at the regular-season highlights and top performances.
The race to Bakersfield and the CIF State Tournament started last week with the league finals.
After this weekend's CIF-SS Dual championships, all attention will be focused on qualifying for Bakersfield.
But before that happens, here is a look back at the top 10 moments of the regular season.
1. San Clemente vs. Laguna Hills
This was easily the dual of the year as top-ranked Laguna Hills met No. 2 San Clemente in a South Coast League showdown. The Hawks led, 29-25, going into the final match, but San Clemente's Rick Simpson pulled off the pin at 152 pounds, the final match of the night, to give the Tritons a 31-29 victory.
2. Steele Escobedo swarmed by his fans
Fountain Valley finally had a finalist in the Five Counties Invitational, the two-day tournament hosted by the Barons. Steele Escobedo (145) made the finals and faced Ricky Padilla of Northview of Covina. Escobedo trailed, 2-1, but he scored a reversal with 15 seconds remaining to pull off the 3-2 victory. As soon as his hand was raised as the victor, Escobedo was swarmed by a large group of Fountain Valley wrestlers, who carried him off the mat. He was the first Fountain Valley champion at Five Counties in more than 30 years.
3. Alex Redmond arrives
The Five Counties Invitational is a tough place to get your season started, but that's exactly what Los Alamitos heavyweight Alex Redmond did. Redmond, in his first real test of the season, dominated the competition, winning five matches by fall. He was picked as the Upper Weight MVP.
4. The streak lives
Laguna Hills entered this season having won 25 consecutive league titles. After losing to San Clemente early in the season, the streak was in doubt going into the South Coast League finals. The Hawks went out and scored 216 points, finishing with six individual champions and 13 CIF qualifiers to keep the streak alive.
5. Mason Kumashiro dominates
Los Alamitos' Mason Kumashiro opened the regular season in a dominating way. The 195-pounder won six tournaments, including Five Counties and the Doc Buchanan Invitational. The senior only suffered one loss all season.
6. Yorba Linda wins first league title
The Mustangs took a big step as a program by winning their first league title. This is the third year as a varsity team for Yorba Linda and only the fourth as a program. The Mustangs qualified 13 from league finals for the CIF Individuals.
7. Early-season victory goes to Santa Ana
Fifth-ranked Santa Ana met No. 8 Los Alamitos in an early-season dual. Emilio Tapia, who was on the frosh/soph team last season, clinched the victory, defeating Duncan Carlton by fall with four seconds left in their match. The Saints escaped with the 32-29 victory.
8. El Modena takes a big jump
The Vanguards had one medalist at Five Counties. The experience appears to have paid off. At the Century League finals, El Modena had 13 qualifiers (tied for the most in the league) and finished with three individual champions.
9. Sunset League finishes tied ...again
This makes my top 10 only because I like it when teams finish tied for league titles. This year, Fountain Valley, Marina and Los Alamitos all finished at 4-1. The Vikings defeated Los Alamitos, which defeated Fountain Valley, which beat Marina, forcing the three-way tie.
10. Servite's Jason Cone springs an upset
Cone pulled off of the biggest upset victory of the season when he defeated previously unbeaten Mason Kumashiro, 3-1, in the 195-pound match at the OCWCA All-Star Classic. Cone had lost to Kumashiro earlier in the season, 11-5.