Evidence indicating Valencia High wrestling is rapidly improving has turned up again and again this season.
The results of the CIF-Southern Section Individual Championships, which took place on Feb. 17 and 18 at Santiago High of Corona, adds to that list.
The Vikings had four wrestlers place fourth or higher at the event, qualifying them for the CIF-SS Masters Championships on Friday and Saturday. Last year, only one wrestler advanced.
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“We have the toughest Masters bracket in the state and the toughest weight class, but I still think we’re in a good position to move on and I’m just real excited about the team,” said coach Brian Peterson.
First-year wrestler Israel Galvan (113 pounds) placed fourth, Chance Rich (120) placed second, Derrick Top (152) placed fourth and Ben Gould (170) earned third.
Cory Faulconer (126) and Nick Lopez (160) placed seventh.
As a team, the Valencia boys placed sixth out of 51 schools.
“Everybody on the team that placed is coming back,” Peterson said. “Next year we’re going to do even better.”
Also worth noting: Roxy Ramirez placed fifth at the girls state qualifying tournament and will wrestle at the state finals this weekend.
Rich, who is Valencia’s most accomplished wrestler after making it to the state tournament last year, was second to sophomore Luciano Arroyo of Calvary Chapel.
Arroyo finished in seventh at 113 pounds at the state tournament last year and is currently ranked third in the state according to Cal Grappler and The California Wrestler.
Rich lost to Arroyo last year in the first-place match at the Masters meet and earned second.
“He just doesn’t like losing,” said Peterson of Rich. “It’s all right. We want to get (Arroyo), but up to this point, we haven’t been able to beat him.”
The Masters meet will consist of a 32-man bracket for each weight class. Wrestlers much place within the top nine of their class to move on to the state championships.
“You just try to win matches. Right now we’re getting ready,” Peterson said. “(It’s) the toughest section in the state. It won’t be easy at all, but it’s going to be fun.”