Valencia wrestlers qualify for CIF Divisional tourney after success at Tri-Valley League meet

Valencia's Nick Lopez throws Nordhoff's Nate Rhoades to the ground during the Tri-Valley League Championship in wrestling at Valencia High School on Wednesday, Feb. 7, 2018. Lopez pinned Rhoades in the first round. Nikolas Samuels/The Signal

At the Tri-Valley League wrestling finals at Valencia on Wednesday, Vikings football defensive coordinator Rob Waters stood in the gym, eyes glued to the mat.

“I’ve got to get my guys to wrestle,” he said, absorbed in the tenacity that the Valencia wrestlers brought.

There was no shortage of impressive moments at the league finals, as the Vikings had a wrestler from every weight class but three qualify for the CIF Divisional boys tournament after taking home a CIF-Southern Section title on Saturday.

Senior Anthony Galvez had one of the closest matches of the day in the finals, beating Chase Stewart of Santa Paula in a 9-5 decision for the 145 title.

“I think my conditioning was better than his,” Galvez said. “I kept pushing the pace, I kept attacking, trying to get my pin, but I think that I was in control the whole time.”

Chance Rich, another senior, had one of the fastest matches of the day, pinning Marco Pinos of Fillmore with nine seconds remaining in the first period for the 126 title.

Rich, a CSU Bakersfield commit, beat Pinos in last year’s league finals as well.

“I beat him pretty good. I pinned him last year and then I pinned him this year, too, so it was nothing new, really,” Rich said. “I knew I was going to come out and win. But I still got to play it safe.”

It was Valencia’s first time in program history hosting the Tri-Valley League finals. It created a little extra work for the coaching staff and extra excitement for the athletes.

“It kind of made me more excited to wrestle here, show everybody what Valencia wrestling is about,” said Galvez. “(We) won CIF titles just last Saturday and yeah, it just fueled me more to win. With all the excitement and the pressure on me, I feel like I had a more fun match.”

Senior Cory Faulconer, a three-time league champ, fell to Marco Ochoa of Fillmore in the 120 weight class finals.

“On any other day, I’d say Cory would beat him nine out of ten times,” said Rich, who had wrestled Ochoa in previous matches. “Sometimes if you go in with the wrong mindset, then it gets to you and you lose the match. Cory just kind of gassed out. He was getting frustrated in his match, so that’s the main reason why he lost that one.”

Israel Galvan, who was scheduled to wrestle in the 115 weight class, did not compete after leaving the team earlier in the week.

Valencia will compete in the CIF Divisional tournament on Friday, Feb. 16 and Saturday, Feb. 17. The girls team will wrestle in the CIF-SS Masters tournament on Friday, Feb. 9 and Saturday, Feb. 10.

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