Valencia senior Alex Lopez got his wrestling season going in a big way this past weekend, winning the Downey 32 tournament held at Downey High School.
Wrestling at 175 pounds, Lopez pinned nearly every opponent within the first two periods until the championship bout, which saw him win by an 8-2 decision.
“It wasn’t a surprise,” Valencia head coach Brian Peterson said in a phone interview with The Signal. “When we saw that he was seeded third, it definitely made me think, ‘Oh, wow, they think they have a better kid than us.’ But I definitely knew we were capable. I knew that the opponents weren’t returning state place winners or anything, so I definitely thought we could win.”
Valencia junior Dayle Cailles took fourth at 113 pounds, while teammate Om Kulkarni placed seventh in that bracket.
Cailles won his first two bouts by fall before picking up an 11-4 decision in the quarterfinals. South Hills’ Christian Montoya then took Cailles out of the championship bracket through a 9-1 major decision.
Cailles was able to bounce back and win in the consolation semifinals with an 11-4 decision but was stifled by Temescal Canyon’s Braxdon O’Brien in the third-place match, losing via a 3-2 decision.
Peterson thinks that Cailles could have done much better had he been able to wrestle at 106 pounds, but was proud of him nonetheless.
“He did well,” Peterson said. “He got in positions we struggle with and that’s something we’re going to work on in the room this week. I mean, he performed great, he fought hard and made it to the semifinal, just lost to the eventual champion.”
Kulkarni won his first two bouts by major decision but was unable to advance in the quarterfinals, dropping a 7-5 sudden victory decision. Sudden victory is a form of overtime in wrestling in which the two opponents wrestle in a one-minute period that stops when either one scores.
Dropping to the fourth round of the consolation bracket, Kulkarni won by fall in the first period and then lost by a 10-8 decision in the consolation fifth round. Kulkarni then won by a 3-2 decision in the place match.
“He didn’t do as well as I think he could have, but it’s still good for him,” Peterson said.
Trinity Classical Academy’s Hudson Sweitzer also competed as the lone wrestler for the Knights. The sophomore placed fourth at 190 pounds, falling in the place match via a 6-3 decision.
“Going into it, I was strong,” Sweitzer said in a phone interview with The Signal. “The guy who beat me, it was a match, he deserved it.”
To get to that point, Sweitzer won by fall in the first period in his first two bouts and then by a 7-4 decision in the quarterfinals. Paramount’s Keyshawn Smith pinned Sweitzer in the semifinals before Sweitzer advanced to the third-place match with a fall.
Valencia also saw sophomore Evan Payne place seventh at 144 pounds. He won his first two bouts via decisions before being sent to the consolation bracket with a third-period pin in the quarterfinals.
Payne went on to win in the place match with a second-period pin.
“He’s a very good athlete and he listens really well, incredible listener,” Peterson said. “He was impressive. He’s gonna be good, for sure.”
Sweitzer is scheduled to be at most of the tournaments that Valencia competes in throughout the season, though not for dual meets. The Vikings have two scheduled for Thursday, both at Moorpark High School as they take on the Moorpark Musketeers and the Royal Highlanders.
After that, the Vikings will be heading to Lancaster on Saturday for the High Desert Duals at Lancaster High School.