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JAN. 27, 2017 — Six teams. Five matches. Two mats. One site.
Welcome to Peninsula Athletic League Ocean Division wrestling.
Mills hosted the other five Ocean Division squads — Aragon, Menlo-Atherton, San Mateo, South City and Woodside — in the third week of league wrestling action. Not only did it go a long way in determining a division champion, it also featured a number of top Central Coast Section wrestlers, representing five different schools.
“I was against it last year when I was first introduced to it,” said South City coach Steve Matteucci. “But after seeing it run, the positives definitely outweigh the negatives.
“The atmosphere is way better. Bodies are in the seats, which will bring more families.”
The team match of the night was between division-leading Aragon and host Mills, where the Dons eeked out a 40-38 victory, winning the final match of the meet. The Dons won the first two matches by pin before Mills’ Sione Langi, ranked No. 2 in CCS at 222-pound class, won his match at heavyweight by pin and final round to give Mills its first points of the match.
Langi moved up weight class for the league season after the team lost its regular heavyweight. Langi could be outweighed by as many as 60 pounds wrestling with the big boys, but he looks at it as an opportunity to get stronger for when he does wrestle in his normal weight class.
“It is different,” Langi, a senior, said. “But it helps me be more prepared. I have to go hard, knowing they’re heavier than me.”
Langi has been dealing with an upper-body injury he suffered during the winter break and is still working his way back from that.
He was going up against a first-year wrestler Mike Mueller from Aragon, but he was hardly intimidated by Langi’s resume as he battled through nearly three rounds before finally getting stuck.
Aragon, however, has a pair of ranked wrestlers in its lineup and those two — Hans Canton and Isaiah Martin — gave the Dons 12 points with a pair of pins at 115 and 184, respectively.
Canton had an easy time in pinning his opponent in the first round, while Martin cruised to a 13-3 victory.
Canton, ranked No. 8 in CCS at 115, was in the unenviable — and awkward — position of facing a female opponent in Mills’ Nicole Leung.
But Canton believes if someone is willing to get on the mat with him, he treats them with the same amount of respect he does every wrestler.
“I’m told to wrestle as hard as you can. Don’t give up,” Canton said. “I just wrestle my match. That’s all I care about.”
Martin’s win at 184, where he is ranked No. 13 in CCS, turned out to be the winning points in the final match of the meet to keep Aragon in the driver’s seat for the Ocean Division title. With his team trailing 38-37, Martin dominated, picking up a quick five points with a 2-point takedown and 3-point nearfall. He kept working for it, but never quite squeeze out the pin, instead settling for the three points that gave Aragon a 40-38 victory.
The win keeps the Dons undefeated and atop the Ocean Division standings, with wins over their two closest pursuers — Mills and South City.
“I had a feeling it would be close,” said Aragon coach Carlo Altamarano. “Luckily our guy persevered.”
Mills would go on to defeat San Mateo, 48-30, in the final meet of the night to improve its record to 2-1 in division matches.
South City improved to 3-1 on the season with a 32-12 win over Woodside. The match featured two ranked wrestlers in the heavier weights — Woodside’s Fabian Gutierrez, ranked No. 7 at 184, and South City’s Luke Cruz, who is No. 2 in the heavyweight division, according to CCSrank.com.
Both were impressive in wins. Gutierrez, who moved up a class and wrestled at 195 Thursday night, had no problem with a heavier opponent, recording a technical fall. Cruz also had little trouble, winning his match by pin.
“I’d rather give him (Cruz) a match rather than an off day,” Matteucci said. “We want him working on things.”
M-A picked up its first team win of the season, barely getting past San Mateo, 33-30. The Bears have a ranked wrestler at 184, but Nick Ozden, ranked No. 8, did not get a chance to get any work in, winning his match by forfeit.
The individual match of the night came at 138 of the Mills-Aragon match where the Vikings’ Maata Faakaosita stunned everyone with her first-round pin. The whistle blew, she quickly got a takedown and flipped her opponent on his back and got the pin just like that.
Everyone but her Mills teammates and coach James McConchie were surprised. McConchie said Faakaosita is a transfer from the state at Washington — where she placed top-5 at the Washington state meet.
And Faakaosita pin was the second win of the night for the Mills girls against the Aragon boys. Mills’ Mandy Chung pulled out an 8-5 win at 106.
“We wouldn’t have been in the match if they (our girls) didn’t step up,” McConchie said.
Even though there is now a girls’ division at CCS, wrestling in one of few sports that is gender blind and many coaches, including McConchie don’t see any reason not to put the girls against the boys.
“[Wrestling is] all about motion, all about leverage, all about angles,” McConchie said. “Just go out and try.”