Wrestling: Second place finish at SoCal Regionals advances 11 wrestlers

File Photo: Zack Gonzalez won the SoCal championship at 174 pounds
File Photo: Zack Gonzalez won the SoCal championship at 174 pounds


On Saturday at Rio Hondo College, the Cerritos College wrestling team finished in second place as a team and have advanced 11 wrestlers to the CCCAA State Championships. The Falcons, who are hosting the state championships next Friday and Saturday, won two individual weight titles and finished with 131 team points. Palomar College won the SoCal championship and picked up three individual champions and had 152 team points.

Sophomore Joshua Brown (Esperanza HS), who was an All-American at 133 pounds last season, captured the championship at 141 pounds by winning three matches. As the top-seed in the weight class, Brown received two byes to start the tournament and then opened with a 12-2 win over Victor Diaz of Cuesta College. He escaped Aaron Diaz of Mt. San Antonio College in the semifinals with a 6-5 victory and capped off the day with a convincing 13-6 triumph over Eric Reyes of Palomar in the championship match.

The other individual champion for the Falcons was sophomore 174-pound Zack Gonzalez (Lakewood HS). A seventh place finisher at the state championships while competing at 184 pounds his freshman season, Gonzalez was the top seed entering the regional championships. He also earned a pair of byes and had to battle past Jacob Mattison of Bakersfield College in his first match with a 3-1 decision. Gonzalez responded by pinning Noah Collazo of West Hills-Lemoore College in :52 seconds in the semifinals and defeated Cameron Cox of Palomar, 13-4 to win the championship.

The Falcons also had three other wrestlers advance to the championship match, but came up short. At 149 pounds, sophomore Devin Daugherty (Cypress HS) earned his way to the finals, but was forced to default due to an injury. He was hurt in his semifinal match against freshman teammate Larry Rodriguez (Santa Ana Calvary Chapel HS), who he defeated, 9-7, with Rodriguez concluding the way with an 11-4 win to finish in third place. Both wrestlers earned technical fall wins on their way to their matchup in the semifinals.

Top-seeed Kennith Kirk (Lake Elsinore HS), who has missed most of the season due to an injury, opened the 165-pound tournament with a pair of byes and then pinned the first two opponents he faced by a combined 1:24. He then lost a close championship match to Mace Anderson of Palomar, who pinned him with :40 seconds left in the match. In his freshman season in 2016, Kirk took seventh place at the state championships. Freshman Jarrod Nunez (Mayfair HS) advanced to the finals at 184 pounds when top-seed Jeremy Maas of Bakersfield College was forced out of the tournament with an injury prior to their match. Nunez, who pinned Victor Bryson of Cuesta College in his only match of the day, was defeated, 13-4 by #2-seeded Nick Kimbrall of Palomar in the finals.

Also qualifying for the state championships were freshman 125-pound Joshua Mendoza (Warren HS), who came in fifth place; freshman 133-pound Jose Espinoza (Paloma Valley HS), who placed fifth; sophomore 141-pound Nick Camacho (Paramount HS), who finished in sixth place; freshman 157-pound Jesse Pacheco (Temescal Canyon HS), a fifth place finisher and freshman 285-pound Randy Gonzalez (Lakewood HS), who posted a fourth place finish.