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Wrestling: Empire athletes fare well at NCS championships

By PHIL BARBER
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

NEWARK — The 2013 North Coast Section wrestling championships were pretty good to Redwood Empire athletes. The final round? Not so much.

Seven Empire wrestlers made it to the finals Saturday at Newark Memorial High School. All seven lost. That included Perez Perez of Windsor, the No. 1 seed at 106 pounds. Perez was on the defensive from the start against Jared Luty of American in the final match of the night, and ended up losing 12-6.

The good news: The top three wrestlers at each weight are bound for the CIF championships at Bakersfield next Friday and Saturday, and 12 Empire boys are going.

Perez will be joined by his Windsor teammates Logan Fore at 126 pounds, Seth Trunick at 132, Trevor Silva at 138 and Oscar Rios at 196. The rest of the Empire contingent heading south on Thursday includes Brian Guerrero (113 pounds) and Joey Clay (152) of Rancho Cotate, Upper Lake’s Travis Coleman (152), Healdsburg’s Dominic Merlo (160), Fort Bragg’s Jacob Clark (182), El Molino’s Taryn Christiansen (182) and Sonoma Valley’s Aidan Lacy (220).

Perez, Fore, Guerrero, Clay, Merlo, Clark and Lacy all finished second in their respective divisions, while Trunick, Silva, Rios, Coleman and Christiansen fought out of the consolation bracket to finish third.

“I’m pumped, dude,” Coleman said. “I was shaking before the (third-place) match. I was asking myself, like, ‘What time should I eat? What should I eat? Should I take a nap?’ ”

The Empire very nearly sent a 13th wrestler to Bakersfield. Windsor sophomore Noah Au-Yeung lost one of the best matches of the day in the third-place showdown at 113 pounds. Au-Yeung took the lead late in the third round, lost it again, and came back to tie and send the action into a sudden-death period. He finally lost on a takedown.

Also losing their third-place matches and narrowly missing out of a trip to state were Ian Black of Healdsburg, who fell 9-5 to Coleman, and Jonny Amandoli of Sonoma, who came into the tournament unseeded and wound up dropping a narrow 2-1 decision to Rios in the make-or-break round.

Windsor finished third in the team standings with 201.5 points, behind only De La Salle (253) and James Logan (236.5). It was the top finish ever for the Jaguars, and one of the best in years among Redwood Empire schools.

Upper Lake finished eighth with 103.5 points, matching their status of one year ago, while Ukiah was tied for 10th with 89.5 points and Sonoma Valley was 12th with 88.

Everyone who qualified for state is happy to be going, but the immediate reaction varied Saturday. Perez looked miffed when he ascended the podium to receive his second-place medal.

“He got in a takedown, and he was on his knees pretty quick,” Windsor coach Rich Carnation said of Perez’s final match. “He kind of lost some traction. That happens. It’s OK, because he gets to wrestle again, as do these other guys. This was a chance for them to get it out of their system.”

Likewise, Christiansen was the No. 1 seed at 182 pounds but was upset in a semifinal match by De La Salle’s Devin Aiello, the eventual winner.

Windsor’s Silva, on the other hand, made it as a sixth seed, and it wasn’t easy. His opponent in the third-place match, Matt McCoy of Clayton Valley, was the guy who knocked Silva into the consolation bracket the previous day. The rematch was a standoff. Silva looked like he might break McCoy’s arm at one point, but the No. 3 seed held tough and the contest went into overtime scoreless.

“I’ve gone into overtime before, but not at 0-0,” Silva said.

He finally scored a reversal 17 seconds into the sudden-death period, punching his ticket to Bakersfield.

Silva’s teammate Rios was another close winner. He survived a bloody nose against Amandoli in the 195 third-place match and carried a 2-1 decision.

Fore, meanwhile, hurt his left elbow in his championship match against Artemio Flores of James Logan. Flores threw Fore down hard onto his face in the second round, and the referees let it go. It happened again late in the match, and Fore landed on the elbow.

“The first bring-down was a little tough,” Carnation said. “The second? I didn’t think it was very prudent, let’s say.”

The coach is confident Fore will be ready to go at Bakersfield.

“Logan’s a really tough, resilient kid,” Carnation said. “He’d have to have his arm hanging off to miss the tournament.”

Upper Lake, which had high hopes for 220-pounder Joe Valdez and 145-pounder Ward Beecher as well, didn’t hit its mark. (Beecher hurt his knee in the fifth-place match.) But coach Ron Campos is happy to be back at state with Coleman, his lightning-quick 152-pounder.

“He’s a thrower,” Campos said. “That’s why he’s got as good a chance as anyone. He’s a knockout-punch guy.”

You can reach Staff Writer Phil Barber at 521-5263 or phil.barber@pressdemocrat.com.

NCS WRESTLING CHAMPIONSHIPS

Team standings:

1. De La Salle 253

2. James Logan 236.5

3. Windsor 201.5

8. Upper Lake 103.5

T10. Ukiah 89.5

12. Sonoma Valley 88

17. Healdsburg 73.5

18. Rancho Cotate 68.5

T19. Lower Lake 62.5

Individual medalists (top 3 advance to state meet):

106 pounds:

2. Perez Perez, Windsor

7. Denny Layden, Montgomery

113 pounds:

2. Brian Guerrero, Rancho Cotate

4. Noah Au-Yeung, Wind.

8. Tony Lopez, Upper Lake

120 pounds:

5. Michael Klee, Cardinal Newman

6. Drew Esquivel, Healdsburg

7. Giordi Serafini, Sonoma Valley

126 pounds:

2. Logan Fore, Wind.

6. Sam Denning, SV

8. Evan Bluestone, Maria Carrillo

132 pounds:

3. Seth Trunick, Wind.

138 pounds:

3. Trevor Silva, Wind.

8. Dominick Dingess, Lower Lake

145 pounds:

5. Dray Payne, Ukiah

6. Ward Beecher, UL

152 pounds:

2. Joey Clay, RC

3. Travis Coleman, UL

4. Ian Black, Heald.

160 pounds:

2. Dominic Merlo, Heald.

7. Nathan Powers, Clear Lake

170 pounds:

5. Thomas Cross, LL

6. Isai Guzman, Wind.

182 pounds:

2. Jacob Clark, Fort Bragg

3. Taryn Christiansen, El Molino

195 pounds:

3. Oscar Rios, Wind.

4. Jonny Amandoli, SV

6. Neil Dondanville, FB

220 pounds:

2. Aidan Lacy, SV

5. Joe Valdez, UL

285 pounds:

6. Pablo Gonzalez, Ukiah

8. Jon Karlsson, UL