Gilroy High wrestling coach Greg Varela said the Mustangs wrestled with an undeniable “x-factor” Friday and Saturday at Independence High. And as the curtain closed on another Central Coast Section Championship meet, that “X” stood for a decade’s worth of section supremacy.
Aided by three individual titles and six other medalists, the Mustangs kept their strangle hold on the section crown, piling up 241 points to make it an unprecedented 10 CCS championships in a row Saturday night in San Jose.
“I’m proud. I’m happy. From top to bottom every single guy went to battle. And that’s all you want and all you ever ask for,” Varela said. “I love them. They inspire me. They have this x-factor that you can’t defend. Even at the end of the tournament, they are worn down, beat up, but they keep powering through. They flip that switch.”
As they did last season, the Mustangs had the title under wraps entering the championship final round, leading second-place Palma by 98.5 points as the night’s main festivities began. Gilroy increased the gap as the finals wore on, separating themselves from the Chieftains by 112 points and third-place St. Francis by 129.
Sophomores Paul Fox and Nikko Villarreal convincingly defended their titles. And senior Willie Fox, who had placed second in the tournament three years running, cast aside any and all lingering demons with a triumphant 6-0 decision over Luis Quintero of King City in the 145-pound final as chants of “Willie, Willie” rained down from a sea of supportive GHS contingent in blue.
“CCS – I finally got one,” said Fox, who is ranked No. 1 in California in his weight class. “It’s really cool to be a part of No. 10, too”
Varela made sure Fox received his kudos from the crowd, raising the senior’s arm one more time before exiting.
“Last year was so heart-breaking. It affected him. It really did,” Varela said. “He wanted this one. For Willie, I’m so glad. He deserves it.”
Paul Fox (126) faced his finals challenger, Travis Roberts of Serra, earlier in the season and came away with a close decision. This time around, he took a different approach and put together a 9-0 major decision.
“This time I wasn’t as cautious as I was the last time I wrestled him,” Paul Fox said. “I was going after him more and came out on top.”
Villarreal (132) methodically broke down Nick Ortiz of Palo Alto in a 20-5 technical fall victory. He promptly crossed his arms in an “X” and raised them to the crowd, who, in turn, showed off signs proclaiming the same.
“I like to get the fans involved in my matches,” Villarreal said. “It felt good winning that. I wanted to make a name for myself again.”
In a rematch of last season’s 120-pound final, Victor Olmos and Andre Delagnes of Menlo-Atherton squared off once more – and again delivered an edge-of-your-seat dual.
Last year, Olmos, a sophomore, stunned Delagnes with a last-second takedown to win 5-4. This time, though, Delagnes got his payback. Moments after Olmos earned an escape point to take a 3-2 lead, Delagnes pulled off a 2-point takedown with 10 seconds left to steal the match, 4-3.
“Victor wrestled from his heart,” Varela said. “He’s ready for state though. He has his goal and that’s to win state. That will stay the same.”
Earlier in the afternoon, Jesse Vasquez (106) and Jose Lara (285) rebounded from losses in the semifinals to place third and will join the Fox brothers, Olmos and Villarreal at the CIF State Wrestling Championships next Friday and Saturday in Bakersfield.
Aaron Gonzalez (fourth), Lupe Jimenez (sixth, 152) and Julian Cabajal (sixth, 182) earned valuable team points and also made the podium for GHS, but did not qualify for state.
The evening began with another Gilroy product making noise on the section’s center stage. Christopher High’s Jimmie Lopez controlled his 106-pound final against Palma’s Hunter Rehbein and won gold with a 10-0 major decision.
“Jimmie, the last few weeks, has vastly improved,” CHS coach Alecxis Lara said. “He wants to place in state and that’s the type of match he needs.”
Lopez, who entered as the No. 1-ranked 106-pounder, never relented in his match, leading 4-0 after two periods before picking up a pair of 3-point near falls in the third.
“I was basically thinking about doing it for my family and people who care about me,” Lopez said, eager to rush up and greet that family in the stands. “It feels great.”
Stevie White also made the podium for the Cougars, placing fourth at 285 pounds.
106: Jimmie Lopez (Christopher) over Hunter Rehbein (Palma), Maj 10-0
113: Isaiah Locsin (Live Oak) over Alexis Arciga (Overfelt), Pin 5:15
120: Andre Delagnes (Menlo-Atherton) over Victor Olmos (Gilroy), Dec 4-3
126: Paul Fox (Gilroy) over Travis Roberts (Serra), Dec 6-0
132: Nikko Villarreal (Gilroy) over Nicholas Ortiz (Palo Alto), TF 20-5
138: Zac Contreras (Riordan) over Alfred Murabito (Saratoga), Dec 7-1
145: Willie Fox (Gilroy) over Luis Quintero (King City), Dec 6-0
152: Jorge Barajas (St. Francis) over Jovan Villalobos (Alisal), Dec 6-2
160: Sam Hopkins (St. Francis) over Kalen Gans (Palo Alto), OT 3-2
170: Joe Else (Aptos) over Julian Morrisette (Riordan), Dec 15-8
182: Kodiak Sauer (Carmel) over Ryan Sarmiento (Palma), Dec 4-2
195: Danny Chaid (Bellarmine) over Graham Grant (Saratoga), Pin 1:58
220: Tim Glauninger (Serra) over Ben Landauer (San Lorenzo Valley), Dec 7-2
285: Jon Tuiolosega (Seaside) over Hidelv Manzur (Palma), 2-OT 3-2
Top-10 team finishers
1. Gilroy 241.0
2. Palma 129.0
3. St. Francis 111.5
4. Palo Alto 103.0
5. Serra 95.0
6. Aptos 93.5
7. Bellarmine 92.0
8. Mitty 81.5
9. Riordan 80.0
10. Los Gatos 79.5