By Tadzio Garcia
The wrestling team walked in the Mt. San Antonio College Duals last Saturday an underdog and left with a fourth place finish out of nine teams in total.
Each of the teams placed in the top-14 at last year’s state finals. The Huskies won their pool and advanced to the championship round losing to eventual champion Palomar College, 38-9, and Bakersfield College, 37-11. The Huskies will be on the road Saturday to tussle in the Bakersfield Duals all day.
East Los Angeles College was ranked No. 17 in the state last year entering the championship finals and ended their season with upset wins on the mat to tie for 11th place. At Mt. SAC, the Huskies faced West Hills and Santa Ana colleges in pool play and Palomar and Bakersfield colleges in the championship round. “These were all good programs here today (at Mt. SAC). I know where we are at and what we need to do,” said ELAC 18-year Head Coach Ralph Valle, who has coached three top-10 ELAC teams.
Top wrestlers for the Huskies at Mt. SAC were Joseph Padilla who recorded a 3-0 record for the day, Julian Zuniga (3-1), Joshua Newman (3-1) and Michael Middlebrooks (3-0). “I returned to the team after taking year off to focus on my education. I thought the other kids would be better instead I am happy with my results. I learned I need to focus on my riding time,” said Middlebrooks.
Zuniga and Newman each won by fall against West Hills College. Their pins helped the Huskies post a 25-20 victory over West Hills in pool play. The Golden Eagles were leading 20-11 when ELAC began a late rally.
At 184 pounds, Middlebrooks scored an 11-5 decision over Michael Andersen, followed by the two ELAC pins for the upset. “I was nervous in my first college experience, then just did what I was supposed to do,” said Middlebrooks, who was recruited by his high school coaches to attend ELAC. “I was told that working with coach Valle would be the best thing for me and it is,” said Middlebrooks.
Andrew Reel added points to the Husky win over West Hills with a 15-7 major decision at 165 pounds over Andrew Roorda. Padilla added a 10-8 decision over Beau Gonzales at 133 pounds followed by Adrian Virgen’s 6-2 win at 149 pounds to round out the Husky scoring against the Golden Eagles.
An ELAC rally against Santa Ana College, which began with a 20-9 deficit, fell short as the Dons eked-out a 23-21 victory. Point-hungry Huskies against the Dons were Hugo Perez, who won by pin, Padilla (decision), Newman (pin) and Zuniga (pin).
Highlights for the Huskies in the Palomar loss was a Newman 10-10 tie against Augustine DeSantis at 184 pounds, which was an 11-10 DeSantis decision based on accumulated riding time. According to Valle, the Huskies will improve as the season moves forward culminating with our strongest men at their peak in the post season. ELAC will host the state semifinals this year, the South Regional Championships on December 1.