By Tadzio Garcia
Four East Los Angeles College wrestlers advanced to the state finals after competing in the CCCAA Southern Regionals hosted by the Huskies Saturday in the men’s gym.
The ELAC team took eighth place, while Mt. San Antonio College won the team title.
Huskies that advanced include Hugo Perez, who also qualified last year in the 125-pound weight class, Adrian Herrera and Joseph Magdaleno-Hudson, both at 157 pounds, and William Amelong in the heavy-weight division.
Perez, No. 5-ranked at 125 pounds in the state, took third place at regionals with a pin at 2:59 over Christian Hauser. Hauser pulled Perez to the mat and was inching toward a pin. After struggling, Perez pushed backward, turned sideways and pinned Hauser.
“It was all so fast, but I stuck to my plan and knew I would edge him. I felt in control going into the match and nothing was going to change that,” Perez said.
At 157 pounds, Magdaleno-Hudson beat two ranked opponents to advance to state including a 10-3 upset in the fifth place match over Josh Cortes, No. 6-ranked in the state, from Cuesta College.
Herrera had a tougher time facing three ranked opponents. He bested Cortes in the third place semifinals, 4-3, then lost a 4-1 decision to Nathan Mateo who is ranked No. 3 in the state.
“I scored a point with about 20 seconds left and held on for the win (over Cortes). It doesn’t bother me if they are ranked or not. I have a job to do,” Herrera said.
Amelong upset Jerrod Dorado of Cuesta for seventh place in the heavy-weight division. He challenged sixth place winner William Smith, of Victor Valley College, and won. Smith keeps his sixth place medal while Amelong moves on to the state finals.
Frank Aceves ended his wrestling career at ELAC with his biggest college win, which was in his opening 184-pound match. Aceves upset Nathan Rodriguez of Mt. SAC, the No. 2-seed in Southern California.
“I was down by 14 points and he pushed me and I surprised him by going for a throw,” Aceves said.
Aceves had Rodriguez on the mat and recorded a pin with 38 seconds left in the match.
The home crowd erupted and Aceves had a win over one of the best wrestlers in the state in his weight division.
“I never gave up, even with defeat staring at you in the face,” Aceves said.
Rodriguez took third place although he was favored to wrestle for the 184-pound title. Aceves finished in eighth place.
ELAC’s Joseph Ovalle beat Vicente Alvarez of Victor Valley, 1-0, in the third place quarterfinals in the 197-pound weight class. Ovalle also placed eighth.
“It feels good. He had my number last week at the (ELAC) Brawl. I’m cutting weight and going 174 pounds next year. I’m going to make it to state and nothing is getting in my way,” Ovalle said.
ELAC’s Travon Harper ended his wrestling career with a loss, at 174 lbs, as Lukas Basham of West Hills College scored a pin at 2:11. Harper was then eliminated from the tournament. Basham placed fourth.
“I’m going to move on to Jiu Jitsu tournaments,” Harper said.
In the 133-pound weight division Huskies Josh Quezada placed eighth and Daniel Martinez was eliminated in the second round.
Lavante Chism also bowed out in the second round.
“After all the training and hard work I put in this season – not making it to state was devastating. I’ll use this season as my drive to be the best wrestler in state (next season) at my weight class,” Chism said.
Omar Ochoa ended his Husky career winning the seventh place match with a pin at 1:34 over Efrain Velasquez of Victor Valley. Ochoa, ranked all of last season, missed most of this year due to an illness.
“I didn’t make it to state where there are more scouts. I will wait to see what I am offered, to hopefully pursue wrestling at a four-year university,” Ochoa said.
ELAC didn’t have a wrestler in the 149-pound weight class. Injuries and illnesses kept the Huskies from being a powerhouse this season.
“That’s the nature of the sport. Hugo (Perez) did well and we are (advancing) four. I would like to thank the ELAC wrestling community who stepped up to volunteer, especially the alumni. We hosted the Regionals for the second year,” ELAC Head Coach Ralph Valle, in his 19th season, said.
Davit Hovhannisyan, No. 6-ranked at 125-pounds in the state, recently left the season injured, as did Rafik Hovhannisyan, who placed sixth in the 2011 state finals.
Last year the Huskies sent four wrestlers who scored enough points to place 10th overall. 2012 All-American Joshua Newman will not return as an assistant coach. He will transfer to California Baptist University in Riverside where he will wrestle.