Grapplers come up short at state meet
By José A. López
For local wrestlers, the state CIF Championships provided a tough ending for what appeared to be a stellar season.
Poway and Rancho Bernardo high schools, which sent a dozen wrestlers to the top-level competition, came away with only one wrestler placing in the top 8.
Poway’s Porfi Sosa of overcame a tough pin in the consolation match to earn a fifth-place finish in the 215-pound division.
His accomplishment was one of the few bright spots for local wrestlers at the state meet.
Poway, which has finished in the top 5 at the state meet since 1995, finished in 15th place in the meet at the team level. The winner was Clovis High School, which was followed by Bakersfield Selma, De La Salle, and Lemoore.
Rancho Bernardo’s Evan McKirdy, who wrestled at 119 pounds, and Poway’s Henry Donahue, who wrestled at 160 pounds, finished just shy of earning a state medal, which are given out to the top eight wrestlers in each division.
Both seniors fell in the consolation matches on the second day of wrestling, ending one win short of a medal.
Coach Wayne Branstetter said the Titans had high hopes going into the state tourney, noting that they qualified 14 to the Masters Meet, the state qualifier, although Chad Gregory had to drop out with a concussion.
Sending eight grapplers to state was an accomplishment for the Titans, Branstetter added.
“At the state, we just lost some heartache losses, and then the wheels just fell off,” Branstetter said. “A couple of kids didn’t wrestled to their full potential, and some of the draws didn’t help us. It’s tough to put on exact cause on what happened.”
Instead of second-guessing the state meet, Branstetter said, the team focused on celebrating their CIF section and league championships, and the other accomplishments of the season.
Also, he added, reaching the state level is in itself an accomplishment, something that’s often overlooked given the Titans’ past glories. Branstetter noted that the state meet featured the top wrestlers in the state, representing 240 schools.
“That puts thing a little bit in perspective,” Branstetter said. “But that’s kind of the monster that we’ve created (with our success).”
Still, the coach added, the idea is to get this to be a learning experience for the wrestlers who will be staying with the team next year.
“You don’t sugarcoat it at all,” Branstetter said. “You have to let them know that as a team, it was a subpar performance, and that those things happen sometimes in sports.”
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