Prep Wrestling: Poway High’s Tovar no longer under the radar
By Michael Bower
It’s hard to imagine that any Poway High wrestler can fly under the radar these days.
But Ralphy Tovar did about as well as you can do on the mat without garnering too much attention … until three weeks ago.
The 132-pound sophomore has been piling up the victories since last year, when he finished second at the CIF San Diego Section Masters and advanced to the state championships at 126 pounds.
That alone should have made him a household name around wrestling mats in San Diego, but there was something missing from his resume that allowed others to keep him out of the category of elite grapplers. That something was a tournament title.
“People kind of knew who I was, but I was under the radar there for a while,” said Tovar, who is 33-5 heading into Thursday’s final Palomar League dual meet with rival Rancho Bernardo.
Tovar officially landed on everyone’s radar three weeks ago. He finally broke through to win the Battle for the Belt championship at Temecula Valley. He went on to make it back-to-back tournament titles by winning the Raul Huerta Memorial at Canyon Springs a week later.
“Things have gotten a lot bigger since winning that first tournament title,” said Tovar, who is ranked No. 5 in the state and No. 1 in the section at 132 pounds by CalGrappler. “The (Battle for the Belt) is definitely one of the biggest tournaments in California. I felt great winning that. It was a big deal.”
Especially because the postseason is all about tournament-style wrestling. Tovar fully expects to win his first Masters title come Feb. 23. If it plays out the way it does on paper, he will end up wrestling Brawley senior Lonzie Osuna in the championship match.
“The guy from Brawley is pretty tough, but I am pretty confident that I am going to win that,” Tovar said. “I am really more worried about state and doing well there.”
It makes sense for Tovar and the Titans — winners of 28 Masters championships — to be concentrating on tuning up for a chance at the school’s fifth state title.
This is arguably Poway’s best shot at winning state since it won it all in 2009. Poway is currently ranked No. 2 in California behind two-time defending state champion Clovis.
“We definitely think we can win a state title,” said Tovar, who helped Poway place third in the state last season. “It is much closer than last year and we are definitely stacked with middle weights. It is going to be really close, razor-thin.”
And not a day goes by without Tovar and his teammates working hard to overcome that small margin.
“We are a very tight group,” Tovar said. “We talk about state every day. We might not get another chance like this. You have to treat every year like it is your last.”
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