Paly wrestling ends season with 7th place finish at CCS
The Palo Alto High School wrestling team wrapped up its season with a seventh place finish in the CCS finals at Independence High School on Saturday. Juniors Kalen Gans, Joey Christopherson, Ryan Oshima and Nick Ortiz finished third, sixth, fourth and fifth in their respective weight classes.
With his third place finish in the 160 pound weight class, Gans will move on to the state tournament in Bakersfield which will take place this Friday and Saturday.
Coming into the meet, the team set its sights on a top ten finish, so a seventh place final ranking was more than satisfactory. After the meet, head coach David Duran summarized it as “the biggest performance of the year.”
Ortiz, wrestling in the 125 pound weight class, set the tone for the meet as he opened up with an 11-2 victory over junior Eduardo Tinoco of Salinas High School. Fellow Paly wrestling senior Jose Tochez, “the greatest show on vesilite,” was in attendance and described Ortiz’s performance as simply “dominant.”
Christopherson, wrestling in the 119 pound weight class, picked up a win of his own before Ortiz recorded his second win of the morning. Oshima followed with perhaps the most dominant performance of the day as he pinned his opponent just 28 seconds into the match.
Oshima was defeated in the third and fourth place match by Cupertino’s senior Ian Messaros. Despite the loss, the team was proud of Oshima. Oshima sat out most of the season with a knee injury and had limited practice prior to the finals.
“It was a big accomplishment for him to get this far with such little time to train,” assistant coach Richie Nole said. “It’s something he should be proud of.”
Up next was Gans who took on Santa Teresa senior Johnny Gonzales. Gonzales controlled the match early on and handed Gans a 10-0 loss. In order to qualify for states Gans would have to win all of his remaining matches. Gonzales ended up placing first in the 160 pound weight class.
Facing an uphill battle, Gans bounced back and won his next match to put him in contention for a third place finish. In the third and fourth place match Gans pinned senior No. 1 seed Chris McCallaCrear of The Harker School, punching Gans’ ticket to the state tournament.
Christopherson suffered an 8-3 loss to Pacific Grove senior Devin Brown in his final match, giving him a sixth place finish overall.
On the mat next to Christopherson, Ortiz defeated Palma senior Sam Easton to secure a fifth place finish.
Overall, Gans was pleased with the team’s results.
“I thought we could have advanced a little bit better, but it was a great year as a team and we finished strong,” Gans said.
Paly assistant coach Tony Brewer was slightly more enthusiastic about the performance.
“[This is] the best season I’ve been involved in and I’ve been involved since 1995,” Brewer said.
The meet was a strong conclusion to the Vikings’ season, which was arguably their best in years. While the team is pleased with what has been achieved in the past months, the best news may be in the future. Gans has an opportunity to compete at the state tournament and next year he will return along with Christopherson, Ortiz and Oshima. It looks like Paly Wrestling has many more victories ahead.