Wrestling: Team qualifies eight for State Championships

Led by a pair of second place finishes, the Cerritos College wrestling team finished in fifth place at the Southern California Championships on Saturday and have qualified eight wrestlers for the CCCAA State Championships. The eight who advanced will compete this weekend at West Hills College in Lemoore. As a team, the Falcons finished with 94.5 team points.

Sophomore 174-pound Tyree Cox (Lancaster HS) and 197-pound freshman Tyler Smith (Marina HS) both reached the championship match of their respective weight classifications to lead the Falcons. Cox, who entered the tournament as the #3-seed, was defeated by Victor Valley College's Ryan McWatters, 12-7 in the championship match after a pair of three-point wins advanced him to the finals. Smith was seeded #2 and escaped an early 4-3 win over Jared Matanane of Mt. San Antonio College before another win pitted him against top-seeded Matt Read of Palomar College, who recorded an 11-2 win.

At 141 pounds, freshman Michael Behnke (Arlington HS) finished in third place, while the duo of 133-pound sophomore Rudy Delgado (North Torrance HS) and 285-pound sophomore Weston Hawkins (Edison HS/North Iowa Area CC) both finished in fourth place. Behnke won his first match before losing to eventual champion Able Avila of Rio Hondo College, and then rebounded for a 3-2 win over Cuesta College's Julian Purdy before handing Max Ramirez of Bakersfield College a 9-6 setback in the third place match. After Delgado opened with a convincing 14-4 win over Hector Lopez of Mt. San Antonio College in his first match, he was defeated 9-5  to drop into the consolation bracket. That was followed by a 15-3 win and then he was pinned in 7:30 by Darrin Salazar of West Hills College in the third place match. Hawkins went the same direction, as he opened with a 3-0 win over George Pacheco of Mt. San Antonio and then was pinned quickly in :36 seconds by eventual champion Derrick Lee of West Hills. A 12-0 shutout sent Hawkins to the third place match, where he had to default against Pacheco due to an injury.

Also qualifying for the state tournament were freshman Gabe Ballesteros (Mesa, AZ HS), who came in fifth place at 125 pounds, freshman Eddie Rogers (Martin Luther King HS), who won the wrestle-off at 157 pounds after coming in seventh place, and sophomore Kyle Pivovaroff (West Torrance HS), who placed sixth at 184 pounds.