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La Cañada High wrestling goes south versus West Torrance

Wrestling: Spartans take 15-0 lead, but surrender next nine of 11 bouts in falling to Warriors, 49-25, in first round of CIF Southern Section Division VI Dual Meet Championships.

February 08, 2014|By Andrew J. Campa, andrew.campa@latimes.com

REDONDO BEACH — Up by 15 points three matches in, thoughts of an upset began to creep into the minds of the La Cañada High wrestling team.

The 10th-ranked Spartans had all the momentum early versus third-ranked West Torrance in the team’s first-round match at the CIF Southern Section Division VI Dual Meet Championships at Redondo Union High.

Yet, while the lead energized the Rio Hondo League runner-up Spartans, the deficit also served to revitalize the Bay League champion Warriors, who won nine of the last 11 bouts in storming back for a 49-25 victory Saturday afternoon.

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With the defeat, the Spartans capped their team season at 4-2, while eight individual wrestlers prepare for the two-day long CIF Southern Section Eastern Division Individual Wrestling Championships at Perris Citrus Hill High, beginning Feb. 21.

“I saw a lot of toughness out here from my team,” Spartans first-year coach Justin Luthey said. “Some of their guys got [technical falls] when they should have got pins and we fought off our backs multiple times. I really respect those guys.

“It’s our last time as a team together, so I’m glad we fought hard. We were excited with our start, but West Torrance is a good team and they deserve the win.”

A draw previous to Saturday’s tournament determined that the starting weight for the first round would be at 195 pounds instead of the usual 106-pound division.

So, by the time the Spartans reached 106 pounds, the upper weights had already handed the team a 15-0 lead versus West Torrance, whose campus is located less than two miles away from Redondo Union.

Unfortunately for La Cañada, that advantage was short-lived.

West Torrance’s Amir Alinaghian landed a pin at 106 pounds to rally the Warriors (6-1) to within 15-6 and kick-start a 29-0 run that included pins from Octavio Canales (113 pounds), Yoshito Funakoshi (126) and Nathan Litman (132) and a technical fall from Jeremy Deckman (120).

La Cañada finally snapped West Torrance’s run at 138 pounds when junior Jesse Leamon picked up a 14-2 major victory over Joey Johnson to pull the Spartans within 29-19.

The triumph, however, may have given the Warriors something to be proud of as Johnson fought off four takedowns, two reversals and a near fall in denying Leamon a fall or technical pin.

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