Yucaipa High School boys wrestling qualified all 14 varsity wrestlers to compete in the CIF Southern Section Eastern Division Championships this past weekend. The competition was fierce as nearly 500 of the best wrestlers in Southern California showed up to compete in 14 weight classes at Carter High School on Friday and Saturday. With never a dull moment, YHS competitors battled their way through some of the toughest matches of the season, with only a select few making it to the championship rounds. Every championship match was powerful and exciting. Some featured No. 1 ranked wrestlers. Some featured top local wrestlers. Some so closely matched in ability the winner of the match went down to the wire. At the end of the day, wrestlers had three goals in mind: Win the Southern Section championship, earn a top-five finish to move forward in the competition to the Masters Meet tonight Friday, Feb. 21, and Saturday, Feb. 22, or at the very least, grab a top-eight finish to earn the right to call themselves a CIF Southern Section placer.
Yucaipa High School wrestlers embraced these three goals and proudly walked away living up to expectations. Here is a look at the Yucaipa High School CIF Southern Section Eastern Division highlights:
Four YHS wrestlers worked their way through the two-day tournament to land in final championship matches. This is no easy feat as each weight class is stacked with 32 wrestlers, proving the wrestlers’ skills and grit to secure these four spots in the championship rounds. At the conclusion of the matches, there were two Yucaipa High School champions crowned: juniors, Trenton Pagaduan and Tyler Smith. Pagaduan took home the title at 113 pounds, and Smith won the 138-pound title.
Pagaduan, a 2019-2020 transfer to Yucaipa High School from Cajon High School, squared off against Geovanni Alvarado, a senior from J. W. North. While the match went all three periods, in the end it was Pagaduan who dominated from start to finish ending the match with a 10-0 major victory over Alvarado. Pagaduan is currently ranked number 15 in the state and is the returning CBL Champion.
Smith, who took second place in CIF his freshman year, but was out with a season ending shoulder injury his sophomore year, was on a mission to earn the championship title. His goal became a reality 5 minutes and 58 seconds into the match, when he pinned his opponent (Isaac Samano from Chino HS) with just two seconds left in the third period. Down by two after the first period he scored a two point take down in the second period and was dominant on top in the third period earning his victory by fall.
A total of 14 YHS wrestlers earned their way to CIF Southern Section Eastern Division Championships and nine of those wrestlers qualified for Masters by finishing in the top five in their weight class. They will wrestle Friday and Saturday, February 21-22, at Sonora High School.
Joining champions Pagaduan and Smith are second- place finisher freshman Ashwan Perez at 106 pounds third place finishers sophomore Abel Gaitan at 120 pounds and junior Ethan Krey at 126 pounds; fourth-place finisher sophomore Joey Estrada at 170 pounds; fifth-place finishers sophomore Nathaniel Martindale at 152 pounds and junior Landon Cabral at 160 pounds; and sixth-place finisher junior Zachary Molnar at 195 pounds who qualified as an alternate.
Not qualifying for Masters, but placing in the meet by finishing eighth place was sophomore Aaron Eddy at 220 pounds.
The team title
While Sultana High School was victorious in earning the CIF Southern Section Eastern Division Championship team title with 294 points, it was runner-up Yucaipa High School with 240 points outdistancing its closest competitor by 99 points. Coach David Espinosa said, “First place is always the goal but we don’t hang our heads in defeat because we always give it everything we have, leaving it all on the mat and there is no shame in that. We finished with 11 placers, four finalists, two champions and nine masters qualifiers and we graduate only two seniors. The best is yet to come.”