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Wrestling loses, complete CHS sports coverage

Claremont High School Wrestling Coach Gerald Escalante has a truism he shares with all of his athletes, “How many moves does it take to beat a champ? One. How many moves does it take to be a champ? One.”

That certainly was the case on Friday, as Claremont hosted rival Bonita for a dual Palomares League meet.

Claremont got hammered in the lower weight classes, winning just one match, when 138-pound Eric Tran defeated Adam Moreno on points. As a result, the score was 33-3, with about half of the meet on the books.

However, the momentum changed when Nicholas Alegria pinned Angel Huipio at the 152-pound weight class. The Pack got another pin at 160 pounds when Xiucoti Mejia got the better of Michael Seitz. That was followed by a Bonita forfeit at 170, and Claremont star Victor Mora flattened Jaden DanceKelly, pinning him in 30 seconds.

As a result, what had appeared to be an easy Bearcat win became a narrow 33-27 lead.

Bonita got six more points at 195 when Zion Longsine pinned Malcolm Casillas, which brought up the 220-pound match between Bonita’s Jarrett DanceKelly and Claremont’s Eddie Flores.

Neither boy could have known in advance, but their match was the pivotal point in the meet. DanceKelly, a junior football player, was wrestling for the first time and looked slightly unsteady at first. Flores nearly pinned him in the first round, but the Bearcat fought back and was ready when Flores made an error. DanceKelly quickly gained the advantage, which he was able to turn into a pin.

The Bonita bench went wild and, just as Coach Escalate had predicted, it came down to one move.

In the final match, 285 pounds, Claremont’s Ricky Casas pinned Adam Zens, but it was too little, too late and the Bearcats won 45-33.

“We were hoping to be ahead earlier but it all came down to one match, a veteran versus a newbie,” Coach Escalante said. “That was it, that was the decider right there.”

Claremont is 0-3 in league but has done better in tournaments, thanks in no small part to the efforts of Mora.

Mora is a fourth-year wrestler, and made it to CIF three years. Coach Escalante is expecting him to go a little further in the championship tournament this season.

The Wolfpack did well at the Nogales Super Comps tournament two weeks ago, with Mora taking second place at 180 pounds, while Nick Parga took seventh at 126 and Eric Tran took seventh at 138.

“Tournament-wise we do an excellent job, we have [several] individual champions,” Coach Escalante said.

The Pack also lost a very narrow league meet with Glendora, 39-36.

“So far, we have been hanging in there. Our matches have been close except for South Hills. We are looking ahead to the matches yet to come,” Coach Escalante said. “I am always proud—they work very hard.”

The Pack has nine seniors this year, so Coach Escalante will be developing a whole new team next year.

The team has been coed for several years, with a separate league for the girls, however, any girl can challenge in wrestle-offs to compete in the varsity match. Such was the case on Friday as Bonita’s Angie Sabadin won a very close match on points over Claremont’s Christian Tapia.

Coach Escalante has been leading the Claremont team for nine years. Four of his children have wrestled for him, including freshman Andrew Escalante who is currently on the team.

His oldest son Matthew, 22, started competing first, followed by daughter Gabrielle, 20. His son Daniel, 16, who is still a CHS student, wrestled last year, but decided not to this year.

Claremont had a Palomares League meet with Ayala in Chino Hills on Thursday after press time.

OTHER COVERAGE: Boys Basketball

Claremont High School is off to a good start in Palomares League action with a 2-1 record.

The Pack won their league opening game, 61-47, against Glendora last Tuesday at CHS, under the bright lights of the newly-renovated gym.

The Pack came out with energy, with strong rebounding and by controlling turnovers, but had a hard time nailing baskets. They trailed at the half, 24-22.

The boys turned their shooting around in the second half, outscoring the Tartans by 13 points for the win.

Top scorers were senior Christian Jordan with 18 points, followed by junior Matthew Dirckx at 16, senior Jacob Henry at 12 and junior Reggie Retzlaff at 11. Retzlaff was red hot at the free throw line with nine of his 11 points. Jordan also had the most rebounds at 8.

On Thursday, the Pack fell to South Hills, 61-52. CHS was ahead 15-11 after one quarter, they were tied at 24 at the half, and had a one-point lead at the end of three. However, South Hills pulled out a 23-point final quarter to seal the win.

The boys bounced back on Tuesday with a decisive home win over rival Bonita, 66-53. The Bearcats jumped to an early lead and were ahead by three at the half. But Claremont was on fire the second half, scoring 16 points in the third and 20 in the fourth quarter for the win.

Jordan had an amazing game with 21 points, hitting eight of nine field goal attempts. He also had a game high of 15 rebounds. Dirckx also had a very good game with 14 points and six rebounds.

Girls Basketball

Claremont High School girls basketball won their first Palomares League game in four years, defeating South Hills 61-56 last Friday in West Covina.

Coach Mike James has been building the team up all semester. But it was not smooth sailing as the Pack lost their league opener to Glendora, 57-33, and their third league game to Bonita, 42-28, on Tuesday.

During the Glendora game, the girls had some good hustle, but were hampered by turnovers and poor shooting.

The Tartans are the top-ranked team in the Palomares League, according to Coach James and he was pleased with his team’s overall performance.

“We played well in patches, but you can’t let good teams shoot and you can’t turn the ball over or you will be in trouble,” he said following the Glendora game, adding “It’s all things we can fix.”

The Pack is 12-8 overall, 1-2 in league. They play Ayala on Friday at home.

 

Boys Soccer

Claremont added three more wins to their Palomares League record, beginning with a 2-0 defeat of South Hills in a rain-soaked game last Tuesday at CHS. The two goals came from seniors Kevyn Lopez and Damian Martinez.

The boys followed with a 2-1 win over Bonita last Thursday in La Verne, with goals from Ben Lynch and Mauricio Jimenez. Finally, they defeated Ayala, 2-0, on Tuesday in Chino Hills, with goals by Lopez and Justin Tinajero.

The Pack’s record is now 12-6-1 overall and 3-1 in league. They played Diamond Bar at home on Thursday after press time.

 

Girls soccer

South Hills seems to have Claremont’s number this year, defeating the Pack for a second time. CHS had a number of scoring opportunities, including a one-on-one with the goalie, but they couldn’t capitalize and lost, 2-1, last Saturday in Covina.

The undefeated Huskies are now the top-ranked team in the Palomares League.

On Tuesday at CHS, the Pack looked strong by defeating Ayala, 2-1, with goals from Tyler Higuera and Sophie Jones.

Claremont is now 2-1-1 in league and 14-3-3 overall. They had an away game against Diamond Bar on Thursday after press time.

Girls water polo

The Pack defeated La Jolla to take third place in the Diamond Bar tournament over the weekend. A recap of the girls recent Palomares League play will be in our next edition.

 

—Steven Felschundneff

steven@claremont-courier.com