South San Francisco High’s Calvin Nicholls entered the Central Coast Section's 171-pound championship match on Saturday night at Independence High in San Jose with high expectations. The senior had captured nearly every tournament title he competed for, only missing the gold standard in a second-place finish at the Mid-Cal tournament.
“It feels great,” said Nicholls. “I’ve been training my butt off all season. I choked in Mid-Cals but other than that I’ve been working hard all season and even the summer.”
Nicholls can now add a CCS championship to that long list of titles he’s put on his resume. He bested Bellarmine's Dan Cerrillo to win his first CCS title in three attempts. Of course, the top-seeded Nicholls expects to add one more numero uno to his name -- a California Interscholastic Federation State championship.
“People may think I’m crazy,” said Nicholl with a smile. “I expect to take it all, win the state tournament.”
The CIF championships are at Rabobank Arena in Bakersfield on Mar. 4-5.
Joining Nicholls atop the podium with the word 'Champion' underneath his feet was El Camino 285-pounder Trevor Kelly. Kelly, a senior, pinned Seaside’s Jonathan Tuiolosega with nine seconds remaining to win his first CCS title in two trips.
“I felt like I was going to win anyways,” said Kelly. “But it feels good. There’s no words that can explain it. I feel dominant, I feel relieved. I’ve worked hard at practice the whole year. I’m going to win a medal at state for sure.”
Kelly wasn’t the only one from El Camino with a medal around his neck. Teammate Brian Ha (125 pounds) took home the silver, his highest finish in four CCS appearances. While it is quite an accomplishment, Ha is already looking to the State tournament.
“I’m not worried about this anymore,” said Ha. “I’m looking forward to state now, and looking forward to getting a state medal. The past is the past.”
Menlo-Atherton’s Andre Delagnes finished second in the 119-pound weight class after qualifying for CCS in the 125-pound division last season. Despite a strong 4-1 tournament performance, the junior was disappointed in his execution in a 5-4 loss against fourth-ranked Victor Olmos of Gilroy. Delagnes was leading 4-2 in the third period before a technical violation and takedown derailed his gold medal chances.
“I want to be able to make it back next year,” said Delagnes. “I’m going to come back and work as hard as I can. I want this next year.”
The Serra Padres picked up a pair of medals. Third-ranked Travis Roberts (119) rebounded from a loss in the quarterfinals to capture the bronze medal, securing a resounding victory with an 11-1 major decision over Pacific Grove’s Devin Brown. The junior has qualified for CCS in three straight seasons, and he topped his previous high of fifth place in the 2010 championships in the 112 weight class.
Roberts was joined on the podium by senior teammate Nick Alspaugh. Alspaugh, a two-time CCS qualifier captured fifth place in the 171 division, pinning West Catholic Athletic League foe Julian Morrisette of Archbishop Riordan at the 59-second mark. Alspaugh finished the tournament 5-2.
Alspaugh’s two losses came against Sequoia senior Matteo Porcedda who topped Alspaugh in the second round of the winner’s bracket with a 4-2 decision, then topped the third-ranked Alspaugh in the consolation semifinals with a 7-3 decision.
Porcedda, ranked 11th, pinned St. Francis’ Omar Ortega at the 2:07 mark to take third place, finishing the tournament 6-1.
Fellow PAL wrestlers Koji Kameda of Menlo-Atherton, Will Basler of Woodside, Temoc Cervantes, Jorge Campos and Falah Salem of South San Francisco and Half Moon Bay’s John Claitor all placed as well.
M-A's Kameda claimed fifth place after falling in the semifinals, defeating Carson Key of Aptos to join teammate Delagnes as a medal winner.
Woodside's Basler, the 13th-ranked wrestler in the 215 weight class, went on a stunning run that saw him fall a win short of reaching the gold medal match. The senior finished 5-1, pinning San Lorenzo Valley's Ben Landauer for the second time in the tournament to make his second-straight CCS appearance a bronze medal finish.
Cervantes, a South City senior, fell to Basler in the consolation semifinals, but ended up finishing sixth after going 3-3. Teammate Falah Salem, the PAL Champion in the 160 weight class, finished fifth, edging Leland’s Maurice Alexander 10-4. Fellow Warrior senior Campos (189) also finished fifth, defeating Gilroy’s Andrew Toste with a 5-1 decision.
Claitor (125) medaled for the second straight year, pocketing the bronze after a 5-1 run. The Half Moon Bay senior finished second in 2010.