NEWARK -- Ten years ago, wrestling was the only sport at De La Salle High that had not won a North Coast Section championship. Now the Spartans are the gold standard with five straight team titles after winning Saturday at Newark Memorial High.
"Our coach tells us that we need to continue the streak and continue our legacy of a strong program coming up in the state," Aaron Pease said moments after winning the 170-pound championship. "He tells us every day that we want to get better and that even if we win a match we have something to prove."
The Spartans had faltered in the finals before Pease took the mat. Top-seeded Nathan Cervantes lost 1-0 in overtime to Freedom's Ricky Coster, the No. 2 seed, at 120 pounds, then top-seeded 145-pounder Payton Russum was upset by Nico Lange of Livermore -- again in overtime -- 3-2.
It was Pease's turn to set an example.
Pease never trailed against Liberty's Tanner Blank in posting a tough 5-2 victory.
De La Salle's five-year run might have sparked some backlash. The ovation was sizable when Lange beat Russum.
Lange had gone ahead 2-1 with a reverse with 45 seconds left, then Russum got away for an escape with five seconds left in the third round, leading to overtime. Lange scored an escape in the first overtime period, then had top position in the second overtime. He kept a viselike grip on Russum's hands, never letting the Spartan get away.
"Wrestling is all about hand control and
Tyler Rardon became Livermore's first two-time NCS champion with a 5-3 victory over Rancho Cotate's Joe Clay at 152.
"Last year was my first time so it was sweet, but this year, I looked up the history, and we've never had a two-time NCS champion," Rardon said. "I did that today, and I'm looking forward to state and making a statement there."
That started a run of five straight victories by the East Bay Athletic League. Granada's Kyle Campiotti (160) routed Healdsburg's Dominic Merlo 10-1, followed by the De La Salle titles by Pease and Devon Aiello at 182 pounds.
Las Lomas' Dylan Walsh, the top seed at 285 pounds, wrapped up the title with a 3-1 victory over Jacob Clausen of Newark Memorial, and American freshman Jared Luty scored a stunning upset, beating top-seeded Perez Perez of Windsor -- ranked as high as third by the California Wrestler -- 12-6 in the 103-pound final.