Morro Bay High wrestler Dolin Mininni didn’t get discouraged when his childhood friend went straight for a takedown within the first 10 seconds of the 138-pound title match of Saturday’s CIF-Southern Section Northern Division Championships at San Luis Obispo High.
That was all the motivation Mininni needed.
He put aside the early deficit by earning a game-changing takedown at the end of the second period and pinning junior Kevan Garcia of Paso Robles with 1:40 left in the match to win his first division title, wrapping up the performance by flexing his muscles to the crowd.
Mininni was one of 15 county wrestlers who qualified for the Masters Meet on Feb. 24-25 at Temecula Valley in Temecula — the final step before the CIF State Championships in Bakersfield.
“Me and him have wrestled each other since preschool,” said Mininni, who earned fifth place over Garcia in 2011. “We’ve always been rivals. He beat me two years ago and I beat him last year here. He’s a really good wrestler. His coaches are really good. I guess I was the better one today.”
Mininni wasn’t the only Morro Bay division winner, as senior Kent Beecham dominated Andrew Brown of Elsinore to capture the 160 title with a 5-0 decision — with all five points before the third period. The triumph gave the Pirates two division winners in the same year — a first for the school.
“It was great to do something I’ve never done before,” said Beecham, who also won the tournament’s upper weights MVP award for two pins and two major decisions. “I didn’t know I had it in me.”
The other first-time tournament winner from the county was Abe Halterman, the Atascadero senior who won on an injury default. His opponent, sophomore Mike Longo of Calvary Chapel, reinjured his left knee after attempting to take a low shot to Halterman seconds before the end of the first period.
By then, Halterman was ahead by a point.
His win led the Greyhounds, who finished third in the team standings with 154.5 points after an impressive five-year run that included winning the tournament in 2009 and ‘10 on top of taking second in ’07, ’08 and ’11. Atascadero was one of three PAC 7 teams this year that landed in the tournament’s top five, with Righetti (194 points) placing second behind winner Calvary Chapel (196.5).
Paso Robles (137) settled for fifth after sending five wrestlers to the Masters.
For the Greyhounds, taking a step back was not a bad thing.
“Finishing third is an amazing accomplishment,” said Atascadero’s Chris Ferree, who’s in his second stint as the head coach. “It’s hard to be satisfied with third but the kids wrestled great this weekend. It’s hard for the seniors to watch the kids before them earn plaques, but they really bought into the program.”
In all, the Greyhounds had five Masters qualifiers (top five in each weight class). Matt Ducasse also made it to a tournament final but fell 5-1 to Chino Hills’ Brody Goens at 182.
Besides Ducasse and Halterman, Atascadero senior Joshua Osorio (152, fifth), freshman Seth Burchfield (160, fifth) and senior Andrew Bittle (195, fifth) all moved on to the next stage.
Paso Robles also had another runner-up finisher in Deonte Willis, who suffered a heartbreaking takedown to Ayala’s Lucas Northrop about 30 seconds into overtime of the 225 title match. And Nipomo’s Brett Kimball lost 6-3 to Calvary Chapel’s Taylor Elliot in the heavyweight final.
Other Masters qualifiers from the county include Paso Robles junior Robbie Standley (113, third), senior Brady Zubia (145, third) and junior Colton Madrigal (160, fourth); Arroyo Grande junior Bryan Rozo (120, fifth); and Nipomo junior Dylan Hulsizer (132, fifth).
The top nine at the Masters advance to the state meet.