Pacific H.S. wrestling: Rocky road for Far East champs in ‘Beast’ tourney
January 12, 2009
YOKOSUKA NAVAL BASE, Japan — Challengers to the reigns of Scott Wood and Harry Bloom as Far East champions surfaced during Saturday’s Nile C. Kinnick Invitational "Beast of the Far East" Wrestling Tournament:
n   Kubasaki’s Wood, a three-time Far East champion, suffered his first defeat to a high school wrestler since his freshman year, a 4-0 first-round decision to Yokota’s Nick Guzman at 122 pounds. Wood finished third; Guzman captured the "Beast" title.
n   Bloom, the reigning Far East 141-pound champion, lost a 2-1 decision to Elias Labrador in the 148-pound final at Yokosuka Middle School.
"Things work out best for the people who make the best of the way things work out," Labrador said. "It’s exhilarating. [I feel] a sense of pride. I came here to complete my goal, I accomplished my goal, and now I move on to the next one."
"This is what I came back for," said Guzman, who wrestled for the Panthers his freshman and sophomore seasons but transferred to Hawaii for his junior year before returning to Yokota.
Of beating Wood, who’s trying to become only the second four-time Far East champion, Guzman said: "You never know what’s going to happen."
"He’s doing the things he needs to," Yokota coach Brian Kitts said of Guzman. "We’ll see who works harder over the next month."
The two upsets highlighted a "Beast" tournament that featured 92 wrestlers from 10 teams.
Shonan Military Academy, near Yokosuka, edged defending "Beast" champion Kadena of Okinawa 62-57 for the team title. Kubasaki of Okinawa was third with 47 points, and Kinnick and Yokota of Japan tied for fourth (46).
The event featured six reigning Far East champions; the other four won their weight classes, but not without a great deal of work.
Senior Cameron Butts of host school Kinnick, last season’s Far East Outstanding Wrestler, survived arguably the toughest weight group at 135 pounds, pinning Joey Buccilli of St. Mary’s International in 1:21.
"He’s an outstanding wrestler," Butts said of Buccilli. "I didn’t think it would happen that way at all. I expected it to go to the third period."
Yokota senior Tony Presnell, last year’s 158-pound champion, got all he could handle from Kubasaki’s Randy Candelaria, taking a 2-0 decision in the 168-pound final. Presnell’s teammate, 101-pound Far East champion Chris Cournoyer, pinned Kadena’s Aaron Avila in the 115-pound final.
"This is an indication of the type of competition," Butts said of what DODDS-Pacific wrestlers will face in next month’s Far East Tournament at Okinawa’s Camp Foster.
Coaches call "Beast" a good dress rehearsal for what they’ll see in the Far East event.
"It tells us where we’re at against the region minus Korea," Kadena coach Steve Schrock said.
"These are our first matches (this season). All we’ve had are scrimmages against Kubasaki. … All we can do is get better."
"You could win this tournament by 30 points and not place at Far East," Kitts said, referring to "Beast" as "another weekend tournament. It’s a good tournament, but it’s just another tournament. If we can win on Feb. 14, then we’ll be celebrating."
Another Osan girl makes history
At Yongsan Garrison, South Korea, Osan American’s girls continue to shatter glass ceilings.
First-year 101-pounder YeJeen Nam scored a pin over Kortney Martin of Seoul American, becoming the second girl to win a DODDS-Korea regular-season bout. She trains in practice with former Cougars girls pacesetter Emily Albonetti, who became the first girl to place in a Far East tournament last year.
"If she keeps progressing, gets more confident and builds her tenacity, I think she’ll go farther" than Albonetti, Cougars coach David Hemmer said.
Seoul’s Demetrius Johnson squeaked out a decision over Will Rapoza as the Falcons edged the Cougars 34-30. Seoul beat Daegu 40-20, and Osan and Daegu tied 27-27 in the tri-meet’s other duals.
Falcons coach Julian Harden termed Rapoza a "solid athlete" who will challenge in the Far East tournament at 168 pounds, as will 215-pounder Jesse Crockett. He likened Crockett to Seoul’s former Far East 180-pound champion Justin Stokes.
"Will has some natural instincts that are difficult to teach. I like his effort. He’ll easily cause people problems at Far East. And Crockett, he’s a big strong kid. I’d be surprised if he didn’t go far at Far East."