Bulldog wrestlers: Division III CIF champions

By Bill Tamburrino

Steve Koch, Ramona High wrestling coach, believes wholeheartedly in a quote by the late basketball coach John Wooden: “I’d rather have a lot of talent and a little experience than a lot of experience and a little talent.”

Koch started the season with a very young varsity wrestling team. Ten sophomores and a freshman wrestled on the varsity this season. Koch and co-head coach Dwayne Guile said they took that talented group and worked them hard. The group responded and on Saturday won the Division III San Diego Section CIF wrestling championship at Mt. Miguel High School.

CIF DIVISION CHAMPIONS—Joined by some of their little brothers, members of Ramona High’s CIF champion wrestling team surround coaches holding the Division III San Diego Section CIF championship plaque they won on Saturday. Photo/Alan Rhodes

The championship was Ramona’s fourth overall and the first since 2003.

The Dawgs have finished in second place six times. Not quite a Wooden-like dynasty, but a dynasty just the same.

“Every wrestler contributed,” said an elated Koch. “Every wrestler won at least two matches. This was a team effort. Coach Guile did a great job of getting them ready to wrestle. Coach (John) Rodriguez got them in shape to wrestle. Coach Tyler McKay and Coach Pete Zindler also do a great job of preparing our athletes to wrestle. We were well prepared and in the best shape at the right time. The main ingredient in stardom is the rest of the team.”

Some coaches forfeit weights during league matches if they have inexperienced wrestlers in that weight. Ramona’s staff does the opposite.

Koch has his wrestlers wrestle at the highest possible level. He used over 20 wrestlers in varsity matches so, when injuries hit, a wrestler with experience can jump in. Koch’s strategy paid off with a championship.

Twelve wrestlers qualified for the Masters Meet Friday and Saturday at Otay Ranch High School and two will go as alternates. So the entire team will go.

Ramona had the championship won after the semi-final round as the Bulldogs sent five wrestlers to the finals. The Bulldogs amassed 237 team points to win the championship. Second place Central Union High School had 173.5 points.

Palomar League rival Mt. Carmel came in third with 164.5 and host school Mt. Miguel took fourth with 145.

The Palomar League had a good day in general. Poway won its 25th consecutive Division I championship. Rancho Bernardo took third place in Division II.

Arturo Osorio-Ramirez won the championship in the 128-pound classification and Isaiah Ilich won the championship in the 138-pound class. Both did it with dramatic third period come from behind pins.

Osorio-Ramirez pinned Damian Escalera of Mt. Miguel with 28 seconds left in the third period to earn the gold. Ilich was down by 4 points with 10 seconds left on the clock when he pinned Victor Richmond of Mt. Miguel to claim the title.

Vince Adair (106), Kevin Conroy (132) and Devin Rhodes (170) advanced to the finals. The three came away with silver medals and tickets to the Masters Meet.

Kirk Kaliszewski is the feel-good story of the season. Kaliszewski suffered a leg injury late in the football season and struggled to rehab the injury late into the wrestling season. He finally got medical clearance and wrestled himself into shape and won a third place medal at 152 pounds by pinning Justin Nunez of Central Union in the CIF Championships.

Troy Jordan (145), Noe Hernandez (182), Josh Allen (195) and Zach Berg (220) all took fourth place and all will go to the Masters.

Jureall Simmons finished the day with a win and took fifth place in the heavyweight (285) division to earn a trip to Otay Ranch High School this weekend. Martin Dowers took sixth place in the 115 pound class to earn a trip to the Masters.

Zach Lane (120) and Brian Coane (160) both won three bouts and valuable team points and both will be alternates at the Masters.

When a lot of talent gets a lot of coaching and a lot of conditioning and a lot of valuable experience during the season, the result is a CIF championship.

Ramona has won four CIF Championships under the tutelage of Steve Koch and has come in second six times.

“Winning takes talent, to repeat takes character.”

John Wooden

Related posts:

  1. Wrestlers prepare for 2011-12 season
  2. Bulldog wrestlers win another league match
  3. Future bright for young wrestlers, says Koch
  4. Wrestlers lose to Poway, earn second in regional tourney
  5. Wrestlers take second in Rotary invitational

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Posted by Karen Brainard on Feb 22 2012. Filed under Sports. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

1 Comment for “Bulldog wrestlers: Division III CIF champions”

  1. Craig K. Raine

    Congratulations to the Division III CIF Champion Bulldog wrestlers and Good Luck at the state championships this weekend. The success of the Ramona wrestling program can be directly attributed to Coach Koch’s coaching style and sincere relationship with his student athletes, stressing sportsmanship and academic excellence.

    I had the honor to be an Assistant Coach with Coach Koch from the 1992-93 season (we went 14-1 in dual matches that year) until the 2002-2003 season. During this period the team won CIF championships in 1994, 2002 and 2003 and finished 2nd in 1993, 1995, 1999, 2000 and 2001. During much of this time the team was also racking up academic honors as well. The Ramona wrestling team was a periodic California Academic State Champion and perennial runner up in the California Academic Team Championships. Team academic titles are awarded to varsity teams regardless of size of school who have the highest cumulative grade point average in their sport among over 1,000 high schools throughout the state.

    While all this was going on the team changed practice locations almost yearly, the most “unique” was called the Pig Barn, a large metal tool shed in the FFA area that was adjacent to the pig pens with all their glory and odors. In 1994, leading up to the CIF divisional championships the team had to practice outside in the winter due to space conflicts with an in-door varsity sport team. The fury that came out of that adversity propelled the Ramona wrestling program to its first CIF Championship since San Diego Section records have been kept. The team won due to superior conditioning (coaches from other teams told their wrestlers not to let those kids from Ramona off their backs, because they would end up pinning you in the last period since they would not stop), and having the depth that allowed us to wake up a sleepy JV wrestler at 4:30 in the morning to replace the top seed Varsity wrestler who could not go due to family issues. The team margin of victory from 1st place to 2nd place that day in 1994 was 13 points, mostly the points earned by that young JV wrestler pinning his way to 3rd place. The same factors in 1994 that led to that first championship were evident in this most recent championship in 2012.

    Even with all my experience,I learned from Coach Koch. I have had the opportunity to have coached wrestling in California, Georgia and West Virginia with a student athlete winning a state championship in each of those states. One of those student athletes I coached was my oldest son, who started it all in 2002 with the newly created Ramona Wrestling Club, or more appropriately….. The Pound. As the team “mascot” during those early years he travelled with the team as we drove farther and farther away from San Diego County each year in search of tougher competition and challenges. My son got a few team wedgys along the way, but what left an impression on him most was seeing Coach Koch’s teams in action. He learned valuable lessons in hard work, camaraderie, sportsmanship and academic achievement that have served him well as an adult. I wish my son had the opportunity to have been on one of Coach Koch’s teams.

    Ramona wrestling may not be a dynasty yet, but the legacy that Coach Koch has created has left a positive and lasting impression on hundreds young adults all over the country, an impression that has impacted their character in the best way possible. Regardless of the number of championships won, the legacy of his impact on his student athletes is Coach Koch’s greatest achievement. As Tambo quoted John Wooden; “Winning takes talent, to repeat takes character”

    Coach Craig Raine, formerly known in Ramona as Coach Pain

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