Marty Schnapp, news editor
Beverly brought eight wrestlers to the 61st “Sam Boyd” California Invitational Tournament at Morro Bay High School on Jan. 23, and three of the eight qualified to compete on the second day of the tournament on Jan. 24.
Senior Raven Castro, and juniors Ethan Grabel and Kyle Khalili were the three Beverly wrestlers to advance to day two of the tournament. They each ended with tournament records of 4-2.
“I thought all the guys that qualified for the second day [Raven, Ethan and Kyle], did exceptionally well,” coach Ryan Faintich said.
Only wrestlers who performed in the top 25 percent of their weight class qualified for the second day.
“Very few wrestlers come back for the second day. If you think about it, if only 25 percent of the wrestlers in each weight class qualify for the second day, three out of eight is above that average. I was very happy with that,” Faintich said.
The Morro Bay tournament is different from most competitions in respect to its higher degree of competition.
“This tournament is exceptionally hard because it combines some of the better teams of the southern section [Beverly’s section], the better teams of the central section and the better teams of the northern section. We get a chance to see a lot of teams or wrestlers we normally would not see until we got to State,” Faintich said.
Second-day qualifier, junior Kyle Khalili found challenges with high-seeded opponents.
“For my first match, I wrestled the third seed. I was on bottom for most of the match time, but close to the end I came back but lost by one. After that match I won all of the rest to make the second day,” Khalili said.
Senior Raven Castro, Beverly’s top-ranked wrestler, went up against a three-time State qualifier in his quarterfinal matchup.
“Raven started the match getting a takedown against a kid who probably hadn’t been taken down in a long time. Unfortunately, Raven was wrestling under the weather that day, and I think that’s what prevented him from placing, but he wrestled well,” Faintich said.
Faintich noted that there are other Beverly wrestlers, including sophomore Cameron Ifekwunigwe, and juniors Elijah Klapper and Mohamad Sadeghi, who wrestled well and in some cases, were very close to qualifying for the second day of the tournament.
“We had a lot of guys who were close, and the only thing I could possibly complain about (but I’m not going to) is that so much of any tournament is a random draw. Some of the draws our guys got had them wrestling the second seed or the third seed in the first match,” Faintich said.
Through firsthand experience with the ‘random’ matchup system, Sadeghi learned a lesson about estimating opponents based on appearances.
“I learned that you don’t judge a wrestler on how big or tough he looks. My third opponent looked huge, and I really thought I’d lose but I finished the match pinning him in the second period. My fourth opponent looked like a baby-faced chump, but he turned out to be a second-day Masters qualifier,” Sadeghi said.
Faintich is happy with the outcome of the tournament and the team’s performance as a whole.
“In my opinion, this is the best-run tournament in California. I was very pleased. I think all of the coaches were pleased with the way our guys wrestled,” Faintich said.