Nation's top freshman Hall steals show in Las Vegas

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LAS VEGAS -- The field at the 2012 NUWAY Southwest Kickoff Classic, which took place Saturday and Sunday in Las Vegas, packed solid punch at the top of virtually every weight class. When all was said and done after two days of wrestling, it was those from the Golden State along with Mark Hall (Apple Valley, Minn.) who stole the show.

Mark Hall (Apple Valley, Minn.) earned a 9-5 victory over Isaiah Martinez (Lemoore, Calif.), the nation's No. 3 overall senior (Photo/Jeff Beshey, The Guillotine)
Ranked first overall nationally among freshmen, Hall won a preseason tournament for the fourth consecutive weekend. He repeated as champion in this event at 160 pounds to augment 152 pound championships at the Grappler Fall Classic and Super 32 Challenge as well as a 160 pound title at the InterMat JJ Classic last weekend. The championship match against fellow Super 32 champion Isaiah Martinez (Lemoore, Calif.) was the tournament's most anticipated, with Hall upending the nation's No. 3 overall senior by 9-5 decision.

However, California natives earned more than their share of titles, in fact eight of the 13 weights were won by Golden State natives. This was led by the nation's No. 2 overall freshman Aaron Pico (St. John Bosco) taking home the 133 pound title with an 11-4 victory over Ali Naser (El Camion Real, Calif.).

However, the tournament performance by Naser should not go unnoticed, as he beat two-time Cadet freestyle champion Seth Gross (Apple Valley, Minn.) 5-2 in the quarterfinal and Jed Mellen (Payson, Utah), the nation's No. 83 overall senior, 3-2 in the semifinal. Naser did not compete in the state series last year after placing seventh in 2011 due to injury, but was 4-2 in freestyle at the Junior Nationals this summer.

The Valencia brothers -- Zahid at 115 and Anthony at 138 -- joined Pico as NUWAY Vegas champions from St. John Bosco. Zahid, the nation's top ranked sophomore, bounced back from a third place finish at the Super 32 with a 3-1 finals victory against Ronnie Bresser (Henley, Ore.), who is ranked No. 44 overall in the senior class. Anthony bounced back from failing to make the second day of the Super 32 with a 5-2 victory over Javier Gasca (Kingsburg, Calif.) in a finals match that was a rematch from the FloNationals final seven months ago.

Peter Santos (Oakmont, Calif.), fifth at the state tournament at 170 and seventh at the Flo Nationals at 152, had a superlative run to the 174 pound championship. This included a semifinal win by fall over Daniel Woiwor (Apple Valley, Minn.), who is ranked No. 51 overall in the senior class; and a 7-4 finals win over two-time Cadet Greco-Roman champion Chandler Rogers (Mead, Wash.), who is ranked No. 16 overall in the junior class.

Mason Pengilly (Porterville) won the 122 pound championship with a 3-2 victory over Micah Perez (Central Union, Calif.) in a finals match featuring past Junior National freestyle All-Americans. Nikko Villarreal (Gilroy), ranked No. 21 in the junior class, won the 148 pound weight class with a 7-4 victory over Reed Van Anrooy (Roseburg, Ore.) -- a three-time state finalist who finished fourth at the Super 32.

Rounding out the California natives to win titles was Christian Pagdilao (Santiago Corona) at 143 and Derrick Jones (Bloomington) at 218.

Other weight class champions included Oak Park River Forest, Ill. teammates Isaiah White, who ranks No. 9 overall in the freshman class, and Joe Ariola at 128 and 192 pounds respectively; as well as Mason Smith (Clio, Mich.) at 106 and Seth Monty (Mesa Mountain View, Ariz.) at 155. This title added to last weekend's JJ Classic title for Smith, a runner-up finish at the Grappler Fall Classic, and a second day appearance at the Super 32 that fell short of placement.

106: Mason Smith (Clio, Mich.) pinned Adrian Campasano (Central, Calif.), 1:45
115: Zahid Valencia (St. John Bosco, Calif.) dec. Ronnie Bresser (Henley, Ore.), 3-1
122: Mason Pengilly (Porterville, Calif.) dec. Micah Perez (Central Union, Calif.), 3-2
128: Isaiah White (Oak Park River Forest, Ill.) dec. Vincent Gomez (Bakersfield Frontier, Calif.), 3-1
133: Aaron Pico (St. John Bosco, Calif.) dec. Ali Naser (El Camino Real, Calif.), 11-4
138: Anthony Valencia (St. John Bosco, Calif.) dec. Javier Gasca (Kingsburg, Calif.), 5-2
143: Christian Pagdilao (Santiago Corona, Calif.) dec. Sergio Enloe (Poway, Calif.) 7-1
148: Nikko Villarreal (Gilroy, Calif.) dec. Reed Van Anrooy (Roseburg, Ore.) 7-4
155: Seth Monty (Mesa Mountain View, Ariz.) maj. dec. Antonio Perez (Central Union, Calif.) 10-2
163: Mark Hall (Apple Valley, Minn.) dec. Isaiah Martinez (Lemoore, Calif.) 9-5
174: Peter Santos (Oakmont, Calif.) dec. Chandler Rogers (Mead, Wash.) 7-4
192: Joe Ariola (Oak Park River Forest, Ill.) dec. Ryder Newman (Green Valley, Nev.) 3-2
218: Derrick Jones (Bloomington, Calif.) pinned Tim McDonald (Columbia, Id.) 3:22


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timx (1) about 5 and a half years ago
I'm glad Josh is back, and I enjoy his writing. Time to learn from a foolish mistake, grow and move forward. And also to realize none of us are perfect.Without redemption and forgiveness, we are nowhere.