El Cajon, CA
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Articles by Phillip Brents

Helix High School senior Trence Gillem entered last weekend’s 44th annual California state boys wrestling championship tournament ranked fourth in his 134-pound weight class. But the newly-crowned San Diego Section Masters champion held true to the goal he had set at the beginning of season: He was determined to win the state title.

And, Gillem did just that after recording a 3-2 decision over Buchanan senior Durbin Lloren, the defending state champion, in last Saturday finals at Rabobank Arena in Bakersfield.

The San Diego Section boys and girls soccer playoffs are set to conclude with championship games at San Diego Mesa College and Olympian High School this weekend, March 4 and 5. The San Diego Sockers hope to make a championship splash as well as they kick off the Major Arena Soccer League’s Pacific Division playoffs.

The Sockers, no strangers to hoisting championship trophies, will host the Tacoma Stars in the return leg of a two-game playoff series Sunday, March 6, at the Valley View Casino Center. Kick-off is 5:05 p.m.

The San Diego Section Masters state-qualifying wrestling tournament has been described as a “meat-grinder” by various coaches over the years. With good reason: only the top three place-finishers in each of the 14 weight classes punch tickets to the state championship tournament.

The San Diego Section divisional dual meet wrestling championships, version 2.0, took place last Saturday (Feb. 13) at Mira Mesa and Rancho Bernardo high schools. Champions were crowned in four divisions, with 32 teams in total participating.

The Division I and Division III tournaments took place at Mira Mesa High School; Rancho Bernardo High School hosted the Division II and Division IV tournaments.

Helix High School alumnus Alex Smith led the Kansas City Chiefs to a 30-0 AFC wildcard-round win over the host Houston Texans. However, the Chiefs’ season ended with a 27-20 loss to the defending Super Bowl champion New England Patriots in the next round.

Smith passed for 190 yards in the win over the AFC South champion Texans with one touchdown and one interception. He also rushed five times for 27 yards.

The Denver Broncos won their third Super Bowl championship by defeating the Carolina Panthers, 24-10, on Sunday at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara. It was a defensive display of excellence for the AFC champion Broncos, who were led on offense by a 39-yard quarterback who was sacked five times and threw one interception.

Poway High School remains the San Diego Section’s wrestling beast with four state championship titles and six runner-up place-finishes to its credit. It’s a proud honor roll for Titan head coach Wayne Branstetter, who is in his 39th season coaching at Poway and 44th overall.

But what constitutes a state or, even, section championship? Bransetter noted there are about 300 schools annually represented at the state championship tournament, but that just one wrestler represents about 250 schools.

The American Inline Hockey League features a more compact, streamlined product for the 2015-16 season, but smaller doesn’t necessarily mean less potent.  

The San Diego Tron Hosers emerged with the early lead in the Pacific South/Southwest Division after successfully fending off challenges from their two Arizona rivals -- the Arizona Ghostriders and Arizona Outcasts — to win the opening tournament of the season Jan. 9-10 at Skate San Diego in El Cajon.

Neither Monte Vista High School’s Richard San Nicolas Jr. nor West Hills High School’s Nicholas Rivinius had ever captured an individual varsity weight class championship, yet alone earn an outstanding wrestler award, prior to last Saturday’s Monte Vista Invitational. 

But both wrestlers are now sporting smiles – and some gleaming hardware – after recording their first varsity tournament victories.

The arrival of the San Diego Gulls of the American Hockey League has definitely pumped up interest in the sport of hockey—both ice and inline—in the San Diego region. The Gulls serve as the top minor league affiliate of the Anaheim Ducks of the National Hockey League and feature top draft picks and players who have played in the NHL on their roster.

The Gulls roared out to a 7-1 start in their new nest at the Valley View Casino Center to push the excitement level of fans even higher.