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Articles by Phillip Brents

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.

El Niño may turn out to be one of the biggest news stories in 2016 and possibly even in 2017. The tropical moisture-driven storms associated with the phenomenon can wreck havoc on coastal communities with widespread flooding from torrential downpours.

But El Niño can also provide some good-natured family fun. Besides dropping a lot of rain in the coastal plain, El Niño storms can also drop a lot of snow in California’s coastal and peninsular mountain ranges.

The San Diego Gulls are nearly the halfway mark of their maiden season and, by all accounts, the American Hockey League club has surpassed all expectations.

The AHL serves as the top-tier affiliate of the National Hockey League and local fans have flocked to the Gulls’ new nest to watch top young prospects on their way up to the NHL as well as players with extensive NHL credentials working their way back to pro hockey’s “big show.”