El Cajon, CA
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Articles by Phillip Brents

It’s been called the place where dreams are made and hearts are broken, and for two East County mat men, a trip to the 42nd California boys state wrestling championship tournament is at hand.

El Cajon Valley senior Leon Shlemoon will compete in the 145-pound weight class while Mt. Miguel senior Miracle Tausaga will compete in the 220-pound weight class when this weekend’s state tournament kicks off Friday at Bakersfield’s Rabobank Arena.

Chatter has filled Internet discussion boards all during the 2013-14 season as to the identity of the best high school wrestler among San Diego Section schools. El Cajon Valley senior Leon Shlemoon’s name has to be near the top, certainly after scoring an epic double-overtime victory to capture the 145-pound championship at last Saturday’s Division III finals at Olympian High School.

The effective reboot of the Valhalla High School wrestling program appears to be an ongoing success judging by results so far in the 2013-14 season.

“We’ve probably doubled the size of the program,” VHS coach Steve Bulette said with a definite mix of optimism and enthusiasm. “We currently have about 80 to 90 percent freshmen and sophomores. We only have three seniors. We’re doing pretty well; we’re just young.

Without a professional ice hockey team in place in the San Diego market to spike interest in both youth ice and roller hockey programs (as is the case in Orange and Los Angeles counties with the NHL Ducks and Kings), the San Diego Voodoo is doing its best to rekindle interest since the departure of the San Diego Barracudas of Roller Hockey International in 1996 and the San Diego Gulls of the ECHL in 2006.

The high school wrestling season is entering the final third of the season, and perhaps its most important part as teams prepare to sew up league championships and wrestlers focus on qualifying for the upcoming state finals.

East County mat men took one more step in that direction after competing in last weekend’s Holtville Invitational in Imperial County. Steele Canyon, Granite Hills and Valhalla all earned valuable prestige points.

The 2013-14 high school wrestling season is entering its stretch run and, with that, the annual Helix High School varsity tournament on tap this Saturday, Feb. 1. 

Highlanders coach Adam Krzywicki said the East County tournament offers participating teams an excellent opportunity to get in a few more matches before the end of the regular season as well as additional experience for varsity-B wrestlers.

The Scotties have been getting plenty of experience this season and showing well for it.

After helping set the standard for play in the CIF-Metro Conference the past several seasons, the West Hills High School roller hockey team faced the inevitable: the graduation of a very strong senior class.

The Wolf Pack, East County’s lone entrant in the 18-team conference, posted a program milestone by winning the Kiwanis Cup championship trophy last year via a thrilling 6-5 overtime decision against the top-seeded Rancho Bernardo Broncos.

Mat Simone is a familiar face to anyone who has followed East County high school wrestling for the past two-plus decades. He’s served as either a head coach or assistant coach at eight Grossmont Conference schools over a 28-year span.

He is currently the head coach at Monte Vista High School. By his reckoning, he is on his second tour of duty in helping guide local prep mat programs.

High school wrestling exhibited its “dual” nature over the weekend for a pair of East County teams, as the Grossmont Foothillers and Granite Hills Eagles competed in the fourth annual Lancer varsity dual team tournament at Hilltop High School. 

The San Diego Sockers won 48 consecutive games to set a U.S. professional sports-record winning streak at 48 games last year. The Sockers dropped their opening two games at the start of this season but appear to be working on another marathon winning streak after recording their seventh-consecutive victory after defeating the Toros de Mexico, 12-7, Sunday afternoon in Tijuana.