Longtime coach Doug Loo leads Condors in 20th season
WHITTIER – A strong and winning tradition is expected to continue in the Del Rio League finals by the Cal High School Wrestling team Saturday, to be held at Whittier High. Action gets underway at 9 am with the girls competition.
The Condors, winners of five league championships and their second in a row, will be represented by a strong contingent of wrestlers in the 14 weight classes. Cal finished undefeated at 4-0, followed by Santa Fe and La Serna.
Doug Loo has headed up the program for 20 years and has coached several state qualifiers, over 50 CIF placers, a dozen CIF champs, five state placers and two national placers.
“It’s cool to look back on our success,” says the vibrant Loo.
After a 10-year absence, Loo reformed the program 20 years ago and it’s been one of the top teams in the area. “We have a blueprint and if you follow it, results will follow.”
Loo, who gets down on the mat and holds his own at practice, is in constant motion and the wrestlers feed off of that energy.
“Seeing kids go on to college and earn scholarships is very rewarding,” Loo said.
After league finals this Saturday, competition begins in the various CIF-SS divisions Friday and Saturday (Feb. 14, 15.). The boys will compete in six divisional championships, with the Del Rio League entered in the Central Division, to be held at Palm Springs High.
The DRL will be represented with three wrestlers in each division, which will compete for a CIF title. At CIF, five wrestlers in each weight class will qualify for Masters.
The girls will compete in the CIF-SS Wrestling Tournament for the first time Friday and Saturday (Feb. 21, 22) at Beaumont High.
The top eight wrestlers in each weight class will qualify for the CIF State Invitational Tournament Feb. 27-29 in Bakersfield at Rabobank Arena.
Cal High’s Kelly Escamilla is the spotlight for the girls wrestling team. The junior won the CIF Regionals last year, and finished second in the Masters and the State and looks to go one step further this postseason.
“When Kelly wins, our whole program wins,” Loo said.
Cal High Del Rio League qualifiers:
106 Lbs. – Isaac Fernandez, Junior: Undefeated in the DRL this season and an honor student. “He has worked hard all year,” Loo said. “Look for him to make some noise in CIF.”
113 Lbs. – Sebastian Bojorquez, Senior
120 Lbs. – Tyler Carpenter, Sophomore: One loss in league. Loo: “This kid came from frosh/soph last year and is a solid varsity wrestler. Phenomenal work in the off season.”
126 Lbs. – Elijah Romero, Sophomore and Jeremiah Torres, Sophomore: They challenged each other Thursday for a spot in league. (Results unavailable at press time).
132 Lbs. – David Arevalo, Junior
138 Lbs. – Chris Louden, Freshman: Loo: “He won his challenge to qualify for league.”
145 Lbs. – Nick Oregal, Senior: One of the four-year wrestlers. Loo: “Expect him to make some noise in CIF. He’s a pinner.”
152 Lbs. – Paul Garcia, Junior (Captain): Had a key win over Santa Fe CIF wrestler in league. Loo: “He came out of nowhere. Didn’t wrestle in his sophomore year (broken collar bone). His work in the off season is a testament to his success and is definitely one of the best we have.
160 Lbs. – Edgar Antonio, Senior (Captain): Placed in almost every tournament this year, Loo: “He’s also one of our best.”
170 Lbs. – Hugo Alvarado, Junior: Loo: “He’s an undersized kid filling a spot.”
182 Lbs. – Eremez Villa, Junior: Returning varsity wrestler.
195 Lbs. – Jordan Patterson, Junior: Third in league as a freshman. Second in CIF as a soph and CIF finalist in 2019. Loo: “One of our best.”
220 Lbs. – Collin Sanchez, Junior: Great dual meet wrestler. Won some big matches. Called the “Turtle”. Loo: “If he stays off his shell, he’ll be ok.”
Hwy – Jacob Sanchez, Senior: First year. Football standout (DE and TE). Big, strong kid. “He won his spot on his third day of practice,” said Loo.
Loo gave his assistants high praise for raising the level of the program for years.
“We wouldn’t be here without our coaching staff,” said Loo, who became emotional on their valuable contributions to Cal High wrestling. “They are loyal, humble and unselfish. The program feeds itself.”