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Valencia wrestler preps for state meet

Viking Chance Rich to compete today in Bakersfield

Posted: March 3, 2016 10:44 p.m.
Updated: March 3, 2016 10:44 p.m.
Valencia wrestler Chance Rich, behind, pinned Liam Cronin in the semis of the CIF-SS Masters Meet in Ontario on Saturday. Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/For The Signal  Valencia wrestler Chance Rich, behind, pinned Liam Cronin in the semis of the CIF-SS Masters Meet in Ontario on Saturday. Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/For The Signal 
Valencia wrestler Chance Rich, behind, pinned Liam Cronin in the semis of the CIF-SS Masters Meet in Ontario on Saturday. Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/For The Signal 
Valencia wrestler Chance Rich, front, gets a hug from assistant coach Felicia Oh, as head coach Brian Peterson looks on after Rich pinned Servite’s Liam Cronin in Saturday’s semifinal at the CIF-SS Masters Meet in Ontario. Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/For The Signal Valencia wrestler Chance Rich, front, gets a hug from assistant coach Felicia Oh, as head coach Brian Peterson looks on after Rich pinned Servite’s Liam Cronin in Saturday’s semifinal at the CIF-SS Masters Meet in Ontario. Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/For The Signal
Valencia wrestler Chance Rich, front, gets a hug from assistant coach Felicia Oh, as head coach Brian Peterson looks on after Rich pinned Servite’s Liam Cronin in Saturday’s semifinal at the CIF-SS Masters Meet in Ontario. Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/For The Signal
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Chance Rich didn’t have his best match in the CIF-Southern Section Masters Meet finals against the No. 2-ranked wrestler in the section at Citizens Business Bank Arena last Saturday.

The Valencia High sophomore wrestler didn’t execute the way he wanted to and lost to freshman Luciano Arroyo of Calvary Chapel by a score of 11-3, taking second place in Southern California.

But even though Rich wasn’t crowned the 2015 CIF-SS champion, the 113-pounder’s impressive second-place finish automatically qualified him for the CIF State Boys Wrestling Championships, a double-elimination tournament, which takes place today and Saturday at Rabobank Arena in Bakersfield.

And Rich, for one, believes he’ll be even more prepared this time around.

“I’m happy still with my (overall) performance but I’m still a little upset (about the loss),” Rich said. “This gives me a lot of motivation for this week. It makes me want to work even harder. I’m going to have to work on the stuff I did wrong, going to have to condition a little better, and this week I’ll be ready.”

Rich had an impressive showing at Masters — going 4-1 on the weekend, including pinning the No. 1 wrestler in the state in just 1 minute, 15 seconds. You could say his head coach impressed.

“His performance in this tournament has been the highlight of our career so far,” said Valencia head coach Brian Peterson of Rich. “It’s the best we’ve ever wrestled. Things are starting to come together.

“We still have a lot to learn,” he said. “We’re only a sophomore, so there’s definitely plenty of holes in our game that we can fill. But he’s learning to be a fighter right now, and I think he’s got it in his head now, especially after that (pin), that was an incredible accomplishment.”

The pin on Servite High’s Liam Cronin, the No. 1 wrestler in California, was monumental for Rich and the Valencia wrestling program, which is in just its second year.

In just a little over a minute, Rich put himself on the map when he defeated the 2015 CIF State second-place finisher.

“He’s a senior, and I remember looking at him last year thinking, ‘Wow, I want to be like that kid because he had made it to the (state) finals,’” Rich said. “Going out there, I wasn’t nervous at all. I was just ready to go. Once I went out there, I knew I was going to do my thing. Once I got that pin, it was just amazing. It was crazy.”

But in the final of the Masters Meet, Rich got behind early. He was down 5-0 to Arroyo at the end of the first period, and 7-0 at the end of the second frame.

Rich tried to make his move in the third period, but Arroyo kept the pressure on.

“In the match, I just wasn’t working hard enough,” Rich said. “I started to come on more in the third period with my setups, I started figuring it out. But by that time, it was too late, I let him work his moves more than I did mine.”

Rich, who is ranked No. 10 in the state according to ccsrank.com and No. 6 on Calgrappler.com, will now join the top wrestlers in the state beginning today in Bakersfield.

The sophomore is scheduled to face Birmingham junior Derrick Matal, who finished in second place in the Los Angeles City Section Masters Meet.

If Rich advances to the second day of competition, it’s possible he will be on a collision course to face both Cronin and Arroyo again.

“These are really good guys,” Peterson said after Rich beat Cronin. “Any of these guys can beat each other on any given day. We just proved to ourselves that we’re in that same group of on any given day, we can win. Now, we just have to keep working.”

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