By Steve Breazeale

The San Clemente Youth Wrestling Program knew that if they were going to claim the 4th annual Western States Championships on June 1, they would have to go through perennial powerhouse Poway in order to get there.

When it came down to it, it was the San Clemente club notched dead even with Poway at the top of the heap and the two groups split a share of first-place.

“To be the champ you have to beat the champ and we really wanted to beat Poway, unfortunately we had a few of our better kids not available. But tying Poway tells us that the program is definitely headed in the correct direction,” San Clemente Youth Wrestling head coach Mike Marshall said in a press release.

Teams from California, Arizona and Nevada showed up for the tournament with participants ranging from ages 4-15. In all, 29 different youth wrestling clubs were represented at the tournament, which was held at San Clemente High.

San Clemente had 15 different wrestlers medal in their respective weight groups and age divisions, including four gold-medal winners.

Graysen Crites won the four to five-year-old, 34-40 pound weight class. Eight-year-old Jayson Flener won his age bracket. Christian Nunez (13-14-year olds) won the 71-81 pound bracket while teammate Kyle Marshall won the 140-152 pound division.

Elias Briones (40-45 pounds), Bryce Kohler (60-65), Daniel Smiley (63-70), Alec Fletes (129-140), Thomas Wilfert (142-150) and Jimmy Klink (140-155) all finished second in their weight classes.

Justin Root (51-61), Cody Marshall (62-63), Jackson Combs (91-96), Hunter Gallagher (92-98) and Mark Calentino (138-140) finished third in their groups.

“Many of these boys have been practicing and training since mid-November and as a staff we are really very pleased with the progress we see in the individuals as well as the club as a whole.” Marshall said.

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