Wrestlers at San Marino High took the opportunity to honor the past while creating a new tradition in their final dual meet of the season against visiting Marshall Fundamental.
The matchup between the Titans and the Eagles is now known as the “Skirmish for the Skillet,” the name being a reference to the new trophy that was unveiled at the meet on Jan. 25.
It will belong to the winner of the matchup until it is up for grabs again when the two teams meet again next season.
The trophy is literally a large metal skillet that has the schools’ names and the phrase “Skirmish for the Skillet” painted on it along with school-specific imagery in the center.
“I bought the skillet and had an artist paint it depicting a Greek image that represents Prometheus Titan and an eagle, which is [Marshall’s] mascot,” San Marino coach Morris Bird said.
On the surface, the choice of Marshall for this traveling trophy is not obvious, until you look at the formative connections between the two.
“It’s an exciting tradition we are hoping to start. Morris Bird’s brainchild, his idea and a fantastic way to hopefully connect schools that wrestle,” Marshall coach Daniel Jarashow said. “It’s funny, we didn’t have a wrestling program five years ago. [Bird] actually helped build the wrestling program at Marshall when he worked at Beat the Streets.”
Before the wrestling began, the Titans honored Carl Hulick, who was in attendance, said a few words before the meet and presided over the coin flip. Hulick was from the class of 1978 and was the school’s first state medalist, capturing a fifth-place finish.
“It’s just a pleasure to be here,” Hulick said of returning to his alma mater. “It’s a good town. These boys have more opportunities than other people do because of the wealth that they come from, and they have a chance to either do really well with it or screw things up, and it’s their choice. I hope they learn something from the advantage. They have to be good, strong leaders and good, strong caring, empathetic people.”
On the mats, it was visiting Marshall that came out on top of the first Skirmish for the Skillet, besting San Marino 48-31 in the nonleague boys’ wrestling encounter and taking the trophy back to Pasadena.
“Hopefully, next year we go to Marshall and then we get the skillet back,” Bird said.
The final matchup of the meet was the 157-pound bout which featured Titans senior Ryder Yoshitake. The senior made quick work of his Eagles counterpart, securing the pin in the opening round.
“It was my last match here at San Marino, so I just wanted to have some fun,“ Yoshitake said. “We got some walk-up songs, which is cool. I’m just thankful to all the coaches for my time here, so it was great.”
When Yoshitake finishes his high school career, he will go on to study and wrestle at Cornell University in NCAA Division I competition.
“When I was looking through the colleges, I just felt Cornell was the best opportunity for me to pursue my education and just improve as a wrestler,” Yoshitake said. “They took third at D-I nationals, so I feel like it’s the best place for me to continue to grow as a wrestler and student.”
The meet started with the matchup at 165 pounds and was won by Titan Mikel Uyemura. The sophomore went the distance, coming out on top in a 16-7 decision. The Eagles then captured wins in the 175- and 190-pound matchups by pin to seize the 12-4 advantage.
The Titans came right back by winning the next two classes by pin. First was Julian Solis in the 215-pound matchup, who pinned his Eagle opponent with 1:25 left in the third and final round.
“I just wanted to get a pin and help my team out and that was it,” Solis said. “I knew it was going to be a tough dual meet, so I just wanted to get the pin for the most points.”
Next was the heavyweight matchup, also won by the hosts when Titan Matt Negroe came back to get the pin, allowing his team to retake the lead at 16-12.
“He bumped up from 215 to heavyweight and was wrestling an opponent much bigger than him,” Bird said. “I’ve asked him to bump up to heavyweight before, but there has never been much of a weight difference. This [time] it was a noticeable weight difference. When the match started, I was afraid he was a little overmatched just in terms of pure size and strength. So when he fought back in his match after being down to get a pin was huge.”
However, Marshall wrestlers won five of the next six. It started with a pin at 106, by forfeit at 113 and another pin at 120. Titans senior Brian Heckman then won by forfeit at 126 before an Eagle pinned a Titan at both 132 and 138 pounds.
Next, at 144, Titan Jack Gregson pushed through an illness to secure an 8-5 win by decision.
“I’m too sick to do this and it sucks, but I won,” Gregson said.
Marshall won by pin next at 150 pounds before it was time for Yoshitake to conclude the action with his win at 157.
Before the boys got started, the San Marino girls’ team had come out on top, beating Marshall 30-18. A highlight was a win by Titan freshman Chloe Souza.
“[Souza] got her first win ever. She bumped up a weight class,” Bird said. “She was super excited to get her first win ever and I was super happy for her.”
First published in the Feb. 1 issue of the San Marino Tribune