Among the sea of competitors in the Coastal Division of the CIF Southern Section Individual Championships, a trio of San Marino High School wrestlers were crowned champions at Westminster High School over the two-day event.

Titans senior Ryder Yoshitake and sophomores Malia Manibog and Mikel David Uyemura all won CIF titles for the first time as a total of six grapplers qualified for the CIF Southern Section Wrestling Masters Meet held at Palm Springs High beginning Friday, Feb. 16.

“Having three champs this year and just continuing improving, it shows that we’re all doing the right things,” Yoshitake told the Tribune. “As a team, we’re continuing to improve. Hopefully, kids at school who may be just starting wrestling, when they see that our wrestling team had three CIF champions, it will inspire them to come join.

“Although I’m a senior, Mikel David and Malia are both sophomores, so I’m excited to see them make it through.”

Titans sophomore Leah Lopez, junior Maila Arambula and junior Julian Solis will make the Masters Meet trip along with Yoshitake, Manibog and Uyemura. San Marino junior Richard Ma will serve as a Masters alternate in the 120-pound division.

The top five finishers from the Masters Meet will represent the CIF Southern Section at the CIF State Wrestling Championships in Bakersfield beginning Feb. 22.

“Going into the weekend, I thought on our best day we could get eight qualifiers,” San Marino coach Morris Bird said. “Achieving six, plus an alternate, feels successful.”

Titans senior Yoshitake won his first CIF title after finishing runner-up last season.

“It’s always fun to get something you couldn’t get, especially as a senior,” said Yoshitake, who credited Uyemura with the help and training in achieving the senior’s first CIF crown.

Yoshitake was the top seed of the 144-pound bracket. The Titans senior defeated Segerstrom sophomore Oliver Gallardo to start the tournament and followed that with a victory over Leandro Barron of Littlerock. Yoshitake topped JSerra senior Kilian Hannegan in the quarterfinal and won by decision in the semifinal round against St. John Bosco junior Tigran Greyan. The Titan won his first CIF-SS title after his championship matchup against Northview senior Viviano Gutierrez, the division’s No. 2 seed.

On the back of his title-winning performance, Yoshitake will enter the Masters Meet as the No. 1 seed.

“I just need to take care of business again,” Yoshitake said. “It starts with preparation before, making sure my body feels good … and making sure I’m mentally locked in going out there with the right mindset. I think all of that will help me win Masters.”

Manibog was the No. 3 seed in the girls’ 100-pound division, winning the CIF crown for the first time. A judo specialist, Manibog used that to her advantage, catching many of her opponents off guard. The sophomore won her first three rounds in the first period of contention.

“It’s nice to know that all my work has paid off,” said Manibog of winning CIF. “It feels really nice. It’s a title, but at the end of the day, it’s another piece of motivation.”

The sophomore, a two-time Rio Hondo League champ and a returning CIF finalist, said tournament contention was “nerve-wracking,” but regardless, Manibog opened up the championships with a quick victory over Eva Spik of Santa Rosa Academy, followed by first-round wins over Millikan sophomore Jaelen Escala and Apple Valley sophomore Jaelynn Serna.

Manibog went the distance in her semifinal matchup against Hamilton sophomore and bracket No. 2-seeded Evelyn Lopez in a 10-9 decision victory for a spot in the title match against top-seed Lillian Raghoo, a senior from Canyon Springs High. The victory secured Manibog’s second straight Masters qualification.

“I’ll definitely try to stick with the same mindset I had at CIF,” Manibog said of Masters.

Uyemura received a first-round bye in the 150-pound bracket and defeated Buena junior Derek Fennem to start the title-winning run. The sophomore topped Westminster junior Andrew Ferreyra in the following round and Servite freshman Caden Camacho in the semifinal to advance to the championship matchup. Uyemura faced the division No. 2 seed in Yazir Tellez, a senior from St. John Bosco, winning in the first round of the title match.

“It felt pretty good to know that I’ve improved from last year,” said Uyemura in a text message to the Tribune. “I’m excited to see how I perform the rest of the postseason.”

The sophomore told the Tribune that staying focused and learning from past lessons were key to his success.

“I like to stay confident by trusting my training,” Uyemura said. I focus on having fun and trying my hardest no matter who I’m wrestling.”

Solis, the No. 2 seed of the 215-pound bracket, defeated Jaylin Baker of Palmdale in the opening round of matchups. The junior topped St. John Bosco senior Eduardo Anaya and Segerstrom senior Jeremiah Aguero in the following rounds, but entered the consolation bracket with a loss to Westminster sophomore Edwin Hopkins. Solis entered the fifth-place matchup following a loss to Orange Lutheran senior Tusitala Ili, the No. 8 seed. The Titans junior placed fifth following a 7-6 decision over Ventura junior Jorge Alvarez.

Ma began his run in the 120-pound bracket as the No. 7 seed with a victory over San Marcos junior Anthony Leal and advanced to the quarterfinal with a first-round win against Westminster senior Dylan Tran. The junior fell to No. 2 seed Jonthan Madera of Chino to set up a consolation-round matchup against Angel Villegas of Ontario, a 6-5 decision victory for Ma. The Titan defeated Ventura senior Jayden Tate, the No. 6 seed, in the following round, before losing to Calabasas junior Micah Wegman, the No. 5 seed, for a spot in the third-place matchup. Ma clinched sixth after a loss to No. 4 seed and Northview junior Noah Butler.

Lopez, the No. 3 seed in the 105-pound bracket in the girls’ competition, matched up with Lakeside freshman Danielle Chavez to begin the tournament. The sophomore took down Hesperia sophomore Elyana Valdez in the following round, but met her match against No. 2 seed Alicia Serratos, a sophomore from Santa Ana High. Lopez advanced to the third-place bout after winning a 10-1 decision over Millikan freshman Nohea Booth, the No. 4 seed, and finished third with a 7-1 decision over Beaumont senior Mia Sharp in the finale.

In the girls’ 155-pound bracket, Arambula enjoyed a first-round bye and advanced to the quarterfinal after a 5-0 decision victory over Emily Lent of Silverado. An 8-6 decision win over Hailey Fernandez of Millikan booked a spot in the quarterfinal for Arambula, but the junior fell to Berlynn Solia-Tago of Long Beach Poly to enter the consolation bracket.

Arambula reached the fifth-place match after victories against Rylee Moorehead of Elsinore High and Michelle Flores of Rio Mesa, and a loss to Athena Saenz Fran of Paloma Valley. The junior was defeated by Dolores Flores of Orange High to finish sixth.

First published in the Feb. 15 issue of the San Marino Tribune