A contingent of high school wrestlers gathered at Monrovia High on Feb. 2 for the Rio Hondo League finals for a chance to write their names into the record books.
For the Burbank boys’ wrestling team, Sevak Araklyen and Richard Kalajyan won league titles, while Kendall Chapman captured a league crown for the girls’ team. Along with league champions, a total of 14 Bulldog wrestlers qualified for the CIF Southern Section Individual Championships.
Chapman spearheaded the Bulldogs with a league championship in the 130-pound division. Chapman defeated Marie Basset of La Cañada by a 3-2 decision in the title match.
Araklyen started the tournament with a first-round bye in the 132-pound bracket but made quick work of Case Bertonneau of La Cañada to advance to the championship match. In the title bout, the 132-pound grappler defeated Vahagn Sakanyan of Hoover in the first round to be named league champion.
Kalajyan defeated Christian Oliveros of San Marino in the first round of the 138-pound bracket, and followed that up with a first-period victory over Daniel Zendejas of Monrovia in the semifinal. In the championship match, the 138-pound grappler defeated Clive Fernando of La Cañada to win the title.
Five grapplers from the boys’ team were named runner-up: Daniel Hambardzumyan, Nathan Hinojosa, Dylan Vo, Vladislav Pak and Maxim Pogosyan.
Hambardzumyan fell to Sasha Kliegl of La Cañada in the second round of the 106-pound championship match.
Hinojosa advanced to the 113-pound title match following a third period win over Christopher Lee of Monrovia in the semifinal. In his tournament finale, however, Hinojosa fell to Jacob Gonzalez of Monrovia in a 5-4 decision.
Vo reached the 157-pound championship with a decision victory, 11-1, over Tigran Galstian of Hoover, but fell in the first round of the title match to Devin Booth of Monrovia.
In the 190-pound finale, Pak was bested by Dylan Baetsle of La Cañada in a 15-7 decision. The Bulldog advanced to the title bout with an opening-period victory over Vincent Hurd of Monrovia in the tournament semifinal.
Pogosyan competed against the heavyweights, first defeated Geoffrey Butler of La Cañada in the third round of the 285-pound matchup. In the championship bout, Pogosyan fell to Matthew Negroe of San Marino in the first round.
Meanwhile, Andre Takhmasian finished third in the boys 215-pound bracket for Burbank. Takhmasian defeated Edil Edilyan in the first period of his tournament opener, but fell into the consolation bracket after a semifinal loss to Bryan Green of La Cañada. In the third-place matchup, Takhmasian defeated Francisco Zamora of Monrovia in a 5-4 decision.
Five Burbank wrestlers finished runner-up in the girls’ competition: Austin Desai, Leilah Hernandez, Heidi Palacios, Isabelle Ruiz and Erin Sarkisian.
Competing in the 105-pound bracket, Desai defeated Mariela Andrews of Monrovia in the opening period of the first round and lost to Leah Lopez of San Marino in the second round of the championship matchup.
Hernandez, grappling in the 120-pound division, opened up her run with a first-period victory against Heidi Reed of Monrovia where she met and fell to Angel Lee of La Cañada in the second round of the title match.
Palacios advanced to the 155-pound championship bout following a forfeit in the opening round. The Bulldog fell to Malia Arambula of San Marino in the second round of the championship.
Ruiz defeated Emily Reyes of Monrovia in the second round of her first tournament matchup in the 170-pound competition, but was defeated by Iris Rivas of La Cañada in the third round of the title bout.
Following a first-round bye, Sarkisian fell to Vera Grivennikova of La Cañada in the 190-pound title match.
The CIF Southern Section Individual Wrestling Championships took place over two days beginning Friday, Feb. 9, across six different school sites. Wrestlers participated in the semifinal and championship matches on Saturday, Feb. 10.
Top finishers will qualify for the CIF Southern Section Wrestling Masters Meet to be held at Palm Springs High School on Friday, Feb. 16.
First published in the February 10 print issue of the Burbank Leader.