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Wrestling takes hold at Hoover

First year of Tornadoes grappling program leads to hopes of expansion and league membership next season.

February 11, 2012|By Gabriel Rizk, gabriel.rizk@latimes.com

When the Hoover High wrestling program begins its second season next winter, Coach Mark Bitetti looks forward to counting on having the equipment and space to practice, a likely new home in an established league and some tournament experience in tow. Most importantly, Bitetti now knows he has some kids who can really wrestle after taking to the sport in the first year it’s existed at Hoover.

“The year was kind of about like expected,” said Bitetti, a teacher and freshman football coach at Hoover. “We were young, it was our first year getting our feet wet and we had a couple of kids do pretty darn well this year. We’re going to be OK because most of the kids are coming back. ...I think next year we’ll do better.”

With no other wrestling programs in the Pacific League, where all of the Tornadoes’ other sports teams reside, Hoover was mostly limited to tournaments when it came to live competition, although the Tornadoes did engage in one dual meet with South Pasadena on Jan. 12.

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“We did OK, we hung in there,” said Bitetti, who’s team lost, 46-36, but in the process got wins from Arman Arshakyan, Arthur Ghukasyan and Jose Abrina.

Ghukasyan, a sophomore, was one of the few members of the team with wrestling experience and he enjoyed an undefeated season in the 145-pound weight class.

“It went pretty good,” Ghukasyan said of the inaugural season. “[The program] has a good future. We’re getting better.”

Hoover was involved in three tournaments over the course of the season, including the Northview junior varsity tournament, where the Tornadoes placed fourth. Members of the team also enjoyed some individual success at the Arroyo Tournament to close out the season.

Junior Gio Martinez (220) and sophomore Abrina (170) both won their weight classes at the tournament.

“I liked how it was a one-on-one sport, not like in football where you could rely on your teammates, it’s all on you,” said Abrina, a first-time wrestler, who also plays football at Hoover. “It felt good to win at least one.

“Our first year was great, so I’m expecting more [people to come out] next year.”

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