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Hoover's Gio Martinez captures first individual Rio Hondo League wrestling title

Wrestling: Tornadoes' first-ever league individual champion wins 220-pound class.

February 02, 2013|By Andrew Shortall, andrew.shortall@latimes.com

MONROVIA — Hoover High's inaugural season in the Rio Hondo League was described as a roller-coaster ride by wrestling coach Mark Bitetti.

The Tornadoes won their first league dual against St. Paul, but dropped the next four en route to finishing fifth in the six-team league as a team. Things started moving in the right direction again for Hoover at its first taste of the league's individual finals Saturday at Santa Fe Middle School in Monrovia.

Three Hoover wrestlers — Arthur Ghukasyan, Sebastian Ghauliance and Gio Martinez — advanced to the championship round of their respective weight classes, but it was Martinez who brought home the Tornadoes first-ever individual league title by pinning St. Paul's Mark Millan 1:05 into the second period of the 220-pound match.

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“It feels good, I guess; I haven't experienced anything like this so I don't know how I should react,” said Martinez, adding he never expected to be a league champion at the start of the year. “I just told myself I am going to take it one match at a time and see how far I go. So far, I've made it here.”

Martinez fell behind, 2-0, after Millan took him down with 24 seconds left in the first period. The senior brought the deficit to one point when he escaped from Millan's hold with two seconds left in the opening frame.

Things didn't look good for Martinez in the early goings of the second period, as he was on his stomach with Millan leaning over him looking for a pin. That's when Martinez notched a key reversal and flipped Millan to his back before locking his head and working for the pin with 55 seconds to go in the second.

“It was longer than I'm used to, but he was good so I wasn't able to do the usual move,” said Martinez, who’s scored his share of pins in the first period. “I just had to work at it, see what he gives me and take my chance at it.”

While Ghukasyan and Ghauliance weren't crowned league champions, their seasons will still continue as the top-three finishers in each of the 14 weight classes earned a trip to CIF Individuals.

“They're going to work hard all week, it's amazing how much they learn when they have a good week at practice,” Hoover Coach Mark Bitetti said of Ghukasyan, Ghauliance and Martinez. “They're better this week than they were a few weeks ago by far — they all are. They're just raw and learning all the time.”

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