Gunn senior Eric Cramer (126) and sophomore Ian Cramer (132) both won their respective weight divisions, but the Titans needed a few more as they came up short in defending their title at the SCVAL Wrestling Championships on Saturday at Homestead High.
Gunn advanced a record seven wrestlers into the finals and led in the team scoring throughout most of the tournament. During the final round, however, an inspired Monta Vista team slipped past the Titans in the team scoring, 215.5 to 200.5 Meanwhile, Palo Alto finished fifth with 120.5 points.
Although not known at the time, Gunn needed to win seven of its last 13 "medal matches" to clinch the team title. Instead, the Titans won four. Frustratingly, Gunn lost two overtime and two one-point decisions in the finals.
"It was a bittersweet end to a great regular season," said Gunn coach Chris Horpel. "We won the dual-meet title and we were so close to winning the league tournament as well.
"My hat is off to Monta Vista, though; they beat us head-to-head in two finals matches and that basically won the tournament for them. I am hoping that the 'sting' of almost winning this tournament will fuel their performances at CCS."
The top five from the league meet in each weight qualify for CCS and the sixth-place finishers go as alternates. Gunn produced eight qualifiers and two alternates who will travel to Independence High School for the boys' CCS Championships in two weeks. Gunn is currently ranked No. 6 in the section.
That same weekend, three Gunn girls will travel to Lemoore High School for the Girls' State Championships -- Cadence Lee, Grace Robinson and Jessica Sun.
Eric Cramer had one technical fall and one pin on the way to winning the 126-pound crown with a 12-4 major decision over Jacob Jagelski of Los Gatos. Ian Cramer had two pins while capturing the 132-pound division with an injury default over Max Dygert of Monta Vista.
Second-place finishers included Cadence Lee (overtime at 106), Daniel Papp (overtime at 120), Blaze Lee (145), Stephen Martin (9-8 at 182) and Sean Lydster (3-2 at 195).
Eric Calderon was third at 285, Harsha Mokkarala was fourth at 220, Michael Abramovitch finished sixth at 113) as did Dino Soto at 160, Darrion Yang was seventh at 152 and Takeru Nishi finished eighth at 170.
Palo Alto had two individual champions in Gary Hohbach (152) and Andrew Frick (195). Hohbach pinned Josh Robinson of Wilcox his finale in 3:19 while Frick decisioned Gunn's Lydster, 3-2.
"This was a little redemption for Hohbach," said Paly coach Dave Duran. "Gary did not have the tournament he wanted last season. This stuck with him for an entire year -- not anymore. He walked through the tournament.
"Andrew has been wrestling much better the past few weeks. He showed improvement again, finishing with a solid performance in the finals."
Paly, which took only 10 wrestlers to the league finals, had more than half drop a weight class -- James Giaccia (106), Eric Oshima (138), Hohbach (152), Jordan Gans (160), Erik
Anderson (170) and Frick to 195. Alex Taussig went up a weight class to 220. All qualified to the CCS tournament.
"We were missing three quality wrestlers who would have scored points for us and qualified to the section tournament," said Duran. "When it's time to wrestle you have to go with what you have.
Overall, we were pleased with the performance.
"It has been a little tough since we returned from winter break. We have not been able to practice in our normal fashion and it showed a bit. Our goal was to get all of our point scorers through to the section tournament. We did accomplish this. Now we have two weeks to get ready. We want to make a push for another top 4 finish, and we have time to do this."
A day earlier, Gunn sophomore Shelby Oyung (113), senior Erik Qian (152) and sophomore Kirill Demyanenko (220) led the Titans by winning individual league titles at the SCVAL JV Championships at Homestead High. In all, 11 Titans won medals at this end-of-season event.