Gunn pins down important dual match, tourney title | December 23, 2011 | Palo Alto Weekly | Palo Alto Online |

Palo Alto Weekly

Sports - December 23, 2011

Gunn pins down important dual match, tourney title

by Keith Peters

Gunn High junior Eric Cramer is spending the holidays in Hawaii. In fact, he did a little SCUBA diving on Tuesday. Certainly, it was a nice way to relax after he and his wrestling teammates pinned down one of the biggest weekends in program history.

It started with a dominating 56-21 dual-match victory over rival Los Altos to open the SCVAL De Anza Division season on Friday, and ended with a team championship at the 25-team Lynn Dyche Classic tournament in San Jose on Saturday.

Gunn (1-0, 4-0) took 12 wrestlers to the Dyche Classic wrestling tournament at James Lick High and scored 226 points while producing five individual champions, including the Outstanding Wrestler in the lightweight division.

According to Gunn coach Chris Horpel, who was honored with the tournament's Coach's Award, it was the program's first major varsity team title in nearly 40 years.

"I did not do anything differently in our preparation and our results were as much of a surprise to me as they probably were to the other top teams there," said Horpel. "I have a great group and they are learning fast."

St. Francis, ranked No. 2 in the Central Coast Section, was a distant second with 141 points.

"I can point to one thing; we seemed to win many of the very close matches, matches that could have gone either way went our way," Horpel explained. "I credit this to our athletes; their mental toughness, frame of mind, team chemistry. They fed off each other. When one weight pulled out a great win, the next guy thought, why not me?"

Cramer won the 126-pound title with four pins and was named the Outstanding Wrestler in the lighter weights. Junior Daniel Papp won the 113-pound title with two pins, senior Chris Jin won the 152-pound crown, senior Julian Calderon took the 160-pound title and sophomore Sean Lydster won at 195 pounds with three pins.

Sophomore Cadence Lee had a pair of pins while taking second at 106 pounds, junior Blaze Lee was third at 145 points with three pins, freshman Ian Cramer took the 120-pound crown with two pins, junior Miko Mallari was fourth at 138 with two pins and senior JJ Strnad was fifth at 220 pounds with a pair of pins. The Titans had no entries at 170 and 285 pounds.

"I had no idea we were going to do this well," said Horpel. "It was a lot of fun. I usually have mixed emotions after every competition — there are always kids who rise about what I thought they were going to do as well as kids who wrestled below their potential. This time I drove home just plain giddy . . . not used to that!"

In the division-opening win over Los Altos a day earlier, the Titans came up with eight pins to help secure the victory — Cadence Lee, Papp, Eric Cramer, Blaze Lee, Calderon, Lydster and Strnad. Lydster had the fastest pin for Gunn, in just one minute.

Palo Alto sent only five wrestlers to the Lynn Dyche Classic, but still came away with an individual champion as Erik Anderson won the 182-pound title.

"We had a few wrestlers who needed some varsity matches," said Paly coach Dave Duran.

In addition to the title won by Anderson, who just came out after finishing football, Paly got a second place from Christian Lonsky at 160, third places from Trent Marshall at 145 and Gary Hohbach at 152 and a sixth from Jared Swezey-Gleason at 170.

Next up for the Vikings will be a try-meet with CCS No. 16-ranked San Benito and host St. Francis (No. 2) on Friday. Third-ranked Paly will wrestle San Benito at 11 a.m. and the Lancers at 3 p.m.