Duel Championships Kickoff Postseason Campaigns

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Brawley Union High's Jacob Moreno wrestles in the finals of the Holtville Rotary Invitational on Jan. 30. Photo by: Vincent Osuna
Brawley Union High’s Jacob Moreno wrestles in the finals of the Holtville Rotary Invitational on Jan. 30. Photo by: Vincent Osuna

It has been a long and grueling season for the local high school wrestling teams and as the season winds down the competition is getting tougher.

This weekend will begin the final four weeks of the season starting with the second ever CIF-San Diego Section Duel Meet Championships.

The championships take all the top eight schools from each division and pit them against each other in an eight-team bracket to determine the division champion.

In last year’s inaugural tournament, the highest seed hosted a duel on Tuesday and then wrestled the final two rounds on Thursday.

This year things are going to be a little different. Instead of breaking up the days the tournament will be held on one day at a neutral location.

“I wasn’t the biggest fan of this tournament in the beginning, mostly because we are already beating ourselves up for three spots to go to state in back-to-back weekends and now we have another week of tough competition,” Brawley Union High head coach Tony Leon said. “I did like that we were the highest seed and were able to host it. I thought we deserved that again this year so it’s just another headache.”

The tournament will be broken up into two locations with both divisions one and three competing at Mira Mesa High School and divisions two and four at Rancho Bernardo High School.

As defending champions, Brawley received the No. 1 seed for division three and division four will feature two Imperial Valley schools as Holtville will be the No. 3 seed and Imperial received the No. 8 seed.

Inconvenience or not, the duel tournament offers a different type of competition or atmosphere for both wrestlers and the crowds.

“I think the kids just wrestle different, you truly wrestle as a team in an individual sport, whether you’re on the mat or on the bench watching, you’re fully invested in the outcomes,” Leon said. “It’s completely different than the individual tournament … it’s a little more exciting.”

The tournament is set to start at 10 a.m. on Saturday at their respective locations. The finals are slated for 2:30 p.m.

“I’m a little concerned heading in, it’s the end of the season so we have some injuries and are a little mentally drained right now,” Leon said. “I just want them to come out and wrestle like they can. I want them to have that fire to win another championships for this program … if they have intensity and don’t quit, I’ll be happy.”