February 27, 2009
By John Philip Wyllie
Led by a group of four CIF champion wrestlers, Bonita Vista High School under the direction of former Mexican Olympic wrestler, Gabe Ruz captured the Mesa League and Metro Conference wrestling championships again this season. Last Saturday in the Division II CIF Tournament at San Pasqual High, the Barons went on to take third place in the entire county behind only Mt. Carmel and Hilltop. In winning three consecutive Mesa League championships Ruz has created a South Bay wrestling dynasty. His teams have also gone on to claim back to back Metro Conference championships.
“In addition to our four CIF champions Cody Lopez (189) Frank Bell (171) Nick Barnes (160) and Ricky Haynes (119) we had one runner-up last weekend in Hector Arambula (152), one third place finisher (Carlos Ayala (125) and one fifth place finisher freshman Michael Jaimes (112),” Ruz said.
Jaimes was perhaps the best story of the season. Up until the tail end of the season Jaimes, a freshman, was a junior varsity wrestler. When the Barons varsity 112 pounder came down with the flu for the regular season finale against Hilltop, Jaimes was brought up to the “A” team. He was given his baptism of fire in the most important match of the season and against a highly accomplished opponent, the Lancers Anthony Salinas. While he didn’t defeat Salinas, he gave him a good battle. More importantly, he didn’t allow himself to be pinned. Had he been pinned Bonita would have surrendered their Mesa League title to a very solid Hilltop team.
By virtue of his follow-up second place Metro Conference and fifth place CIF showings Jaimes joins an elite group of seven wrestlers that will represent BV on Saturday at Olympian High School in the prestigious Masters Tournament. A good showing there may punch some of their tickets to Bakersfield for the final competition of the scholastic year, the California State Championship.
Over the course of the season Bell and Barnes were the most dominant in their respective weight classes posting identical 36-3 records, but the teams success was based mire on its depth than individual performances. Ruz, having built the program from the ground up has seen it expand both in quantity and quality. This season he was able to throw quality wrestlers on to the mat at virtually every weight class. And it should only get better for the Barons next year. Ruz loses just two wrestlers to graduation (Nick Barnes and Hector Arambula). Both of them are exploring scholarship possibilities with U.C. Bakersfield and Cal State Fullerton.
“I am only losing two seniors, so I really believe that next year will see our toughest team yet.”