Archuleta wrestles way to semifinals at state meet |

Archuleta wrestles way to semifinals at state meet

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As a sophomore, Anthony Archuleta wrestled for a school by the Pacific Ocean and placed third at state.

Last year as a junior, Archuleta wrestled for a school near the desert and placed fourth at state.

Friday, Archuleta proved he can represent a foothill school just as well. The Nevada Union senior put a whipping on three opponents to advance to the semifinals of the 125-pound weight class of the 2002 California Interscholastic Federation State Wrestling Championships in the Spano Center at the University of Pacific, Stockton.

With Friday’s trio of wins, Archuleta is guaranteed of placing at state for the third consecutive year. He is also two matches away from a state title.

“I am going to go out there and give everything I got,” a confident Archuleta said. “Ever since I hurt my knee, I’ve had to wrestle every match as if it could be my last.”

Today, at 10 a.m., Archuleta, ranked third in the state, will face a top-five-ranked opponent in Jason Williams of Clovis in the 125-pound semifinal match. Pilcher said the match-up should be interesting, as Williams has shown in matches studied by the NU coaching staff to be more of a defensive wrestler.

A victory over Williams would probably set up a title bout between Archuleta and three-time state champion Darrell Vasquez of Bakersfield.

“Anthony’s attitude is great, and right now he is a happy camper,” NU coach Steve Pilcher said. “It is all coming together. If we can win one more, we can hopefully make history.”

If Archuleta were to meet Vasquez in the finals, history is sure to be made. It has been more than one year since Vasquez has lost to a wrestler from California. No wrestler has ever won four California state wrestling titles, and on the flip side, no NU wrestler has won a state title since the tournament’s inception in 1973.

For those interested in catching this year’s wrestling finals, the championship bouts are slated for 7 p.m., today, at UOP. It is recommended that one get there much earlier than that, as seating is limited. Semifinal bouts begin at 10 a.m., with medal bouts for third, fifth, and seventh place to begin at 2 p.m.

The knee, injured earlier this year, could not slow Archuleta Friday, nor could a nose that has been busted twice this season, most recently just eight days prior to the state tournament.

Archuleta, wearing a beige face protector he wore en route to last week’s section title, recorded two falls Friday, the second in his quarterfinals showdown with Jeremiah Davis of Monte Vista.

Archuleta scored this first points of the quarterfinals match in the opening moments of the second period. Davis, starting from the down position, tried to somersault his way to an escape, but Archuleta clamped down on the move to score two near fall points.

Davis made an escape midway through the second period, but Archuleta struck quickly again with a spear double-leg move for takedown, the force of which was so great that Davis had to take an injury timeout.

Twenty seconds after the match resumed, Archuleta earned the pin, a berth in the semifinals, and an understandable reason to joyfully shout as he did.

“He actually wasn’t wrestling as aggressively as he did in his first two matches,” Pilcher said. “He was feeling the pressure a little, you could tell. But tomorrow there is no pressure, because he has already medalled.”

Archuleta opened his campaign of the 33-wrestler weight class Friday with a first-period pin of John Orsuna from Orland.

The pair had met once before this season, with Archuleta also winning that match at the Asics Foothill tournament by fall.

“I went out there and wrestled the way I wanted to wrestle,” Archuleta said. “I waited for him to make a mistake, and when he did, I stuck it do him.”

Archuleta then defeated Virgil Lockett of George Washington to reach the quarterfinals, 13-5. Archuleta scored three takedowns in the first period, with Lockett managing to score only three escapes and a third-period reversal.

“Anthony was wrestling just to win in subsections two weeks ago,” Pilcher said. “Today, he was wrestling to make history.”

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