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Senior Gevork Manoukian, left, grapples with teammate Marlon Gomez during a Dana Hills wrestling practice. Photo: Steve Sohanaki
Senior Gevork Manoukian, left, grapples with teammate Marlon Gomez during a Dana Hills wrestling practice. Photo: Steve Sohanaki

By Steve Sohanaki

Last Season: The Dolphins finished third in the South Coast League.

Wrestlers to Watch: Christian Clemente, Christian Martindale and Ben Hart.

Circle ‘em: League meets against San Clemente (12/9) and Laguna Hills (1/6) could decide the league title.

Outlook:

When the Dana Hills High School wrestling team finished third behind Laguna Hills and San Clemente in the South Coast League Finals last season, Dolphins assistant coach Sean Barbour was nettled that they placed right behind their southern rivals.

Having been a Dana Hills wrestler himself before graduating twelve years ago, Barbour said that their rivalry with San Clemente has been around as long as he can remember.

“Our goal is to beat San Clemente; our goal is to win it,” Barbour said. “I expect all of our seniors to place in CIF this year. We’re training really hard.”

The Dolphins are currently competing in the South Coast League, which includes third-ranked Laguna Hills, sixth-ranked San Clemente, fifth-ranked Trabuco Hills and Mission Viejo. Because Laguna Hills and San Clemente are both wrestling powerhouses, this league is very competitive in comparison to ones in the past, according to Dana Hills head coach Reza Abedi.

“Our league is tougher than our CIF this year,” Abedi said. “The top four teams in our CIF will definitely be from the South Coast and Sea View leagues.”

The team is older and more experienced than they were last season. Of their 14 starting spots, 10 are seniors and eight of those seniors are returning CIF qualifiers. One of those seniors is Christian Clemente, who took third in the 220-pound weight division at league finals last year. Clemente had a productive offseason, highlighted by a second-place finish at the Halloween Open in October.

“I’ve been lifting and running almost every day,” Clemente said. “My goals this year are to be a league champ, place in the top three at CIF and top eight at Masters.”

The Dolphins will hit the ground running in the league dual meet season with an opening match against San Clemente set for Dec. 9.

Season Schedule

Date                Opponent                            Location, Time

12/5                 Westminster                           Westminster, 9 a.m.

12/9*               San Clemente                           DHHS, 7 p.m.

12/13               La Costa Canyon                      LCCHS, 9 a.m.

12/20               Brea Olinda                              BOHS, 9 a.m.

1/6*                 Laguna Hills                             DHHS, 7 p.m.

1/10                 Tustin                                        THS, 9 a.m.

1/13*               Mission Viejo                            MVHS, 7 p.m.

1/15                 Aliso Niguel                              ANHS, 5:30 p.m.

1/17                 Fountain Valley Tourn.          FVHS, 9 a.m.

1/20*               Trabuco Hills                          THHS, 7 p.m.

*–denotes league match

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