Japanese wrestlers visit Los Banos

By David Witte / sports@losbanosenterprise.comJanuary 17, 2013 

Buhach Colony senior Carlos Gutierrez hasn't wrestled a freestyle match since his sophomore year. But Japanese national champion Hisaka Tsuyoki reacquainted Gutierrez with the term "touch-fall" during their match Tuesday at Los Banos High.

Gutierrez, along with Golden Valley wrestler Cristian Vazquez, joined the Tiger Wrestling Club in welcoming a team of 13 Japanese national title holders in a dual meet. The Japanese defeated the club, made up of mostly LBHS wrestlers in that age group, 50-1.

Gutierrez, the heavyweight, lost his match when Tsuyoki grabbed him by the shoulders, lifted him with ease, and slammed him to the mat flat on his back. In scholastic wrestling, that would be a 2-point takedown, but in freestyle it counts as a pin.

"End of sophomore year, I got thrown like that by the fourth seed in the state right now, Kenneth Clark," said Gutierrez, who spent the last six months recovering from a torn ACL. "There's bigger guys here in the states. It's freestyle. We just switched it from collegiate to freestyle, and I only practiced freestyle for about 20 minutes before I came here."

The different rules of freestyle came into play after a scoreless first round. Freestyle scoring operates more like a tennis match, where each round has its own score and the best two of three wins. After a scoreless first round, a clinch (a 30-second period where one wrestler begins holding the other's leg), Tsuyoki won the first round. The two grappled for about 30 seconds at the start of the second round before Tsuyoki got a solid grip of Gutierrez's upper body and shoulder him for an earth-shaking body slam to win the match.

"I knew I choked to go forward, and that's when I knew it was going to be all bad from there," Gutierrez said. "Coach Perez told me to step forward and come up, body lock, and I did not process that well in the match."

The Japanese wrestlers, on a tour that began in the Bay Area and touched upon Sacramento and Yosemite, brought a different style and intensity. Only Golden Valley's Vazquez was able to score, when he earned a 1-point takedown in the first round.

First-year Los Banos wrestler Phillip Martinez learned just how quick the Japanese were when his opponent, Konno Kota, took just six seconds to slam him for a touch-fall.

"It's a unique experience, showing the community that wrestling is much broader than just what we see on a daily basis and in dual meets here," Tiger Wrestling coach Josh Adams said. "It's an international sport that's been going for as long man has been around."

Los Banos wrestler Jimmy Felix got two chances at the visitors -- he wrestled in his weight, 137 pounds, and also stepped in at 143, where there was no local to fill in. He lost 6-0, 4-0 to Takeshita Yuki at 137, then lost 6-0, 6-0 to Sasaki Yujiro.

"It was fun, get thrown around a little bit. Wasn't too bad," Felix said. "In folkstyle not so much, but when I go to freestyle matches I wrestle some guys like that. People that just don't really care, it's just, 'Aaaah!' and throwing."

Enterprise reporter David Witte can be reached by phone at 388-6565 or by e-mail at sports@losbanosenterprise.com

Enterprise reporter David Witte can be reached by phone at 388-6565 or by e-mail at sports@losbanosenterprise.com

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