Canoga Park's Adrian Escobar captures his third City Section wrestling title

Adrian Escobar wanted more than just a win Saturday night at the City Section championships — he wanted to leave a legacy.

The Canoga Park wrestler did exactly that, becoming the Hunters’ first three-time section champion with a 13-2 major decision over Aiden Martinez of Birmingham for his third consecutive 113-pound crown. COVID-19 robbed him of his chance to compete his freshman year, otherwise he might have made it four in a row.

“I’ve dominated this weight class for three years and I made history tonight,” said Escobar, who lost only one match to a City opponent in three years — a decision to James Van Wagenen of Palisades at regionals last year that he avenged a week later in the City final. “I walk around at 125 so I do have to cut, but I feel I’m at my most powerful and healthiest at this weight. I’m aiming for state and I’m prepared to take it.”

Is he ever. Escobar dominated the final City match of his career the way he dominated every other, waiting for his opponent to make a mistake and pouncing. He is all but impossible to score on, using cat-quick reflexes and superior strength to repel any shot. Shortly after having his hand raised in victory, Escobar rushed over and hugged his freshman sister Valerie Miranda, who was wrestling Diana Barone of Birmingham at the same time and won 10-6 in the girls’ 105 division, giving the family two City champions in the same evening.

“My mom was losing her marbles,” Escobar said. “Miranda is picking up where I left off.”

In the most drama-filled match of the tournament, Van Wagenen was ahead 7-6 in the final seconds of his 126-pound tussle with Birmingham’s Roman Arakelyan when both went down in a heap and for several tense seconds neither was sure of the outcome. Arakelyan believed he was awarded a reversal, which would’ve given him a one-point win. Instead, Van Wagenen was credited with two points for a near fall and waved to the crowd after his hard-fought 9-6 triumph. The victory completed a remarkable run through the regionals and championships in which the Palisades senior pinned six of his seven opponents in the first period.

Birmingham swept the boys’ and girls’ team championships, winning its sixth consecutive boys’ title and third straight girls’ crown. For the boys, Henry Aslikyan won at 106, Arno Vardanyan won at 120, Draven Lukata won at 132, Greg Torosian won at 144 and Nikita Smatov at 157.

For the Birmingham girls, Avy Perez was named the lower weights MVP after pinning San Fernando’s Hailee Moreno in the second period at 110 pounds.

Daniela Lopez of Sylmar was the upper weights MVP by virtue of her victory over Birmingham’s Bailey Gutierrez at 140.

For the boys, Smatov was named the upper weights MVP and John Alvarez of San Fernando was named the lower weights MVP after beating Manuel Sandoval of San Pedro by fall in 5:30.

City Wrestling Championships
Boys team standings
1. Birmingham, 279.5
2. San Fernando, 236.5
3. El Camino Real, 148.5

Girls team standings
1. Birmingham, 282.5
2. Eagle Rock, 117
3. Granada Hills 102

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