Apparently, Hoover High senior wrestler Arthur Ghukasyan was in such a hurry to advance to the CIF State Meet that he accomplished his season-long goal in one day.
Ghukasyan continued his historic season by going 3-0 on the first day of the CIF Southern Section Masters Meet at Citizens Business Bank in Ontario and not only vaulted himself into the 160-pound semifinals, but already clinched a spot to the season-ending state championships next weekend at Bakersfield’s Rabobank Arena.
“I know that I already qualified for state and it feels good, believe me, but there’s still some work to do,” Ghukasyan said. “Maybe after state I’ll be happy, but right now I’m focused on what’s next.”
What Ghukasyan has awaiting in Saturday’s 11 a.m. semifinal might just be tougher than anyone the Tornadoes senior will see in Bakersfield, as he’s now in the cross hairs of state top-ranked Bryan Salinas of Covina Northview.
“It’s an awesome challenge and to be honest, we’re really excited for the opportunity,” Hoover Coach Dave Beard said. “We know just how good Bryan Salinas is, but this is an opportunity to further show off Arthur and to show he’s no fluke. He’s worked hard to get to this point.”
Even if Ghukasyan (20-1) loses two matches Saturday, he’s still assured of a top-nine spot necessary to advance to Bakersfield.
Perhaps Ghukasyan’s only challenge Friday came from Redlands East Valley junior Blake Stevenson in the quarterfinals.
Ghukasyan, who hadn’t been ranked before this week, held a 4-2 lead in the fourth quarter versus Stevenson before the 28th-ranked grappler was awarded a point on a stalling violation accessed to Ghukasyan and a late escape, which sent the bout to overtime tied at 4.
In the extra session, though, the 36th-ranked Ghukasyan was the beneficiary of a call as Stevenson was warned before being eventually given his own stalling violation, which gave a point and the win to Ghukasyan.
“There’s no question in my mind that Arthur was the better wrestler,” Beard said. “The other guy was backing up and going out of bounds, he didn’t want to wrestle.”
Ghukasyan began his day versus unranked Ryan Atascadero, who finished fourth at the Central Division championships.
Atascadero didn’t present too much of a challenge for Ghukasyan, who won the match 7-2.
The victory was followed by a 6-0 triumph over Long Beach Millikan’s Chris Messerschmitt in the second round.
“I really thought it was going to be more difficult than that,” said Ghukasyan, now the area’s lone survivor. “ I guess I really did [well] in my first two rounds.
“I came here with a mindset that I want to win every single match. If I don’t make mistakes then I think I can beat anyone and I like my chances [Saturday].”