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Wrestling: Long Beach Grapplers Shine at Moore League Finals

The562’s wrestling coverage for the 2023-24 school year is sponsored by Emigh Dental Care.

Before the season, Millikan coach Blake Lovato acknowledged the Rams had some talented wrestlers graduate from the program – but he was quick to say that right behind those guys was the next line to carry on their Moore League excellence. 

While the Rams didn’t match their eight titles from last season, they captured six of the individual titles Saturday afternoon at Millikan; Poly had the second-most with five.

Last season saw most of the league champions graduate, so a majority of this year’s winners were new to the podium.

Poly’s Knox Espinoza was the first to win the 106 title after he pinned Lakewood’s Robert Carbajal.

Following that match, Jacob Jenner proved his decision to cut weight and compete at the 113 weight class was a good decision as he pinned Millikan’s Chase Antrobious.

“The weight cut was rough,” Jenner said. “It was a good 25 pounds, it was rough – I got it done. Did is better than last year and I think it’s paying off right now.”

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As for winning the league crown, Jenner is ready to move on to CIF individuals.

“I only got two matches – I wish I got more,” Jenner said. “I had a good time preparing for this finals match. This feels like any other day, I’m just getting a patch and I’m coming for the second one next year.”

In one of the thrilling matches of the day, Millikan’s Daniel Kroll picked up the Rams first title in the 132 bout defeated Poly’s Rocky Lo 6-5.

“This feels amazing,” Kroll said. “Throughout that match I knew I could win, I knew I had the upper hand I just didn’t  want to give up anything crazy – which did happen. But we went through and dominated.”

Kroll’s victory was the first of three bouts that went to decision as Poly’s Jayden Ekong and Wilson’s Anthony Vera won by decision.

In the 150-pound bout, Millikan was able to show off what the future holds for the program as freshman Chris Anguiano pinned Lakewood’s Daniel Quezada.

“This feels good, I’m really happy,” Anguiano said. “I hope I can do this the next three years and be a four-time Moore League champ.”

Anguiano’s victory got the momentum going as the Rams won the next three matches with Travis Costello (157), Trey Culwell (165) and Ryan Kaven (175) winning their matches. 

In the 190-pound final, Lakewood’s Nelson Ramirez was able to get a little bit of revenge as he picked up his second straight Moore League title – this one coming in a lower weight class after the 195-pound division was lost during the class restructuring.

“Last year I wasn’t able to go up against him because he had gone down a weight and he had beaten me two times,” Ramirez said. “I wanted to prove my point that I could beat him.

In the second-to-last match, Millikan’s Tannor Costello was business as usual as he picked up the Rams’ sixth crown after pinning Lakewood’s Brandon Kim.

“Watching wrestling keeps me pumped up,” Costello said. “Next goal is to make it to state, this is small but next is a big jump.”

In the final match of the night Poly’s Tyler Gaines was able to get a weight lifted off his shoulders after not being able to compete last season.

So, when he pinned Lakewood’s Brendon Raygoza he couldn’t contain his excitement after becoming a Moore League Champion.

“Last year I had rugby and a skin infection and just sickness,” Gaines said. “But this year I got the chance to and it’s pretty awesome.”

Gaines also gave some insight on what kept him locked in leading up to his match and he points to his music playlist.

“I have a playlist with a whole bunch of Bible music,” Gaines said. “There’s this dude named Eluzai and he made this song called fear no evil and I’ve been listening to that all day. It really hyped me up.”

The Moore League wrestling season has concluded, but the top four finishers from each division will advance to compete at the CIF individuals when they take place at Great Oak High School near Temecula on February 9-10.


106: Poly’s Knox Espinoza wins by pin vs Lakewood’s Robert Carbajal

113: Wilson’s Jacob Jenner wins by pin vs Millikan’s Chase Antrobious

120: Poly’s Eduardo Sandoval wins by major decision vs Millikan’s Aaron Mata

126: Poly’s Nathan Itchon wins by pin vs Wilson’s Ryan Perry

132: Millikan’s Daniel Kroll wins by 6-5 decision vs Poly’s Rocky Lo

138: Poly’s Jayden Ekong wins by decision vs Millikan’s Isaiah Rivera

144: Wilson’s Anthony Vera wins by 10-3 decision vs Poly’s Alek Carrera

150: Millikan’s Chris Anguiano wins by pin vs Lakewood’s Daniel Quezada

157: Millikan’s Travis Costello wins by 15-4 major decision vs Lakewood’s Andrew Hollenback

165: Millikan’s Trey Culwell wins by pin vs Poly’s Alberto Olague

175: Millikan’s Ryan Kaven wins by pin Poly’s Jose Palomera

190: Lakewood’s Nelson Ramirez wins by pin vs Poly’s Eduardo Reyes

215: Millikan’s Tannor Costello wins by pin vs Lakewood’s Brandon Kim

285: Poly’s Tyler Gaines wins by pin vs Lakewood’s Brendon Raygoza

PHOTOS: Moore League Wrestling Finals
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Matt Simon
Matt Simon has been covering sports since 2013. After graduating from Long Beach State, he has covered sports for multiple publications throughout Southern California.