Walking up to interview Noah Rupp after his biggest wrestling meet yet, there was only one stipulation.
And it was not what you might expect.
“Anyone who wants to speak with Noah,’’ Maranatha Christian coach John Rupp, smiling beaming at the same time, “has to speak with the entire team.’’
The catch is Noah Rupp is the entire Eagles team.
The one-man wrestling team became the first Eagle to reach the championship match of the Masters Meet last weekend at San Marcos High.
The 6-foot-1 grappler may have dropped a 9-1 decision to Poway senior Ivan Hernandez at 172 pounds in the finals, but he also became the first Eagle to qualify for the State Championships.
The moment was not lost on Noah.
“I train with three amazing coaches,’’ the junior said. “All along, I thought I could do this.
“I’d never faced Hernandez, but I expected a battle from a Poway guy.’’
Poway, as usual, leads the San Diego contingent with 13 wrestlers competing in the three-day State Championships at Rabobank Arena in Bakersfield, starting on Thursday.
Ten Titans reached the Masters Meet finals with sophomore Andre Gonzalez (108), freshman Brock Bobzien (115), senior Carson Sauriol (122), junior Jason Miranda (128), junior Aaron Gandara (154), junior Alexander Hernandez (162), senior Ivan Hernandez (172) and junior and two-time All-American Andrew Johnson (287) capturing titles.
Rancho Bernardo will send seven wrestlers - junior Jaden Le (140), senior Jaden Abas (147) and sophomore Javen Jovero (184) captured championships -- while Maranatha is sending just Rupp.
Another first accomplishment involving Rupp is he won’t have to pay and sit in the stands for the state tournament like he has for the last two years.
“I always have a general plan before a match,’’ said Rupp, who is 33-9 this year. “You never know what will happen in a match. I didn’t care who I was facing. I thought I could do this.
“Going to state is a big deal. There will a whole different level of wrestlers at state. No chumps wrestle at state.’’
Gandara won a state title last year while he was at Yuma Cibola in Arizona.
His 7-5 win in overtime against Rancho Bernardo’s Tyler Badgett was the most closely contested match at the Masters finals.
“The crowds will be bigger and there will be some serious guys there,’’ Gandara said. “I’m getting close to everything I wanted when I came to Poway this year. A state title would look really good.’’
Rancho Bernardo senior Jaden Abas is heading back to the state tournament at 145. Abas won the state title at 138 last year.
Now 29-1, Abas won another Masters Meet with a 15-5 win in the finals after pinning three opponents along the way.
Le’s record is 33-9 while Jovero is 34-8.
“I don’t know about anyone else, but I haven’t thought much about the state tournament yet,’’ Rupp said. “I’m really excited for what’s coming, but I don’t want all the focus to be on me.
“It should be like the Masters Meet except a lot harder. I want to win the state.’’
Also qualifying for the state tournament are Zane Stoddard (134), Noah Tolentino (140), Christian Morales (147), Braden Pease (184) and Laith Gilmore (197) from Poway as well as Gavin Concepcion (115), Badgett (154) and Zachary Zidarevich (172).
“I was happy with the way we wrestled,’’ first-year Poway head coach John Meyers. “We were aggressive. I don’t remember us hanging on to any leads.
“I’ve been this far a number of times as an assistant, but this was definitely more stressful for me to get us this far.’’
Now it’s all on the line in Bakersfield.by Terry Monahan