Spartans Happy To Be Back On the Mat

Photo courtesy Justin Luthey
Cameron Fernando was one of three Spartans to record a victory over San Clemente in an outdoor dual meet last week.

As a former athlete and the current La Cañada High School wrestling coach, Justin Luthey has seen and experienced just about everything in the sport except what took place at San Clemente High School last week.
The Spartans traveled to take on the Tritons in a dual meet, but it wasn’t inside a gymnasium. San Clemente set up mats outside with canopies over them to provide shade for the wrestlers. It wasn’t the most ideal setting for a season opener, but it’s one that Luthey will gladly take after a year of schools and athletics being shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
La Cañada won in three weight categories but lost the match, 53-12. However, the result didn’t seem to bother Luthey or his athletes.
“I don’t think any of the kids on the team even know what the team score was,” he said. “It is so insignificant. We got our tails kicked because they’re a really good team. We knew what we were getting ourselves into.
“But it was all smiles on the way there and coming back. I’ve been dreaming this for so long, to just get our seniors on the mat one more time.”
Luthey was always optimistic of a season, even when his wrestlers lost faith.
“People who were pessimistic [during the pandemic] have been right for so long, but I feel somewhat vindicated now,” he said. “You have to take the small wins. That’s all you can do in a tough time.”
La Cañada’s Ken Kim, who qualified for the CIF Masters Meet last year, pinned Fernando Llanos in the 220-pound bout, and teammate Cameron Fernando defeated Tyler Jones, 16-9, in the 120-pound match. Cage Schmidt, a first-year varsity wrestler, scored all of his points in the first period and held on for a 7-2 victory over Santino Nonaca.
LCHS is planning more wrestling matches and the Spartan coach hopes other programs will do the same.
“The future is really uncertain moving forward,” Luthey said. “We don’t know if our league is going to have meets and we don’t know about a postseason. We don’t know if we’re even going to have another match. What we do know is that we do it. Part of what I was hoping this meet could accomplish is that it shows others that you can do this.”