Wrestling: Southridge's Del-Angel has been a pinning machine this season

January 16, 2013 

Kevin Del-Angel is such a quick pinner that he once beat a kid before the pre-match handshake.

Such a quick pinner that referees often start the match lying on the mat, so as to not waste time.

So quick that Chuck Norris once refused to step on the mat with him.

OK, so that may not be entirely accurate. But when it comes to ending wrestling matches, this much is true: No one does it quicker than the 195-pound Southridge senior with a wicked chin whip and a mean half nelson.

“I don’t really think about scoring as many points as I can,” Del-Angel said. “I think about what I have to do to get a pin.”

Boy howdy.

His most recent exploit, winning the Willie C. Stewart Invitational in Tacoma, was a snapshot of his season: three matches, three pins and just 72 seconds of total mat time. His first match ended in eight seconds — eight seconds!

“It could have ended faster than that,” said Suns assistant coach Steven Isley. “If the referee had been in position, it would have been three seconds. Serious.” The legend grows.

Del-Angel has been a terror this year. He is 28-1 with 27 pins, and coach John Hogg is pretty sure only two of those pins have gone past the first period. Even his loss was quick, getting caught in a cradle by University’s Tanner Orndorff a minute into the championship match at the Pacific Northwest Classic in Spokane (Del-Angel looks forward to the rematch at sub-regionals and regionals).

The one win that went the distance was an 11-9 victory over Sisto Santana Pina, Kamiakin’s returning state champ.

And perhaps it is that win, over a wrestler that dominated the action in their 14-4 regional championship match at 170 pounds last year, that shows the evolution of Del-Angel.

“He really is a well-rounded wrestler,” Hogg said. “He’s got it all, from on his feet to on the mat. A lot of people think, ‘If I stay away from the chin whip, I’ll be fine.’ ”

Indeed, that chin whip — a front headlock, a trip back to the mat and then squeeze — is the kiss of death against Del-Angel. But the knock on him last season was that if you could stay out of the whip, you had a good shot.

Not so this year.

The same quickness that made him a tough pass rusher at defensive end in football makes him a pretty tough shooter.

“He’s such a disruptive guy,” said Suns football coach Tony Rieboldt. “He’s a big reason why we were the No. 1 defense in the league this year. His get-off is so explosive, and he’s so hard to block.”

He’s strong as a bull, which is why Del-Angel doesn’t so much as leverage you over with the half nelson but push you into the next county.

“He’s just overpowering,” Hogg said. “He seems so in control. He just takes care of business.”

It’s a far sight from the kid who went 18-14 in the regular season as a sophomore, then knocked off a No. 2 and 3 seed to reach the district final (16-1 loss to Pina), then pinned the No. 2 seed from Spokane at regionals to finish third and qualify for state.

“It was very emotional. I was so excited,” said Del-Angel, who grew up watching older brother Andrew wrestle for Kamiakin and was drawn to the mat as a fourth grader.

The third of four kids born to Balentine and Beverly Del-Angel, Kevin isn’t the only talented wrestler in the family. His cousin, Cruz Del Angel (no hyphen) was an undefeated state champion for Kiona-Benton in Class 1A last season and is working on a repeat performance this year.

Kevin said the two are friends but grew up in different wrestling rooms.

It was after his “out of nowhere” sophomore season that Del-Angel started wrestling freestyle and Greco-Roman in the offseason. Two years later, he is working on one of the most dominating seasons ever seen in the Tri-Cities.

He has hopes of continuing his athletic career in college, with football or wrestling. But that is way down the road compared to his final high school postseason, which starts in just over two weeks.

After placing sixth in Class 3A last season and running roughshod over the competition this year, there is only one finish Del-Angel has in mind.

“I’m going for (a) state (title),” he said. “Anything less is not good.”

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