Calabasas grapplers enjoy a banner year in Marmonte
By Kyle Jorrey
|MEN ON THE MAT-Above, Calabasas co-captain Cameron Teitelman goes for
a pin against teammate Garo Kharmandalian during practice Tuesday. Below, head coach Andy Falk awards a point for a takedown.
After a few years of adjusting to life in the Marmonte League, CHS is having an up year.|
A little over four years ago, when the California Interscholastic Federation decided that Calabasas High School and its
growing enrollment ought to make the jump from the Frontier League to the Marmonte League, few of the schools’ athletic
programs felt the impact greater than the wrestlers.
After all, just when the Coyotes were getting comfortable in their role as the dominate team in the Frontier League, CIF
officials decided to set the bar a little higher. In a single season, the team went from league champion to having to struggle
just to get a win.
"We went from being the big fish in a little pond to being a tiny fish in a big pond," head coach Andy Falk said. "We basically
had to start building all over again."
Fast forward to the present and CHS is starting to look more and more like a big fish again.
Led by a solid core of seniors determined to set new precedence, Calabasas (28-6, 5-1 in league) has catapulted itself
to second in the Marmonte League behind powerhouse Royal, and for the first time in its recent history seems destined for
advancement to CIF team duals.
Today, the Coyotes look to take down rival Agoura in a league dual for the first time in program history. Last year the
annual event came down to a single match, with Agoura coming out on top by a mere three points.
"Last year we thought we had them but we came up short. It was unbelievable," said Yevgeniy Pinchuk, a senior who wrestles
at 215. "So this year it’s so big to us. This is a team we’ve always wanted to beat because we have a lot of respect
for them and their coach ... This is one we’ve been talking about since the end of last season."
When Falk first arrived at CHS 10 years ago to coach, it was Agoura head coach Dennis Ritterbush who helped him get his
feet wet and make a successful transition from gifted athlete to gifted coach.
"He helped me out a lot my first couple years in wrestling," Falk said of Ritterbush. "Coaching was a completely different
world to me and Dennis really walked me through a lot of stuff . . . He’s a great coach and always willing to lend his
The favorite to win today’s dual, Calabasas already defeated the Chargers at a tournament earlier in the season.
As has been the case all year long, CHS will be led by its talented group of six, a group that’s become almost automatic
points in league.
They are: junior Cameron Teitelman (125) and seniors Ivan Pinchuk (171), Mark Durant (189), Yevgeniy Pinchuk (215) and
heavyweight Joey Hauss.
"These guys are almost guaranteed wins every match," Falk said. "We’ve won half of our matches because of them."
The Pinchuk brothers, originally from Russia, are a perfect example of what can be the beneficial nature of a sibling rivalry.
Constantly working to outdo one another on the mat, the brothers—one 16, one 17, but both seniors—have found individual
success. This year they have a combined record of 67-5.
"We’re always wrestling each other, whether it’s at home or at practice, we’re always working on new
moves," Yevgeniy said. "We always compete, and we always cheer for each other to succeed."
Falk has seen his entire team benefit from the brothers’ bond, and their commitment to the sport.
"When Ivan won best wrestler at the West Covina tournament, Yevgeniy was beside himself," Falk said.
At the heavyweight division, Hauss has emerged as another contender to advance far after taking down Moorpark’s big
man Josh Sanchez in what was most likely the team’s biggest individual win of the season. Wrestling in front of his
home crowd, Hauss won in dramatic fasion, 3-2, and avenged an early season loss to Sanchez in which he was pinned in just
"Joey beat him and this place just went wild—it was electric," Falk said. "It was his claim-to-fame and a big moment
for this team."
At 125 is the team’s two-year co-captain, Teitelman, a gifted student and actor—last year he performed in a
nation-wide tour of Les Miserables—who has committed himself completely to the sport. A technician in the ring, Teitelman
has accumulated a 34-5 record and is another favorite to contend for an individual title.
"He’s got moves coming out his ears," Falk said.
Teitelman said this year’s results come as no surprise to a team that has given up much blood, sweat and tears to
get to this point.
"It’s an awesome feeling, but it’s also satisfying because we worked so hard to get it," Teitelman said. "(Four)
years ago when we made the jump to Marmonte it was crazy, it seemed so hard. No one expected us to rise out of that. So to
see that’s we’ve already risen to second place is amazing."
With the league meet coming up this Saturday and the CIF Divisional Meet two weeks after that, the Coyotes have their sights
set on advancing a number of individuals past divisionals and into Masters, an achievement not even one Calabasas has accomplished
"We’ve never had one wrestler make it and this year we might have six people go," Teitelman said. "That’s what
we’re after, getting to Masters. Then we’ll worry about state."
To do so, each wrestler must finish in the top three at the league meet and then finish in the top three at divisionals.
According to Falk, the numbers are adding up right for Calabasas.
"It’s an absolutely real possibility," the head coach said. "I’ve done the math and looked at how we’ve
performed against other state qualifiers, and I feel we have a good chance."
But for now, the Coyotes sights are set on their showdown today with Agoura, a duel that kicks off at 5:30 p.m. at Calabasas
and should prove to be another great matchup of the area’s best.
The long-haired Falk, as is his tradition, has added some extra incentive to match.
"I told the kids if we beat Agoura I’d shave my head," Falk said.
Better have those clippers kept near.