Pat O’Hare started wrestling in the summer of 1957 at Mira Costa High School. It was a before school started that year, it was a recruitment time for the following season. By the time the three week session was over…..he was hooked.
During his junior year, his first year as a wrestler, O’Hare lettered in J.V. winning the novice tournament at Englewood High at ninety-five pounds. Pat’s small stature was probably the reason he never thought of wrestling before then. He only weighed seventy-five lbs his freshmen year. Later in the season O’Hare broke his arm during an inner team tournament against a wrestler named Tom Brooks in a team takedown tournament. Tommy and the team went on to take state that year but O’Hare went home to nurse a compound fracture of his left arm.
His senior year (1959) O’Hare was a varsity wrestler at a hundred-and five pounds and he earned the nick named “Spider” because of his hairy legs and lankiness. That year “Spider” O’Hare went undefeated in division and league and won two tournaments before state and was C.I.F. champion at his 105 weight class. He and his team went to state where they were the only school besides San Diego High that qualified the whole team. They took state that year with six or more state champions but “Spider” O’Hare wasn't one of them. He had to wrestle up at one hundred and twenty three pounds, something pretty much above his 105 lb. He took Tom Bean’s Place at 123 lbs and his job according to Coach Fernandez was at the very least NOT to get pinned. Fernandez, who was a great coach and also a great wrestler in his own right, was afraid Tom Bean didn’t have the heart for it, though this was his weight class.
O’Hare had asked to wrestle off for the spot with Sammy DeGrace which was his right since he was the 105 lb wrestler all year. Sammy had weighed in at 105 all year to keep his eligibility though he wrestled 115 lbs but Fernadez wouldn’t hear of it. He was fearful one of them would get hurt in a wrestle off. O’Hare did his job and DIDN’T get pinned, thus helping the team to another state trophy.
The next year O’Hare went on to El Camino Junior College where he wrestled with Dewey Weber. Dewey had come back to El Camino having still a year of eligibility and he and O’Hare had classes and wrestled together under coach Hanksellar. Even though “Spider” O’Hare was a promising wrestler and was thought to have been able to beat his state rivalry, Hanksellar didn’t like surfers too much and in particular he didn’t like O’Hare too much.
The feeling was mutual and soon O’Hare left to train at a gym in L.A. under the guidance of Coach Fernandez. Soon after that, Fernandez would get “Spider” O’Hare an invitation to an Olympic try-out in Southern California at the Long Beach Naval Base.
O’Hare had never seen anything like those try-outs. It was the most wrestlers he had ever seen in one place. His first match pitted him against an air force cadet who narrowly beat O’Hare because he was better conditioned. O’Hare felt he hadn’t pushed himself enough but his next match against Cisco Andratie would prove he had what it took and make up for the loss.
Andratie, who was 4 time high school state champion and eventually won the Pan-Am Games, was his opponent and O’Hare’s former coach Hanksellar was a mat judge. The match was tough but in the end Andratie raised his hand and acknowledged the pin……O’Hare had won the match.
Mira Costa High School - 1958/59
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