Two teams, Yosemite (1-2 NSL) and Liberty (1-2), both short of wrestlers and filling weight classes with underclassman met Jan. 22 at Yosemite.
Yosemite was behind 18-0 before anyone stepped foot on the mat due to seven weight class forfeits, five by Yosemite, and two by Liberty. An additional two matches had double forfeits, leaving just five matches for the night.
Once the actual wrestling got underway, Yosemite quickly went to work with three straight pins, tying the score at 18-18. The three pins combined, took a total of seven minutes and 38 seconds.
The first one came from in the 138-pound match with Yosemite senior Quinn Hilliard pinning his Liberty opponent 1:31 into the second period.
It was then team member Jessie De La Cruz, a freshman, pinning his 145-pound opponent with just seven second left in the first period.
The Yosemite trifecta came in the 152-pound match with senior Matt Springer getting the fall with nine seconds to go in the second period, pinning his freshman opponent.
The only Yosemite defeat of the evening came in the 170-pound match, as sophomore Rocky Lapham was pinned in the second period. That gave Liberty a 24-18 lead with one contest left in the abbreviated match.
Yosemite would need a pin from freshman Peter Martinez to tie the match. It didn’t take long for Martinez to please the small, but loud home crowd, as the 182-pounder pinned his Liberty opponent, also a freshman, just 28 seconds into the first period.
With the score tied at 36-36, referee Marcelino Maytorena pulled out his rule book. He read through four criteria to break a tie before coming to No. 5. The team that has accumulated the greater number of falls (pins) wins - Yosemite’s four falls versus Liberty’s one, gave one point, and the match to the Badgers, 37-36.
Both teams were relying on underclassman due to the lack of team members and the loss of some to injuries. Both coaches, Yosemite’s Kent Lincoln, and Liberty’s Jason Napier, were pleased with the performance of their young team members. Yosemite’s varsity was made up of two freshman and a sophomore, while Liberty placed four freshman and a sophomore on the mat.
“We have an extremely young team,” Napier said. “Out of 16 team members, nine are freshman, and four are sophomores. The future of wrestling at Liberty looks good.”
Liberty was without the services of the No. 1 ranked 195-pound wrestler in California. Senior Richie Brandt placed second at state last year and was undefeated this season before he suffered a broken ankle at the recent Doc Buchanan Wrestling Tournament in Fresno. Brandt was a running back on Liberty’s football team that won its third straight Central Section Championship this past season. He ran for 850+ yards and 13 touchdowns on the season.
“Tonight shows the hard work and effort these wrestlers are putting in at practices,” Lincoln said. “They deserve the rewards of their hard work. Tonight was a good night. We could be league champs if we had just three more wrestlers on our team.”
Lincoln also said one of his assistant coaches, his son Kyle, a Yosemite 2012 graduate who went to the state meet his senior year, has instituted great drilling situations in the wrestling room that have contributed greatly to team member’s skills.
Yosemite participated in the Jan. 24 True Wrestling Invitational at Visalia’s Mission Oak High School.
Two Badgers, 182-pound Peter Martinez, and 140-pound Quinn Hilliard, placed 5th out of a field of 16 in their weight divisions.
The team is at Chowchilla today (Thursday) for a league match, and hosts Sierra at 5 p.m., Feb. 5.