Pitman High and Golden Valley High waged a neck-and-neck race for last year’s Central California Conference wrestling championship that saw the Pride edge out the Cougars to claim their first CCC title in program history.
As the two schools did last year, Pitman and Golden Valley kicked off league competition in 2015 with a dual on Wednesday. Unlike last year’s matchup, however — which was decided by a single point — Pitman routed Golden Valley, 35-24.
“The boys wrestled awesome. We asked some of our kids to step up for us. We wrestled four kids out of their weight class and we won every single close match,” Pitman head coach Adam Vasconcellos said. “Our kids were ready to go; they were fired up.”
Quentin Hernandez, Haydon Mattox, Christian Clementi and Gabriel Volasco were the four Pride wrestlers forced to compete at higher weight classes, a move that was spurred by the absence of Adam and Angel Velasquez, recent transfers who are unable to compete for Pitman as their eligibility is currently pending review.
Hernandez moved from 152 pounds to 160 pounds, Mattox moved from 160 pounds to 170 pounds, Clementi moved from 170 pounds to 182 pounds and Volasco moved from 182 pounds to 195 pounds. All four won their matches, though Mattox and Clementi and Volasco’s wins proved to be pivotal for the Pride.
“We had our entire team shifted up, which can be a scary thing sometimes,” Vasconcellos said. “They all came through.”
Mattox wrestled the third match of the night and led 1-0 after the second period. With 40 seconds left in the match, his Cougar opponent hit a reversal to take the lead and send his team into a roar of cheers. The match seemed to be over, but the Pitman senior managed to pull of the improbable when he executed a granby roll for the reversal with only three second left on the clock to earn the 3-2 victory and silence the Golden Valley crowd.
“We were counting on Hayden to win for us. The match was a lot closer than we wanted to be, but when you’re giving up 15 pounds or so it’s going to even things out a little bit,” Vasconcellos said.
The dramatic win was followed by Clementi who added to the drama with a 3-2 win of his home against a seasoned Cougar wrestler who held the advantage in size.
“We bumped him up to 182’s and the wrestler from Golden Valley is a very good wrestle,” Vasconcellos said. “That was a swing match for us.”
The drama continued with the fifth match of the night that saw Volasco enter sudden death and escape with a win thanks to a takedown with five seconds left on the clock. After five matches, the team score read 17-0.
By the end of the night, the Cougars managed only four wins — two via pin and two via forfeit— while Pitman earned ten wins — seven via decision, two via major decision and one via forfeit. The win was undoubtedly a tone-setting victory for the Pride who are on the hunt for their second CCC title this year.
“Our kids are hungry. They’ve worked hard and we have a lot of kids who have put in a lot of time,” Vasconcellos said. “They have a different attitude this year.”
Pitman continues its campaign on the mat on Wednesday with another home dual as its boys are slated to host Merced High.