The Hilmar High wrestling team came two points shy of clinching a playoff spot after falling to the visiting Trans Valley League rivals, the Hughson Huskies in a home dual meet.
With the final two matches left, the Yellowjackets found themselves up by double digits with a 36-26 score, but a Jorge Barajas pin over Hilmar’s Bobby Hughes at the 220-pound class followed by a forfeit win at the 285-pound class was enough as the Huskies escaped with a 38-36 win.
“To actually think we had a chance at the playoffs with that young experience is crazy. I think we’re going in the right direction but we just haven’t gotten there yet. We had our faith in our hands, we just couldn’t pull the trigger,” Hilmar head coach Bruce Scott said. “It was more of an experienced match today, we had guys that got pinned and others didn’t, so the bonus points is really what we lost by.”
It wasn’t the best of day for the ‘Jackets who managed to pull away with six wins, five of which came by way of forfeit.
With only two upperclassmen, the ‘Jackets found themselves up against the wall against a smaller yet more experienced Huskies squad.
The only match win for Hilmar came from Elijah Moon who pinned Nick Hamilton at the 160-pound class.
“My senior kids did well but unfortunately some had a bye and that is not good because they feed off those kids and can get a little pumped, but we only had one wrestle today,” Scott said.
A score of 24-26 with only four matches’ to-go gave them life, but they only escaped with back-to-back forfeit wins before losing the final two matches and the opportunity for the second place position.
“It was a little disheartening because we had a few guys get pinned and that was an issue and they are younger kids and trying their best with the exception of two kids, all the others it’s their first year with me,” Scott said.
After the win, the ‘Jackets are tied with Hughson for second, however the Huskies hold the tiebreaker while Ripon sits comfortably in first.
Although out of the postseason, the ‘Jackets will look to gain that valuable experience for next year at the Trans Valley League tournament which is set for Feb. 15 with a time and place yet to be announced.
“The kids tried their best it just wasn’t quite well tonight. We just go back to the drawing board and have a good practice tomorrow and where the kids need to be, I told the seniors that they never get to do this again,” Scott said. “I told the kids I appreciated their effort and if I had to assume where we would be by the end of the year when the year started, I wouldn’t have guessed we would be where we are.”