The Pitman High wrestling team looked to make a statement at the Division I CIF Sac-Joaquin Team Section Dual Tournament Saturday, but unfortunately fell in the semi-final match to eventual winners — Folsom High — 27-32.
Already marked down as one of the most successful seasons to-date for the Pitman Pride varsity wrestling team, they looked to cement their case with a victory at Lincoln High this past weekend without the likes of state qualifiers, Nick Valadez, Haydon Mattox and Gabriel Volasco.
“Yeah so far this has been the best year in school history,” Pitman head coach Adam Vasconcellos said. “Without some of our top wrestlers it was tough to still compete and I wonder how different the outcome could've been with them in the lineup. It’s always a privilege to be here though.”
In the first round, the Pride rolled over Gregori 63-12 to then set themselves up for what the team and coach Vasconcellos hoped would be the championship match against a top 10 team like Folsom, but it was the match before the grand finale — the semi.
“We wanted to get a seed to not face Folsom because I was very confident and knew that we were the best two teams in the tournament and we wanted to meet in the final,” Vasconcellos said. “Our final score was closer than the actual finale if that says anything, but it was an honor to compete here with our guys.”
In the final, Folsom dominated Elk Grove 37-15.
Against Gregori the Pride won 12 of the 14 matches and lost two, which one was by a forfeit.
Without Valadez, Mattox and Volasco, head coach Vasconcellos was forced to move younger guys to fill these spots from the Junior Varsity level and it paid dividends despite losing in the semi-final.
“It hurt that they didn't wrestle,” Vasconcellos said about his state qualifiers. “Our back-ups are not state qualifiers and they did well, but they are not Nick, Haydon and Gabe.”
In the match against Folsom, the Pride were within three points away from tying the score on multiple occasions and near the end of the night one match made all the difference.
The match was at the 106-pound weight class as Trevor Mattox needed a pin for the Pride to take the lead and set themselves up for a victory with the final two matches in their favor — both of which they eventually won.
With less than 30 seconds left in the match, Mattox was able to take down his opponent but the pin was never called, even after Mattox had him pinned down for over 20 seconds.
“It was so close,” Vasconcellos said about the match. “If the ref would have called the pin, which he should have, then we win by five or six points and we go up and really that was the difference maker. Little things change matches because the prior ref to this match called pins with ease.”
“There were matches left and we needed Lorenzo Lewis to get the pin but he wrestled a top 10 guy in state,” said Vasconcellos. “Chances were not good and he ends up beating him, who is ranked higher, but too much to ask to pin one of the best in California [Carlos Alvarez].”
This proved to be one of the most entertaining matches as Lewis (140) defeated Alvarez, 6-4.
The replacement for Valadez, Christian Perez (147) won his match as well.
“We knew that if that 106-match was ours, well then the final match would have been decided with Christian. It would’ve been a great way to finish as a fill in,” Vasconcellos added.
“We came to battle and everyone in the gym loved every match and our guys earned that opportunity and we were right there to win it and it’s bittersweet that we battled like we did but being so close and not getting it, it hurts.”
Pitman's next stop will be at the Central California Conference Championships in Atwater High at a time yet to be announced on Thursday.
The top four guys in each weight class move on to Divisionals.