Wednesday night marked a historical and one of the more strange endings in Turlock and Pitman High wrestling dual history.
Both sides came in at 3-1, tied for second in duals in the Central California Conference. The highly anticipated cross town match grew even stronger as the day approached but there is no question that neither team, coach or spectator expected to see the match end the way it did.
Turlock went up early with two wins via pin, taking an early 12-0 lead in the dual, but before the Bulldogs knew it, Pitman had fought back with Turlock and matched them, eventually setting up an intriguing match at the 197 class that would begin a series of unexpected events.
Pitman's Jesus Padilla (197) would win the first of two matches that would end via stall-outs, something that rarely happens in even a single match, let alone two, and the Pride took a 29-27 lead with two matches to-go. Stalling is when a contestant does not make an honest attempt to stay in the 10-foot circle and wrestle aggressively. A warning is given for the first offense, after which penalties are enforced.
Breck Jeffus (220) of Turlock would dominate on the ensuing match over Pitman's Anthony Carbajol and eventually the ref called it a stall-out victory for Jeffus, setting up a 33-28 lead for Turlock after Pitman head coach Adam Vasconcellos was hit with a point deduction for sharing some words.
Neither team was very satisfied at this point, not even winning head coach Anthony Gonzalez, but Mike Jeffus (285) would win the final match after Julian Barrera was injured for Pitman, essentially ending the night with a 39-28 victory for Turlock.
“Turlock wrestled well, their guys came out and wrestled well; Anthony had his boys ready for sure,” said Vasconcellos. “I know our guys were ready but I don't know, I never witnessed anything like what we saw before... everything about it. Me and Anthony both had never been a part of something so strange.”
“It was good wrestling all around, just excessive tonight. I think both sides can agree, on some questionable calls,” said Gonzalez. “I don't think I’ve been part of a dual where there was that many points awarded for stalling, so I hate to see that from what we did but we just have to keep going no matter what.”
Turlock improves to a 4-1 league dual record, placing second behind Buhach Colony, while Pitman drops to 3-2 in league duals this year, having lost in back to back duals.
The Bulldogs notched eight victories while Pitman held their own with six match wins.
After Turlock won their opening matches via pin, Pitman fought back to win their next two to make it 12-8. Tondrick Pope (132) was defeated by Brady Egleston of Turlock after a 4-0 decision to make it 15-8.
Then Isaiah Perez (138) and Arthur Clemons (144) clinched wins for Pitman, securing a 20-15 lead.
The difference maker for Turlock, despite the questionable officiating, came when Andy Orozco (150) pulled out the upset win via pin over Pitman's Colby Lankford, with one minute remaining in the third, to give Turlock the 21-20 edge at that point.
“Getting the pin over Colby (Lankford) was huge for us, Andy did great,” said Gonzalez. “We had it to a win but I don't think anybody on either side expected that to end with a pin, those three extra points made a big difference.”
Turlock was up a point, before Pitman followed the match with a win to take the lead back at 23-21. From this point on the numbers shifted back and forth, as Turlock's Uriel Villasenor (172) won his match 6-4 to go up 24-23.
The last three matches were a blur of upset spectators, coaches and student-athletes who were wondering and sharing the point system with the ref, who, never seemed to lose his cool, except when he deducted Pitman's Vasconcellos of a point.
He warned Turlock's side, but it looked as though it was just not his night as well.
“Overall the guys came out and we were preparing since last week for this, well... every year since it’s a cross town rival but especially the way they came out,” said Gonzalez.
“We keep dropping guys, down six starters now,” Vasconcellos added. “So we are down but this was good for wrestling since we had a big crowd and it’s a good atmosphere, and wrestling is strong in our town and everyone likes it.”
The CCC tournament will take place at Atwater High at 9 a.m. Thursday.
“I guess we will see how we do at the CCC tournament,” Gonzalez added. “I think we are a good tournament team as we are a dual team but I guess we will find out when we get there.”