Lorenzo Lewis had a feeling everything would be riding on his match. The Pitman High sophomore was up to the challenge.
Lewis defeated Golden Valley’s Jacob Perry 5-2 in their 133-pound match on Wednesday night to lift the Pitman wrestling team to a thrilling 29-28 win in the Central California Conference opener for both teams at Cougar Arena.
“I’ve been there before,” Lewis said. “I wasn’t worried at all. I knew what I had to. I wasn’t going to let the crowd or anybody intimidate me.”
Lewis’ win helped the Pride (7-0) overcome a late Golden Valley rally that saw the Cougars erase a 26-13 deficit with three straight wins by Criselio Rivera (107 pounds), Tanner Browning (114) and Brady Mello (121). Browning and Mello both picked up pins that brought the Cougars crowd to its feet as GV led for the first time in the match at 28-26.
That set the stage for Lewis and Perry.
“Part of me was nervous for Lorenzo because he’s only a sophomore,” said Pitman coach Adam Vasconcellos. “But he was also the guy who finished the strongest for us at the end of last year. He finished eighth for us at Masters. If it’s going to come down to one match, all you can ask is to have one of your best wrestlers out there.”
Perry and Lewis battled to a scoreless draw in the first round.
With the GV crowd chanting “Jacob,” Lewis scored on an escape early in the second round and later built a 3-0 lead with a takedown.
Perry battled back in the third to cut the lead to 3-2 with an escape and a stall called on Lewis. Perry looked to be in position for a takedown when he tossed Lewis to the mat with 10 seconds left, but Perry was unable to get control before Lewis got back to his feet.
Lewis put the match away with a late takedown that brought his teammates to their feet.
“I had to come through for my team and get the victory,” Lewis said.
With one point separating the two teams there were key matches throughout the dual, but both coaches pointed to the first match of the night as the most important.
Pitman’s Haydon Mattox was able to lock a cradle on Joey Terry and earn a pin 3 minutes and 10 seconds into their match. The win earned the Pride six points and helped Pitman jump out to a 10-0 lead after the first two matches.
“If those guys wrestle nine or 10 more times I don’t think you’d see a pin,” Vasconcellos said. “We didn’t expect that. That was a huge deal.”
Golden Valley coach Chopper Mello expected to be even after the first two matches.
“That killed us,” he said. “Joey is a better wrestler than that. He just got caught. We tell our guys there are three types of wrestlers that can pin you. Leggers, cradlers and throwers. We teach our guys that. He got caught in a cradle. If they wrestle 100 times again it doesn’t happen. It’s part of sports and Joey will learn from it.”
The Pride earned big bonus points along the way with a major decision win by Nick Valadez (139) and technical falls by Cristian Clemeti (161) and Logan Wolfley (171).
“We had to scratch and claw for every point because we knew Chopper would have his guys ready,” Vasconcellos said. “He runs such a disciplined program.”
Golden Valley fought back with strong performances from their lightweights, but fell short.
“Our kids battled all the way back down from the 10-point hole early,” Mello said. “I’m proud of that. We don’t like to lose, but I’m proud of our guys. I thought if we could hold them under 30 points we would win. That’s two teams holding each other under 30 points. That’s pretty good.”
Sun-Star staff writer Shawn Jansen can be reached at (209) 385-2462 or firstname.lastname@example.org.