Every wrestling dual match has those two or three matches that get the wrestlers up off the bench, with intense voices filling the gym.
During Los Banos High’s 46-24 victory over Ceres on Wednesday, LB’s 138-pounder Fernandez “Ferb” Mendoza and Ceres’ Daniel Raya provided one of those matches in a triple-overtime, 10-9 Mendoza victory.
Mendoza had the match in hand, leading 9-3 after a takedown early in the third period, but Raya escaped for a point, earned a 2-point takedown of his own, then forced Mendoza nearly onto his shoulders for a 3-point near-fall to force the tie at the end of the third period.
“It wasn’t really my match, I guess you could say,” Mendoza said.
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Neither wrestler scored in the first one-minute, sudden-death overtime period, forcing two 30-second periods where one wrestler starts on top. Mendoza started on top in first period and held on to prevent an escape.
“I was just thinking, I have to not get taken down, basically,” Mendoza said. “I was just hoping to keep him down in the first 30 seconds that they gave us, and the second 30 seconds, just get out and stay up.”
Raya gambled in the second period, letting Mendoza up for a 1-point escape and betting he could get the 2-point takedown for the win. Mendoza knew right away the match was his, and he prevented Raya from taking him down.
Mendoza, who said he felt he should have defeated Raya in regulation, got pinned in LB’s 39-37 loss to Patterson on Jan. 2.
“He got caught against Patterson, same thing,” Los Banos coach Josh Adams said. “He’s a junior and he has plenty of experience, but made a couple of critical errors. He’s always in position, he’s always a strong kid, you know. I want to say he’s really reliable, but he’s had a rough week or so.
“...You look at that match, you break it down, and any one of those matches goes different and we’re fine. But props to them, they wrestled well, and they did what they needed to do.”
LB heavyweight Evan Duran’s match against Ceres’ Jose Avila also went to overtime after Avila gave up a point for an illegal hold in the third period. The two exhausted heavyweights went after each other with all the energy they could muster in the sudden-death overtime period, and Duran came out on top to win 5-3.
Other wins for LB included 120-pounder John Solo (by pin), 126-pounder Tyler Felix (by pin), 132-pounder Josh Bustamante (14-1 over Bruno Delatorre), 152-pounder Dalton Brooks (by pin), 160-pounder Paul Reyes (by pin), 170-pounder David Melendez (by pin) and 220-pounder Bailey Rodriguez (by pin).
The loss to Patterson means that the Tigers need to win the rest of their dual matches as well as the Western Athletic Conference tournament to earn a co-league championship, and will need help from other teams in order to win it outright.
“We have a better tournament team, and we’ve got some guys back. We had some holes against Patterson, so I’m not really worried about it,” Adams said. “It’s always nicer winning all the league duals and at the tournament you don’t have to worry about it. Now there’s a little spin on it.
“I think we’re going to get enough help from the other schools in our league to knock some of their guys down. Central Catholic has a good tournament team, so I think they could place second, and we could beat Central on depth, but Central has enough individuals.”