ATWATER — Chopper Mello huddled his Golden Valley wrestling team together behind the bench.
He waved them in closer.
With a librarian's tone, the fiery coach showered his team with praise rarely heard this early in the season.
"I've never been prouder of a team," Mello told his boys. "You probably don't know it, but there were a lot of good things that happened out there."
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to the Merced Sun-Star
He wasn't kidding.
Yeng Lee broke open a back-and-forth match with a late pin in the 215-pound weight class and Golden Valley won four of the final six matches in a 39-27 Central California Conference victory over Buhach Colony on Wednesday.
Lee, Ben Weber, Jaime Farias, Wyatt Anderson and Joseph Allen all recorded pins in the victory.
Farias (125) clinched the victory in the final match of the evening, sucking the noise out of the Thunder Dome.
'We've been working hard since Nov. 10 — the first day of practice," Mello said. "This is our 15th dual of the season and it showed.
"Everybody thinks we're young and that we're rebuilding, but to beat a quality program like Buhach Colony ... I don't know that they were ready for us. We outwrestled them."
Two of the area's marquee programs traded blows through the first eight matches, resulting in five lead changes. Then Lee turned the match in Golden Valley's favor — literally.
Squirming near the edge of the circle, trying to avoid a pin, Lee used Jose Gonzalez's momentum to reverse position. Seconds later, he pressed Gonzalez's shoulders to the mat for the quick pin.
Golden Valley took 24-21 lead and never looked back.
Buhach Colony made it interesting with back-to-back decisions at 112s and 119s.
Francisco Tejeda beat Golden Valley senior David Thao 7-1 and Mike Guzman held on for a 9-4 win, pulling BC within 33-27 with one match to go.
Farias wouldn't be denied, drilling and eventually pinning Martel Richardson.
"It's hard," BC coach Eric Osmer said. "We had a couple of close ones that we shouldn't have lost. Golden Valley was more focused."
TURLOCK 45, LOS BANOS 28, at Los Banos — The defending CCC champion Bulldogs started conference on the right foot with seven pins.