When Pitman and Golden Valley have wrestled the last couple years, it has often decided the Central California Conference championship.
The two teams split the championship in 2014, and Pitman won the title outright last year.
The Pride’s bid for a third straight championship got off to a good start on Wednesday night with a decisive 46-21 win over Golden Valley at Cougar Arena.
“Our kids just competed,” said Pitman coach Adam Vasconcellos, whose team improved to 5-1 overall. “Chopper (Mello) always has a good dual meet team. Even though the score wasn’t close, there were a lot of close matches.”
The match started at 106 pounds, which played in the favor of the Pride, which has strong lower-weight wrestlers.
Trey Peacock set the tone in the first match by pinning Dominick Quimby late in the first round to give the Pride a 6-0 lead.
Golden Valley had to forfeit the next match because its 113-pounder, Derrick Moua, was struck by a car earlier this week and isn’t medically cleared to wrestle yet.
The Pride went on to win eight of the first 10 matches to build a 37-9 lead after Colby Lankford (170 pounds) outlasted Golden Valley’s Johnny Martinez 4-3 in double overtime.
“We have some good kids in the lower and middle weights,” Vasconcellos said. “They are all returning for us. It helps us to start there. It helped us get on a roll.”
It didn’t help the Cougars (11-3) that some of their better wrestlers, like Martinez and Imannuel Wright, found themselves in tough matches.
“We didn’t match up well with Pitman,” Mello said. “It also didn’t help that we had to forfeit at 113 pounds. Knowing that we had to do that, I knew were going to have to do a lot to make that up in other places.”
Martinez dropped a tough match in double-overtime, and Wright found himself matched up against Pitman’s Adam Velasquez, who is ranked fifth in the state. Velasquez won the 132-pound match 16-7 by scoring eight takedowns.
Golden Valley did have a few bright spots. Daniel Carlin dominated his 120-pound match. Carlin came out and scored a takedown and put Mark Sanchez on his back 13 seconds into the match and eventually secured a pin at the 3-minute mark.
Brady Mello won a 2-1 decision over Tondrick Pope at 138 pounds.
Michael Ramirez needed just 35 seconds to pin Pitman’s Diego Basulto in the 182-pound matchup.
Jacob Pavey picked up Golden Valley’s fourth win with a pin of Jamie Villegas 30 seconds into the second round of their 220-pound match.
“Pavey is wrestling well, he’s at a high level right now,” Chopper Mello said. “Daniel Carlin did well. Brady had a strategy tonight. He has lost some close matches, so he wanted to win a close match tonight, and he was able to do that. And Michael Ramirez pinned his guy. He definitely stood out.”
Buhach Colony 33 Turlock 27 at Turlock – The Thunder opened up the conference dual season with a big win over the Bulldogs. Kue Leem (106), Nate Briones (113) and Brandon Mendoza (120) all recorded major decisions for Buhach Colony. The Thunder also got big contributions from Keelan Buckner (145) and Steven Inocencio (220), who both pinned their opponents.
Merced 42, Atwater 36 at Merced – Daniel Walker (132), Eddie Chariez (138), Brent Vang (152), Dustin James (195) and Javier Camacho (120) all recorded pins for the Bears to account for 30 of Merced’s 42 points.
El Capitan 68, Ceres 44 at Ceres – Isaiah Knott and James Sellers each scored 16 points as the Gauchos (10-5, 1-0 WAC) opened up conference play with a road victory. El Capitan pounced on the Bulldogs early, jumping out to a 43-16 lead by the half. Sellers and Kott combined for seven 3-pointers.