By GUY DOSSI
For The Union Democrat
For the eighth consecutive year, the Calaveras Redskins wrestling team is the Mother Lode League champions.
With a 66-9 victory over the Bret Harte Bullfrogson Wednesdayduring senior night at Mike Flock Gym, the Skins captured another title.
"I have been a part of Calaveras wrestling for the past four years, so to come out here on senior night and to walk away with the league title is just a great feeling," said Redskin grappler Logan Sullivan. "Calaveras has won the league title 13 of the past 14 years, and I'm proud to be a part of that tradition."
"Tonight the kids were set on winning a league championship, and I think it was a pretty convincing show on their part," said Calaveras head coach Vince Bicocca. "You could tell that they had the fire in their eyes and the desire to win."
Calaveras jumped out to an early 12-0 lead as Tyler Chavez and Jacob Abeyta both won via forfeit. The team then went on an impressive run as Tyler Gonsalves, Anthony Giangregorio, and Jason Stokkeland all were able to pin their opponents.
Lyford Morris, at 145 pounds, got the Bullfrogs on the scoreboard with a hard fought 4-3 win over Alex Rajewski. Morris was up 4-1 after two periods, and was able to hold off Rajewski's tenacious comeback attempt. Both wrestlers were fatigued by the third period, and were wrestling off instinct and desire.
"Motivation is the only thing that can counter being tired," Morris said. "I was tired at the end of my match and don't feel that I wrestled to the best of my ability tonight. I would love to have a rematch with him again."
Trevor Vath and Liam Loughran squared off in the 152-pound weight class, and it was Calaveras' Vath that was able to pick up the 12-8 victory. The bout was knotted up at 6-6 after two periods, but Loughran was unable to put Vath away.
"This is the first match Liam has been able to wrestle since the second week of the season, due to a knee injury," said Bullfrogs second-year head coach Alonzo Nalls. "He hasn't been able to run or do anything in that time, so he just went out and wrestled with true heart and determination."
With Bret Harte able to put good back-to-back matches together, the Frogs were starting to gain some momentum. Bret Hart's Albert Muetterties, a 160-pounder, looked like he was in prime position to pin sophomore Austin Garant late in the first period, but Garant was able to run out the clock and continue to wrestle.
"I just had to keep fighting and knew that I couldn't give up," Garant said. "I looked up at the clock and saw that there were just 25 seconds left in the first period, so I knew I needed to keep fighting off my back."
"I was trying to get his shoulders down, lifting my head and keeping my back straight, but I wasn't able to get his shoulder down," Muetterties said.
Muetterties led 9-7 going into the final period, but it was fatigue and self-confidence that played a part in him being beaten 12-9.
"I came into my match a little under confident with this being my first year wrestling on the varsity level, and I wasn't sure what to expect tonight from Calaveras," Muetterties said. "I probably should have had a little more confidence because that would have helped me towards the end of the match. I also had a little bit of fatigue working against me late in the match. This next week, I will be working harder in the room than I have been, so I can step up my game before the league tournament."
Bret Harte's star grappler Justin Barnes at 170 pounds got the Frogs lone pin, as he got over on Ayden Garcia midway through the second period. Barnes was able to get the pin in 3 minutes 6 seconds into the match, something that has been a common occurrence in his matches.
"Getting a pin is all about wanting to get a pin," Barnes said. "It's about having confidence and knowing that you are going out there and nothing is going to stop you. I really wanted to get a pin tonight, because up to that point, we were pretty flat and we're getting beat pretty good. I wanted to make a statement."
"Justin is our leader, our captain, and is a guy who works hard each and every day," Nalls said. "He outworks everybody and is a good role model for the younger guys to look up to as far as working hard and doing what needs to be done to be a top-tier wrestler."
After the Barnes win, Calaveras went back on the attack, adding three consecutives pins from Logan Sullivan, Max Smith and Jared Kirk. For the 195-pound Smith, he was able to get up 9-1 after the first period and knew he could dictate the rest of the contest.
"You can get kind of comfortable with a lead, which allows you go to a little slower and not be rushed to get a pin," Smith said. "With that, you have to be careful about them reversing something, putting you on your back, and getting a pin."
Sullivan, at 182, picked up a pin in 26 seconds and knew that it was all about doing what he has been coached to do in his four years on the Calaveras mat.
"It was business as usual," Sullivan said. "I was dancing around with my guy the first part of the round to get a feel for him, and from there, I knew what I wanted to do. I was able to get a hold of his wrist, take him down and from there I was able to pin him. It's all about transition. The object of the sport is to get your guy on his back, so I am constantly looking for that transition of getting a guy down, to getting a pin. That is something that I have been working on all year with my coaches."
Sullivan's dedication to continuing the excellence of Redskin wrestling has been noticed by Bicocca.
"Logan is one of those guys that has been here for four years and is a total team leader," Bicocca said. "He works very hard and we are going to miss him when he is gone."
For the Bret Harte Bullfrogs, they know that a turnaround in their program is closer than people think.
"We came into tonight as the underdog and finished as the underdog," Morris said. "I do think that we had a good showing in some ways, and the kids that are working hard are improving and that's a good thing to see. Improvement is what I care about."