Los Banos wrestlers win tough pair

By David Witte / sports@losbanosenterprise.comJanuary 10, 2013 

Los Banos wrestling faced two of its biggest league showdowns this week, and skated through them with ease.

On Tuesday the Tigers downed Central Catholic 41-27, then went back to work on Wednesday to demolish Patterson 60-16.

"That's what we want to do. We're shifting gears now where we want to increase our intensity, and the score's just the result of that and the intensity of the match," Los Banos coach Josh Adams said. "Just not giving up anything and taking guys out of their game, and kind of forcing them to wrestle us, and that's working for us, and paying off."

With the match starting at the 220-pound weight class, sophomore Bailey Rodriguez got the Los Banos Tigers started with a first-round pin of Patterson's Marc Lopez.

"[That first match] does a lot, it picks up the intensity, and you do really good, after that it gets us all started, puts us all on the go," Rodriguez said. "It's just a lot of intensity, just keep him out of it, make sure he doesn't score any points."

The intensity continued with Gavin Melendez in the 106-pound class, who pinned Sean DeOcampo in the second round of their match, followed by Jacob Venegas and Riko Quintana both pinning their opponents. Combined with a Patterson forfeit at the heavyweight class, Quintana's match put Los Banos up 30-0 in team points.

"I was impressed with the wrestling. Just top to bottom, even the matches we're losing, we're wrestling and they're doing the things that we're asking them to do," Adams said. "Little, subtle things that not everybody sees, but I know eventually they're improving to get to where we need to be."

Patterson didn't get on the board until Daniel Cota got the better of LB's Josh Bustamante at 126 pounds. Before the night was over, LB's Jimmy Felix, Phillip Martinez, Nathan Vander Poel and Dretel Blackwell all pinned their opponents.

It was a busy week for Los Banos -- in addition to the two dual matches this week, the Tigers sent five wrestlers to the Doc Buchanan Invitational Friday at Clovis High, and then descended on the Bulldog Classic Saturday at Ceres High.

The Doc Buchanan, widely considered the toughest wrestling tournament in California prior to the state championships, was not kind to the Tigers. LB sent Tyler Felix at 106 pounds, Venegas at 113, Quintana at 120, Jimmy Felix at 132 and Carrillo at 160. None of the five got past the first round, and only Quintana and Carrillo earned wins in the consolation bracket -- Quintana 6-2 over Spencer Boling of Half Moon Bay, and Carrillo 4-2 over Isaac Hartwig of Roseburg-Oregon and 4-2 over Carson Guzman of Clovis North.

The Tigers fared better in Ceres, with six wrestlers placing -- Carrillo and Tyler Felix took second, Blackwell and Jimmy Felix placed third, Rico placed fourth and Quintana was fifth.

"We talked about taking lumps in December, and it was worth it," Adams said. "Now we've seen it pay of where other teams in our league aren't able to keep up that intensity level. Compared to that, it's a lot easier in our conference and getting ready for the postseason."

Los Banos will hit the Westside Invitational Saturday in Firebaugh, followed by a dual meet against Ceres on Wednesday.

Japanese champions to wrestle in LB

As part of a cultural exchange program, a team of 13 Japanese national freestyle wrestling champions will wrestle against members of the Tigers Wrestling Club at 6 p.m. on Tuesday at LBHS.

Freestyle wrestling operates with slightly different rules and scoring, and rewards a more aggressive approach -- for instance, taking an opponent down to his back is worth three points, while taking him down from behind is worth one.

The Japanese wrestlers are on a tour through the Bay Area and Sacramento, and will visit Yosemite this weekend and wrestle against Sierra in Tollhouse, near the park, on Monday. Then the wrestlers will drop in on LB and train with the club Tuesday afternoon before the dual match.

"It's a lot flashier, it's a lot more intense, and they're a hell of a squad," said Adams, who coaches both the LBHS team and with the Tigers Wrestling Club. "We have some guys that may hang with them. We may not win a single match. But we're going to try to put together and recruit some help from some of the other schools in the area, maybe Firebaugh or Turlock, and put together a little all-star team. That's what some of the other areas they wrestle will do."

Los Banos has a few wrestlers that are experienced in freestyle wrestling -- Riko Quintana is a regional champion, and Jimmy Felix has gone to nationals in both freestyle and folk wrestling.

"So we have a couple of guys that know freestyle pretty well," Adams said. "We have a couple of guys that are just great wrestlers, so they can hang, but some of the weights we'll need some help."

Adams said he wrestled the Japan national team when he was a high school wrestler at Bret Harte.

"It's just a cool experience," he said. "We'll put their flag up, our flag up, they'll do their national anthem, our national anthem, it's just kind of a whole little spectacle."

Enterprise reporter David Witte can be reached by phone at 388-6565 or by e-mail at sports@losbanosenterprise.com

Enterprise reporter David Witte can be reached by phone at 388-6565 or by e-mail at sports@losbanosenterprise.com

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