After a rough go of it in the Vacaville Duals over the weekend, the Los Banos High wrestling team finally got in the win column with Wednesday’s 39-25 victory over San Benito out of Hollister.
But the preseason duals don’t matter much to the Tigers (who are now 1-11, for the record). It’s all about getting better for the league dual season, which starts next Tuesday at Livingston. Pacheco hosts Patterson on Wednesday.
“I’m not worried about our team record as much as just them getting out there and trying stuff. They’ve got to get better,” Los Banos coach Josh Adams said. “They can’t get conservative, they can’t just be defensive and try to win a 2-point match. I was telling them they can’t win a 2-point match and not get better. We’ve got to keep getting after it.
“And I don’t care if they lose and get pinned while they’re trying stuff and trying to get better. I’m OK with that.”
His wrestlers are taking that attitude to heart. It’s worked for some, while others get caught.
Take for example sophomore Paul Reyes, who trailed 5-4 in his 160-pound match against San Benito’s Matthew Baldwin after a Baldwin escape near the start of the third round. Reyes tried this and that, and ended up on top for a 2-point takedown just as time expired for a 6-5 victory.
On the other end of the spectrum, 170-pounder David Melendez got caught reaching and found San Benito’s Simon Coelho locked around his head and one arm. Coelho pinned Melendez 1:36 into the match.
“Some of them are taking some risks and some of them are getting caught,” Adams said. “David was looking better and then he just got caught in that head and arm. That’s been, like, his nemesis.”
The Tigers and Haybalers were tied 15-15 early on after the Tigers lost at 182 pounds and 113 pounds and forfeited at 106, while 195-pounder Daniel Fernandez earned a pin, 220-pounder Bailey Rodriguez defeated Ezra Contreras 6-4 and heavyweight Evan Duran pinned Ramon Escamilla in 3:47.
Then LB went on a four-match run through the lower-middle weights to put the match out of reach – Victory Leal started the run with a 5-2 win over Juan Gutierrez, followed by a Tyler Felix pin of Fayz Yasin in 2:36 at 126 pounds, a Josh Bustamante pin of Anthony Weitz in 2:42 at 132 pounds and Fernando “Ferbilicious” Mendoza’s 9-5 win over Patrick Ippocito at 138.
San Benito’s Jaime Aleman broke the streak with a 12-3 win over Andrew Cintora.
“Our lower middle weights are tough, and our upper weights are finally coming together. That’s what makes a difference,” Adams said. “At our dual meets this weekend, we didn’t have a 190-pounder, we didn’t have a 182-pounder, so we forfeited those weights, and we were kind of sporadic other than that. And we had to forfeit other guys because Tyler Felix can’t wrestle nine matches, we can’t afford that, because you can only wrestle 40 matches on the season.”
While the Tigers have a very young squad this year, Felix, a junior, is one of those that brings back the most experience. Felix qualified for the state tournament last spring, along with his brother Jimmy, who is has graduated. Tyler’s goal is to not only return to the state meet, but to place there.
“He’s head and shoulders above where he was last year in terms of his maturity and skill set. I’m really impressed with where he’s at,” Adams said. “He has a long way to go to get on the medal stand in March, and that’s his long-term goal, but just like anybody else, I’m not worried about the losses. He wrestled a tough kid at 26s, we bumped him up just trying to juggle things around, wrestled a kid from Spanish Springs and he lost up there.”
Felix is ranked fourth in the section by The California Wrestler magazine at 113 pounds, where he wrestled a year ago. He will wrestle most of the season at 120, but bumps up to 126 for dual matches. The junior said he feels more confident this year.
“Got a little bigger, gained some weight. I feel stronger than last year,” he said. “I think I can move around more and have my way with them.”
Felix isn’t the only wrestler that brings a wealth of experience.
“Josh Bustamante is a sleeper,” Adams said. “He’s a (Sac-Joaquin Section) Masters qualifier, but when they do the rankings, we have Tyler Felix because they know him because he went to the state tournament. Everybody else is unknown.”