With Ripon High School perhaps not quite as strong as it has been in years past, the Grizzlies smelled blood last Wednesday.
But even a weakened Ripon squad that had to forfeit three wrestling matches was able to hold off a furious rally by Mariposa County High School. It came down to the last match of the night, as Ripon walked away the winners, 42-36.
MCHS trailed 36-18 at one point, but three consecutive pins from MCHS’s Riley Gibson, Walt Palmer and Brock Burgess tied the match at 36.
It came down to freshman Lane Holt, who lost by pin to Ripon’s Juan Rodriguez in the first round, giving Ripon the points it needed to win.
“We knew it was going to be tough and it could come down to this,” said MCHS coach Scott Seymour. “We expect a home court advantage that we usually have. But we’ve got a young team.”
“The match with Lane Holt could have gone either way,” Seymour added. “He made a mistake in a maneuver. His youth got him pinned, but it very well could have gone where he pinned the guy. Those young matches can go one way or another.”
Besides the final match of the night, perhaps the most important match was at the 162-pound weight class, where sophomore Brock Burgess came up with a huge victory for MCHS to tie the dual at 36.
“He fought off his back for half a round and got cradled himself and fought that kind of the wrong way for too long and kept himself in danger,” said assistant coach Jerry Lura. “But he pulled it out. He’s developing.”
One of the more intense matches of the night was Nick Congdon’s at the 195-pound weight class. Congdon was edged 10-9.
“We were looking for a win at 195,” Seymour said. “He’s a better wrestler than that. He’s just young.”
MCHS is slated to be in action at a tournament in Los Banos at the Morning Star Invitational on Saturday, Dec. 16.
106: Patricia Flanagan (MCHS) won by forfeit
113: Isabella Good (MCHS) won by forfeit
120: Jacob Emmons (MCHS) lost by pin
126: Chris Marquez (MCHS) lost by pin
132: Sam Lura (MCHS) lost by pin
138: Bryce Norris (MCHS) lost by pin
145: Riley Gibson (MCHS) won by pin
152: Walt Palmer (MCHS) won by pin
162: Brock Burgess (MCHS) won by pin
170: Lane Holt (MCHS) lost by pin
182: Adam Hooe (MCHS) lost 7-4
195: Nick Congdon (MCHS) lost 10-9
220: Michael Wilson (MCHS) won by forfeit
Hvy: Cesario Higareda (MCHS) lost by pin
MCHS battles at Chukchansi
On last Friday and Saturday, following Wednesday’s match against Ripon, MCHS competed in the Chukchansi Invitational.
It featured 32-man brackets.
Only four varsity wrestlers went to the tournament: Bryce Norris (134 pounds), Riley Gibson (147 pounds), Walt Palmer (154 pounds) and Michael Wilson (222 pounds).
Of those, Gibson, Palmer and Wilson each advanced to the second day of the tournament, and each nearly medaled.
Wilson went 2-2 overall. He lost in the quarterfinals to Antonia Valle of Centennial, one match away from the medal rounds. He had a 2-1 lead at the end of the first round, but ended up getting pinned.
Wilson went on to lose 7-1 to Jacob Gonazlves of Leemore in the consolation round.
Gibson went 2-2 overall. He had to face the No. 1 seed in his weight class, John Raker of Corning, and was leading 2-0 after the first round, but he also went on to lose.
Palmer also went 2-2 overall. He beat Sergio Munoz of Sunnyside in the first round, lost to Esteban Molina of Firebaugh, defeated Ethan Natera of Hanford West and finally lost to Raymond Torres of Porterville.
“It’s one of the harder tournaments over the weekend,” Seymour said. “There were a lot of good schools.”
MCHS strong at Livingston
On Tuesday, Dec. 5, the night prior to the match against Ripon, MCHS competed against Livingston and Los Banos.
MCHS defeated Los Banos and lost in a close match to Livingston.
“Those are two very big programs,” Seymour said. “Mariposa is competitive with the bigger schools.”
Some of the notable finishes throughout the night included: MCHS’s Palmer lost to two California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) Sac-Joaquin Section Masters qualifiers in “tough” matches, Lura said.
Cesar Higareda won a three round match in the heavyweight division.
“He wrestled smart,” Lura said. “He won in a great match.”
Girls make history
On the girls side last Tuesday, MCHS made history. The girls team was able to compete in two full dual matches. The amount of girls on the MCHS team is the most in school history, Seymour said.
“We have the same number of girls as the much bigger schools that have been having girls teams for a long time,” Seymour said. “Our girls program is skyrocketing.”
Seymour explained part of the reason there are so many girls is because he and Lura went into a gym class at MCHS and spoke to the students about wrestling, which got them interested.
No official score was kept, Lura said, for the girls side.
The girls team, along with the JV team, will compete at Pacheco High School this Saturday.
Matt Johnson is Sports and Education Editor of the Mariposa Gazette and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.