EL DORADO — A big crowd turned out Tuesday to witness Union Mine defeat intra-county neighbor El Dorado 37-30 to close the Sierra Valley Conference regular season schedule.
With little more than bragging rights on the line, the D’backs overcame a first-match deficit with back-to-back pins and led the rest of the way on a night the Union Mine program honored seniors Augie Ahuna, Sam Armanino, Brian Craik, Chuck Crosby, Tyler Mills, Nick Ravetto, Steven Walker and stat girl Christine Treece. Four of the seniors: Ahuna, Craik, Ravetto and Walker saw action in the varsity bouts.
“We knew it’d be close, come down to matchups and that we’d have to have kids step up,” Union Mine coach Tim Brown said. “Like most duals it comes down to pins — the ones you get and ones you don’t give up. Tonight we held the strong part of their lineup to decisions while from ours we had pins. They came at us aggressively but we stuck to the basics and made good decisions.”
Though D’back Hunter Cannon hung tough in his 184-pound match against Alex Lebaron, the Cougar prevailed 4-0. Union Mine bolted up 12-3 as James Warden (197) cradled Tryston Ross 30 seconds in and Ahuna followed and broke a 2-2 tie with a fall of Alejandro Olquin.
“I was able to take advantage of his mistake and did a half nelson to pin him,” said first-year wrestler Ahuna.
El Dorado hoped to rebound behind heavyweight Zach Brazell who suffered a 7-4 setback to Zach Mathews before Willy Gadow (106) stopped the bleeding with a late reverse to upend Robert Taylor.
The Cougars forfeited to Chris Lee (115) and extended as Kevin Casio (122) defeated Alex Ollar 15-3 though Ollar’s third-period reverse almost caught Casio on his back.
Trailing 25-6, El Dorado’s Jacob Tabatchnick (128) gutted out a 4-3 triple overtime win against Walker but D’back Christian Beck (134) shook a tight score to pin Marcus Douglas with 16 ticks left. At 142s, Cougar Nathan Erskine slipped out the back to reverse in the second period before pinning Billy Morning. The 147-pound bout between D’back Mike Cathey and John Kunkle was close before Cathey used a reverse nelson to put Kunkle to his back for a 37-15 Union Mine advantage — putting the match mathematically out of El Dorado’s reach.
“The difference started right off the bat with those early pins and in some matches we were hoping for a different result — pins instead of decisions,” Cougar coach Robert Hart said.
The Cougars did win the last three bouts starting with Rick Reed (154) who came out aggressively to pin Quinn Smiley with a minute left in the first.
“Some of our guys came out ready to wrestle, some didn’t,” said Reed who used a Cooper to pin Smiley. “I was really pumped up and I approach each match as if it could go overtime.”
Jeremiah Romero (162) broke a third period 7-7 score to post a 12-7 decion over Craik and the match ended as El Dorado’s Tyler Land (172) turned Ravetto to his back with 16 seconds left in the second.
Both teams finished 3-3 in league.
Note: The Cougars will host the league finals Feb. 9 and hold their banquet that evening at the Cold Springs Golf and Country Club, extending the invite to wrestlers, family and friends of the program. Special guest of honor will be Bill Hickey, considered the “founding father” of El Dorado wrestling. Also on the guest list is former team members from each decade from the 50′s to present. For information, contact Davis Pimentel at email@example.com.