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Wild Night of Wrestling
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Saturday, January 28, 2012
Pioneer Valley’s Beatriz Barlista, on top, pins Righetti’s Betzy Bras during a wrestling match at Righetti High School Thursday night.  Photo by Daniel Dreifuss/SM Times
Pioneer Valley’s Beatriz Barlista, on top, pins Righetti’s Betzy Bras during a wrestling match at Righetti High School Thursday night. Photo by Daniel Dreifuss/SM Times

Pioneer Valley’s Miguel Ruiz, trailing Righetti’s Dante Gamble by a point as time was running out in their 220-pound wrestling match Thursday night, tried mightily for a winning two-point takedown.

Gamble stayed on his feet to preserve his 5-4 win — and help preserve Righetti’s 37-33 victory at its crowded Warrior Gym, and the Warriors’ run toward a PAC 7 League championship in the process.

“To tell you the truth, I was a little dizzy,” as time was winding down, Gamble said afterward.

“I glanced at the clock, saw that I was ahead, and knew I had to keep him from taking me down in order to get the win.” Gamble scored the last point of his match on an escape with 31.1 seconds left.

Had Ruiz taken Gamble down in the last seconds, that would have meant three more team points for the Panthers, three less for the Warriors and ... well, the math is easy to figure.

As it was, Righetti moved to 5-0 in the PAC 7 League. Pioneer Valley is 2-3. Righetti will be at Arroyo Grande next Tuesday night in the teams’ annual Battle of the Axe. Pioneer Valley will wrestle at St. Joseph at 7 p.m. that night in another league match.

That will be it for the teams involved until the PAC 7 League finals at Atascadero Feb. 4. The CIF-Southern Section Individual Finals will take place at San Luis Obispo High School Feb. 17 and 18.

The captivating Pioneer Valley-Righetti boys match was part of a boys-girls wrestling doubleheader Thursday night. The Pioneer Valley girls defeated Righetti 58-24.

Gamble gave Righetti’s boys a 31-30 lead with two matches left. In the next match, heavyweight Randy Ford needed just 1:10 to mathematically clinch the victory for the Warriors with a pin.

“That was definitely a turning point in the match,” second-year Righetti coach Andrew Domingues said of Gamble staying on his feet down the stretch.

“That was a six-point swing.”

Righetti winners included Gamble, Ford, Stuart Malm (12-1 major decision at 120 pounds); Josh Rodriguez (pin at 126); Mikey Zepeda (pin at 138); Luke Wilson (pin at 145) and Jesse Baldonado (forfeit at 170).

Pioneer Valley winners included Steve Barragan (pin at 113 pounds); John Dato (pin at 132); Adrian Vera (pin at 152); Matt Muldoon (pin at 160); Zach Grandy (8-5 decision at 182); Roy Ruiz (10-7 decision at 195); and Andrew Ibarra (8-6 decision at 106 pounds, the last match of the night).

Roy Ruiz gave the Panthers their last lead, at 31-30, with his three-point win.

Rodriguez finished second at the CIF State Wrestling Meet at 112 pounds last year. He’s 27-4 this year.

 “I expected a tough match against Pioneer Valley, really,” he said afterward Thursday night.

“They have a lot of tough guys in individual weight classes. But we came out, fought hard, and we won.”

Pioneer Valley coach Kevin Ilac said, “We had what we thought was a good game plan against them, and it turned out that way. I can’t be sad about this, disappointed about this. I’m very proud of our guys.

“But Righetti is the best team in the league, and they showed why.”

Domingues said, “You can’t ever overlook Pioneer Valley. They always have a good team, and they’re very well-coached.

“They had a good game plan against us — they went big for big against us, they won all those matches, and that shut the door and made it tight. But our guys came through.”

Girls wrestling

Pioneer Valley 58, Righetti 24

None of the matches went the distance, as the Panthers prevailed in a pinfest.

Pioneer Valley won four of the seven matches wrestled. There were several forfeits.

Panthers winners included Danielle Sigala (pin at 112 pounds); Shyla Espinoza (21-6 technical fall at 114); Beatriz Bautista (pin at 118); Estefany Cortez (pin at 126); Patricia Vigil (forfeit at 98 pounds); Monica Bobadilla (forfeit at 108); Courteney Tompkins (forfeit at 154); Irene Martinez (forfeit at 165); and Natalie Vasquez (forfeit at 189).

Righetti winners included Jackie Calderon (pin at 132 pounds); Rachel Duarte (pin at 138); and Laura Escalera (pin at 146).

Espinoza is having a big senior year. She’s 27-4 this season.

She’s been wrestling for four years, and her best finish so far is a fourth place at the CIF Southern Section Finals. Espinoza has a bigger goal this year.

“I want to place at the state meet,” she said.

“I’m way ahead of where I was at this point last year. My moves are getting better.”

Sigala, a junior, is a solid 12-3. “I’m doing OK (this season),” she said. “I’ve been trying my hardest.”

She, too, has an individual goal of placing at the state meet. Sigala said she thinks the Panthers squad has a chance to place at the sectional finals.

“The team is trying their best,” she said. “Some of the girls are more experienced than others.”

Kenny Cress / Sports Writer / SM Times / 1/27/12

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