CONCORD — The Bulldogs held their own, but giving up too many extra points doomed the Vacaville High wrestling team.
Ranked No. 2 in the state by thecaliforniawrestler.com, Vacaville hung tough, but ultimately succumbed to No. 1-ranked Clovis 43-24 Saturday afternoon at the De La Salle Showcase.
The Bulldogs were in most of the matches, winning six of the 14 bouts contested, but they recorded just one pin compared to the Cougars’ six, making for the lopsided score, even with a couple of lineup switches.
“I had it to eight matches to six for them on paper, so the two lineup moves were intended to give us a shot to win,” co-head coach Adam Wight said. “Truth be told, if we hadn’t given up bonus points in six of those eight (losses), we probably would have kept (the score) a lot closer. When you’re wrestling a team like that, that’s better than you, you have to do some kind of move to make it work in your favor. . . . When you’re giving up bonus points to a good team, you know that pretty much signals the end.”
Clovis coach Steve Tirapelle was proud his team picked up the victory, but showed a lot of respect to the Bulldogs.
“Vacaville has always had a great program and puts quality kids out on the mat,” Tirapelle said. “You know when they get out there, they’re going to get after it. We totally admire their program, and their program’s history and tradition. We’re just happy to come in here and represent the Central Section. I think all the top teams are pretty much the same, they wrestle hard for six minutes. They’re not going to give up on you. You have to stay on top of them. Vacaville’s had that tradition for years, and all the top teams like Poway.”
At 120 pounds, Kasey Klaus gave the Bulldogs an early 4-0 lead with a 12-4 major decision victory, but Clovis bounced right back with Jonas Gayton (126) pinning Anthony Hernandez late in the third period for a 6-4 lead.
Vacaville’s Cameron Bailey (132) gave his team a 7-6 victory after a hard-fought 5-4 win, and Bobby Ehman (138) upped the score to 10-6 after a 6-2 win of his own.
But that was the last lead the Bulldogs would enjoy as Jason Ladd, at 145 pounds, recorded a first-period pin for a 12-10 advantage.
Vaca’s Hayden Fry held a 4-1 lead in the third period, but gave up an escape and a 2-point takedown late in the period and was taken to overtime by Dominic Kincaid, who won by pin just 21 seconds into the extra minute of action in the 152-pound weight class.
Jessie Johnson then won by fall in the third period over Brody Brand at 160 pounds cut Vaca’s deficit to 18-16, but a mistake by the Bulldogs’ Danny Delgado (170) resulted in a pin by Matthew Grantham, upping the lead to 24-16.
The Bulldogs’ Chris Lai was within two points of Clovis’ Adrian Salas, ranked No. 1 in the state, but gave up three third-period points and fell 8-3 at 182s.
Jeremy Sweany, Vaca’s No. 1 ranked wrestler in the state at 195 pounds, easily disposed of Clovis Matt Weiss, ranked third in California, 10-2, cutting the lead to 27-20, but Clovis rolled off three straight wins to clinch the points battle at 43-20.
The Bulldogs’ Gionn Peralta, the state’s top-ranked wrestler at 106 pounds but was competing at 113 pounds, gave Vacaville a 10-1 major decision victory to close the match on a positive note.
“Our heavyweight wrestled his (butt) off against the No. 1 guy in the state,” Wight said. “I was really proud of the manhood that he showed. I think ultimately, that showed us we can wrestle with those guys. Winning six matches, if we get that closer, that means we can maybe do something in March (at the state championships).”
The Bulldogs bounced back later in the evening and blasted Gilroy, ranked No. 8 in the state, 60-13. Hernandez, Lai and Delgado bounced back from earlier defeats and won with pins, as did Zach Dawson at 152 pounds.
Wight knows there’s still work to do as the postseason approaches, but also knows his wrestlers are up to the task.
“This is just part of the process, not the end,” Wight said. “. . . It’s was tough opening with the best team in the state. Maybe if we had one before, then it may have gone different. But I’m glad we bounced back. It will make us better (as the season goes on).”