FAIRFIELD — It came down to the last match and Patrick Ferrer flexed his muscles.
With the Rodriguez High wrestling team clinging to a slim 30-28 lead heading into the final match of the night, heavyweight Ferrer recorded a pin in just 22 seconds to seal the Mustangs’ 36-28 win over Armijo at E. Gary Vaughn Gymnasium on Wednesday.
Rodriguez coach Mike Clarkston knew coming in that this would be a tough dual with the cross-town rival Indians.
“I’ve been telling the kids for weeks, we’ve been to three tournaments with Armijo and it was always really close,” Clarkston said. ” . . . Even this last weekend in the medal round, they were ahead of us at our tournament. I told them they needed to watch themselves and we kind of got caught a lot tonight.
“Patrick, it was his first match since he fractured his ankle (in early January). It was a good match. I had a talk with the kids yesterday and said be excited and be ready to show up because it’s going to be a close one.”
“When I was looking at the matches, I thought we matched up really well against them,” the coach said. “Where we were strong, they weren’t strong. I knew it was going to be close until the end. There were some (matches) where we had them on their back and I thought it was a pin, it looked like a pin (but it wasn’t).”
Armijo jumped out to a quick 9-0 lead after two matches when Darius Levan (108 pounds) won by pin and Houston Scibek (115) won a 8-3 decision.
But the Mustangs battled back to tie the score at 9 after a close 4-3 win by Joemar Anicete (122) and a pin by Brandon Vu (128).
Armijo regained a 15-9 lead after Cameron Hibbert (134) recorded a third-period pin, and the lead swelled to 19-9 after Hayden Scibek (140) won a 13-5 major decision.
But Rodriguez bounced back again, eventually grabbing a 21-19 lead after back-to-back pins by Jarrod Guinn (147) and Brandon Diaz (154).
The Mustangs’ lead increased to 24-19 after Emilio Gutierrez (162) won 8-3, but the Indians’ Amini Kapapa (172) got a fall of his own to give Armijo a 25-24 advantage.
The Mustangs regained the lead 27-25 after Christian Chubbs (184) won a very close 9-8 decision, but Armijo’s Billy Cimmino (197) responded with an 8-5 win for the Indians’ last lead at 28-27.
Rodriguez took the lead for good at 30-28 after Ryan Ballard (222) won another close match 8-7 before Ferrer sealed the win with his pin at heavyweight.
Next up for both teams will be the Monticello Empire League championship back at Armijo on Feb. 15.
“At the league tournament, if our guys do what they should have done, or step up another notch, maybe beat someone they weren’t expecting to beat,” Correa said, “I think we can finish pretty high up in the MEL.
Armijo won the JV match, 45-36 thanks in part to a couple of late forfeits by the Mustangs.
Reach Brian Arnold at 427-6969 or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/barnolddr.