FAIRFIELD — The Monticello Empire League wrestling season began Wednesday night, and the matchup between Will C. Wood and Armijo high schools showed others in the league these two teams could make some noise.
In the end it was the Wildcats winning 41-33, but the Indians were in the match all evening, Wood winning eight matches and Armijo six at E. Gary Vaughn Gymnasium.
The Indians opened an early 12-0 lead behind a forfeit win by Darius Levan at 106 pounds and a pin in 2 minutes, 33 seconds by Terrance Saeteurn.
Then it was Wood’s turn, winning the next four bouts.
The Wildcats’ Manny Griego started the comeback with a technical fall (15-0) at 120, which Hunter Morrison followed up with a pin at 126 in just 2:15 to cut the Indians’ lead to 12-11.
Wood’s Zach McKee (132) and Alex Parvin (138) continued the run with pins of their own, McKee’s in 2:54, Parvin’s in 1:59, giving the Wildcats a 23-12 advantage.
Armijo’s Dennis Mattuzzi put a halt to Wood’s momentum, getting a pin in 3:16 at 145 pounds. Damian Simpson cut the Wildcats’ lead to 23-21 with a hard-fought 7-2 victory over Isaiah Sanchez at 152.
Wood got back to its winning ways when Adrian Maldonado picked up a close 8-7 win over Armijo’s Jorge Perez at 162, followed by a 4-2 win at 170 by the Wildcats’ Markus Mourlot over the Indians Amini Kapapa for a 29-21 lead.
But Armijo bounced right back to cut the lead to 29-27 after the Indians’ Danny Charos picked up a pin in 3:00 at 182.
The Wildcats’ Christian Esquer (195) and Josh Winters (220) each won by pin for an insurmountable lead of 41-27 with only the heavyweight match remaining.
Armijo’s Kris Elkin then gave the home crowd one final thing to cheer about. With the score tied early in the final period, Elkin pulled a reversal on Deontre Frank and wound up with a pin in 4:32, bringing the Indians fans to their feet.
“That was exiting,” Armijo coach Cesar Correa said of the night’s final match. “He did a good job pulling it off. We thought we had that match in the bag, but Elkin gave up some points at the end there, but he dug in deep and pulled it off. I don’t know how, but he did it.
“They have some pretty tough kids and just the weights they were at, I knew it was going to be close. There were two 2-point matches that we could have pulled out. Hopefully, those matches that we lost, we are going to see those kids again (at the MEL championships) and we’re going to try to beat them at league. It’s just going to be a matter of fixing our mistakes now and seeing if we can make it deep into the postseason as possible.”
Wood coach Thor Jensen was impressed with Armijo’s intensity.
“They’re pretty good,” Jensen said. “They battled tough. We’re missing a coupe of guys, but there are no excuses there. I knew it would be close. We have some good kids and we have some young kids in out varsity lineup and they are pretty solid all around. We just have to keep working. We have the league tournament at our school. We need to try to get healthy and go from here.”
Reach Brian Arnold at 427-6969 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/barnolddr.