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Paloma Valley edges Temescal Canyon to win Ivy League boys wrestling title

Paloma Valley edges Temescal Canyon to win Ivy League boys wrestling title

LAKE ELSINORE >> Every wrestler wants to win their match, but one of the golden rules for all wrestlers in a dual meet is don’t get pinned.

Losing by decision and giving up three points is not the end of the world for a wrestling team. Losses by pinfall (six points), however, can be extremely difficult to overcome.

Paloma Valley used that strategy perfectly Thursday night. Temescal Canyon won 8 of 14 matches in the Ivy League showdown with the Wildcats but only one those came via pinfall. It was not enough for the Titans to overcome two forfeits, and Paloma Valley held on for a 30-29 win to capture the league championship.

“We know we can get falls, but we don’t want to give any up,” Paloma Valley coach Luis Robles said. “We asked a lot from our younger wrestlers tonight.”

One of those wrestlers was Dylan Brandenburg, a freshman who squared off against Angel Raya at 152 pounds, the last match of the night. Paloma Valley held a 30-26 lead and would have won on criteria (total pins and forfeits) in case of tie score. The only ways Temescal Canyon could win the meet was Raya pinning Brandenburg or scoring a technical fall (worth five points).

Raya dominated the match, scoring three takedowns and a reversal en route to a 9-1 lead in the third period. Brandenburg, however, avoided near falls and scored a dramatic reversal during the closing seconds of the match to cut a deficit of eight points (a major decision) down to six (a normal decision).

Despite losing the match, Brandenburg was treated like a hero by teammates.

“You just have to stay calm and have faith in what you’ve been doing all year,” Brandenburg said. “I did not want to see a tie score, so I dug deep at the end.”

Added Robles: “The whole time I’m thinking this is a lot of pressure to have on his shoulders. He’s a freshman, and it all comes down to this for the title. I was nervous, but he did exactly what we needed … he didn’t get pinned.”

Temescal Canyon jumped out to a 14-0 lead Thursday night following victories by William O’Brien (8-5 at 160), Justin Flores (10-0 at 170), Jonathan Granado (11-1 at 182) and Jake Merrifield (7-4 at 195). Despite having the early lead, Temescal Canyon coach Ryan Hazinski said there were missed opportunities.

“You always hope for extra points wherever you can get them,” Hazinski said. “We needed to get a least one pin, maybe even two to overcome what we were going to give up.”

Hazinski was referring to the Titans forfeiting matches at 220 and 285 pounds, as one wrestler was out with pneumonia and the other did not pass a groom check. That put Paloma Valley right in the match, and the Wildcats surged to an 18-14 lead at the midway point after Elijah Benavidez pinned Dylan Tait to win at 106 pounds.

That was the not the last time the lead changed hands. Temescal Canyon went back in front when Julian Gutierrez pinned Cristian Mier at 113 pounds, and the Titans extended the advantage to 23-18 after Hans Estorco scored a takedown in overtime to pull out a 4-2 win over Enrique Espinoza in the 120-pound match.

Paloma Valley immediately answered back. Roman Carrillo pinned Ben Jeong in the opening period of the 126-pound match to give the Wildcats a 24-23 edge, and 132-pounder Brandon Brown scored an 11-5 win to push the lead to 27-23.

Then came the anticipated match between Paloma Valley’s Cameron Owen and Temescal Canyon’s Mario De La Torre at 138 pounds. Owen scored a takedown in the first period for a 2-0 lead. He started in the top position in the second period and scored two more points on a near fall. Owen was in the down position at the start of the final period, and a reversal was the finishing touch on a 6-0 victory. De La Torre nearly scored two reversals during the match, but Owen was able to maintain control.

“I’ve wrestled him before. He’s a great opponent,” Owen said about De La Torre. “I knew it was going to be a battle, so I made sure to put everything on the line.”

Jacob Cobb recorded a 6-2 win at 145 pounds, helping Temescal Canyon trim the deficit to 30-26 and setting up a finish that had the entire crowd cheering and chanting wrestler’s names.

“That was a great dual meet to be part of,” Robles said. “Almost every match, you were thinking this could be the one that ultimately decides it. I’m proud of these guys. They’ve worked extremely hard, and it was an entire team effort.”

While the narrow loss was heartbreaking for the Titans, Hazinski believes his wrestlers should hold their heads high. Temescal Canyon finished third in the standings last season, and scores against Paloma Valley and Canyon Springs were not very close. The Titans beat Canyon Springs this season.

“I think that is the best we have wrestled all year,” Hazinski said. “Sure, we lost and it sucks, but I reassured my wrestlers there’s nothing to be ashamed about.”


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