The Paso Robles High wrestling team was tasked with replacing seven starters, including four league champions, from last year’s squad that edged Atascadero by 22 points for the PAC 7 title and finished 16th at the
CIF-Southern Section Masters tournament.In a dual Tuesday night against the Greyhounds, the kids proved they are doing just fine.
Sophomore heavyweight Blake Irysh kicked off the night with a second-period pin, and the Bearcats recorded eight falls in all en route to a commanding 56-15 victory over hometown Atascadero.
“It just feels great to fire up the team like that,” said Irish, who joined wrestling this year to get in better shape for football. “It’s a feeling like no other.”
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A Paso Robles forfeit at 106 pounds tied the score at 6 early, but it was all Bearcats from there. Kris Sanchez, Kameron Morones, Kobe Feeley, Trevor Torres, Zack Holmes and Jeremy Woodruf had pins, and Lawrence Ray recorded a second-period technical fall to stake
Paso Robles to an insurmountable 47-6 advantage.
“We came in knowing it was going to be a close dual,” Feeley, a sophomore 126 pounder, said. “But we’ve been working as hard as any team around, and we’ve bought into the program.”
Seniors Nick Ducasse and Ryan Lombardi picked up hard-fought decisions at 160 and 170 pounds, respectively, to stem the tide for the Greyhounds, who also got a last-second takedown from Jordan Council to win the final bout of the night at 220 pounds.
But it was a case of too little, too late for Atascadero on its Senior Night.
“They just wrestled better than we did tonight,” Greyhounds coach Trevor Tice said. “They caught us and it just started adding up. It was hard to come back.”
Rudy Nunez earned the Bearcats’ final pin of the night when he stuck CJ Cooper with 14 seconds remaining in the final period of the 182-pound match.
Senior Jimmy Pacheco followed his teammate by grinding out a 4-3 win over Karson Block at 195 pounds.
After a scoreless first, Pacheco started the second period down and his escape was the only point scored in the frame. Block escaped early in the third to even things at 1-1 before the action turned up in the final 30 seconds.
That’s when Pacheco earned a takedown, but Block had a quick reversal to make the score 3-3 with 28 seconds left.
Needing just an escape to win, Pacheco broke free near the edge of the mat just long enough to earn the decisive point with 12 seconds remaining.
“I knew I had to go in and wrestle smart; stick to my strategy and not let him do what he wanted to do,” Pacheco said.
“Our goal was to come in tonight and dominate, because these are our rivals and we wanted to show them who’s No. 1 in this area.”
Tuesday marked the final league dual of the season as both teams prepare for the PAC 7 Tournament on Feb. 14.
Both the Greyhounds and the Bearcats dropped duals to Pioneer Valley during the season. Paso Robles won more bouts than the Panthers, but had to forfeit two weight classes.
“It was a good loss, because it let us know where we were and what we needed to learn,” said Feeley, who is two weeks back from a broken collarbone suffered during football season. “That experience will help later in the year.”
With the team hitting its stride at the right moment, Bearcats coach Chris Monteiro is looking for a different outcome against Pioneer Valley in the deciding tournament.
“We’ve had a problem in the past of not peaking at the right time,” he said. “So, the beginning of the year … we didn’t push as hard, and we started to gradually improve. We’re a different team than we were three weeks ago.”
It’s a team that showed Tuesday how lethal it can be when it comes to racking up bonus points — a critical weapon come tournament time.
“Those bonus points; you just can’t come back from those,” Monteiro said. “But at the same token, we won 10 out of 14 matches, and the ones we lost, we were right there. “It’s really exciting to see the improvements we’ve made in the last three weeks.”