Grapplers rout Salinas in TCAL opener

Haybalers win 11 of 14 matches, defeat Cowboys 59-12
Hollister – On paper, only 10 spots separate No. 4 San Benito from No. 14 Salinas.

But on the mat, well, those 10 spots of separation are stretched further apart than some may have imagined, especially after Wednesday’s mano-a-mano dual meet.

The two teams met for their Tri-County Athletic League opener in Hollister, and the Haybalers provided more than enough fuel to surpass their league rival as they defeated the Cowboys 59-12.

The ‘Balers won 11 of the 14 matches, five coming by way of fall. In fact, with Salinas only compiling 12 team points, the ‘Balers technically put the dual out of reach in their first three weight classes – Zach Rodriguez at 125, Geo Coelho at 130 and Steven Borba at 135 – who all won their match by fall.

“We won all the close matches, all the matches they thought they were going to win,” coach Matt Olejnik said. “I was pleased. I thought we wrestled very aggressive and very hard.”

The Cowboys won two matches by decision, one by forfeit. Otherwise, the advantage pointed in favor of San Benito, who won the last seven matches of the night, three by forfeit.

In what was likely the best match of the night came in the final weight class at 119 pounds. Although it was impossible for Salinas to make up enough ground in team points at that time, Cowboy Ryan Block still put up a fight.

The Salinas wrestler jumped out to a 5-0 lead on San Benito’s Morris Stevens after one round. But the Hollister grappler quickly turned it around with a 3-point near-fall and a 2-point takedown in the second to cut Block’s lead to 6-5 heading to the third.

There, Stevens wrestled a takedown on Block, who trailed 7-6 with 12 seconds remaining and in the down position. All the Cowboy needed was a 1-point escape to tie the match up, but Stevens managed to hold on to his opponent, and even wrestled him to the mat one final time as the whistle blew on a tight 7-6 decision.

“Block is a pretty tough kid – a CCS qualifier,” Olejnik said. “But Morris is having a good season. He took it to the guy.”

Josh Ramirez at 152 pounds and Buddy Barraza at 215 both won their matches by fall over Kiel Martel and Eric Blaheman, respectively. Manny Tovar at 189 and Mike Soto at 112 each won their match by a major decision.

“They’ve got some good individuals on the team,” Olejnik said of Salinas. “They’re gonna place higher than 14th at CCS.”

The Haybalers made it a clean sweep of Salinas when the junior varsity and freshmen matmen each won their respective dual meets as well.

The frosh defeated the Cowboys 49-25, while the JV’s routed Salinas 67-9.

San Benito is off until next Wednesday when they’ll travel to Salinas for a three-way dual between Everett Alvarez and Alisal. The meet is slated for 5 p.m.

The freshmen and sophomores will head to Los Gatos for a tournament this weekend. The tourney will kick off Saturday at 9 a.m.

Varsity – 125 – SB, Z. Rodriguez def. N. Cerna, fall; 130 – SB, G. Coelho def. M. Acierto, fall; 135 – SB, S. Borba def. DJ Taylor, fall; 140 – SAL, D. Cerda def. J. Andrade, 6-1 dec.; 145 – SAL, S. McVannel def. C. Solis, 6-2 dec.; 152 – SB, J. Ramirez def. K. Martel, fall; 160 – SAL, R. Duran, forfeit; 171 – SB, F. Lucatero, forfeit; 189 – SB, M. Tovar def. E. Edeza, 9-0 maj. dec.; 215 – SB, B. Barraza def. E. Blaheman, fall; 275 – SB, K. Mueller, forfeit; 103 – SB, K. Salcedo, forfeit; 112 – SB, M. Soto def. J. Montgomery, 10-2 maj. dec.; 119 – SB, M. Stevens def. R. Block, 7-6 dec.

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