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February 2, 2023

San Benito finishes fourth after falling to Folsom

They say change is good, but the San Benito wrestling team was
hoping to keep everything just the way it was.
Competing at the fifth annual Silicon Valley Challenge Cup, the
Haybalers were well on their way toward the championship final of
the dual-meet tournament, a match they had wrestled in every year
since the tournament’s inception in 2004.
But after rifling off four straight wins, San Benito fell to
Folsom and Golden Valley in consecutive matches Friday to finish
fourth out of 28 teams.
San Jose

They say change is good, but the San Benito wrestling team was hoping to keep everything just the way it was.

Competing at the fifth annual Silicon Valley Challenge Cup, the Haybalers were well on their way toward the championship final of the dual-meet tournament, a match they had wrestled in every year since the tournament’s inception in 2004.

But after rifling off four straight wins, San Benito fell to Folsom and Golden Valley in consecutive matches Friday to finish fourth out of 28 teams.

The ‘Balers finished second in each of the first three years of the SVCC tournament, and entered this year as defending champions after beating Folsom in the finals last year.

However, the squad was bounced from their high standard after they fell to Folsom 39-34 at the San Jose Convention Center Friday, which forced the ‘Balers to the consolation match for the first time in the tournament’s short history.

“The difference in dual meets is getting pins and getting pinned,” coach Matt Olejnik said of the Folsom meet. “We had leads at 135 (pounds), at 130, at 112, at 160 – we’re winning all those matches and all those matches lost. Those things right there. It was a tough loss.”

The two-day tournament began with relative ease for San Benito, which cruised to victories over Aptos (67-6), Lincoln (72-3) and Saratoga (60-8) last Thursday.

On Friday, the Haybalers started their day with another resounding win, this time a 52-15 rout over Willits. But from there, things unfortunately went sour.

Folsom jumped out to a 21-0 lead in the semifinal match before San Benito’s Josh Ramirez put the ‘Balers on the board with a 10-2 major decision over his opponent.

Three consecutive falls later by Fernando Lucatero, Manny Tovar and Buddy Barraza cut Folsom’s lead to just 24-22, but the Sacramento school pulled ahead with a pair of pins of its own, brining up a crucial match at 112 pounds.

At 112, Junior Davilla and his opponent battled back and forth until the score was 10-10 with 27 seconds left and Davilla in control. But San Benito allowed the Folsom wrestler to escape, giving him one point and an 11-10 lead, in order for Davilla to score a two-point takedown.

“The guy was working to get his point … If he escapes with five seconds left, you lose the match anyway,” Olejnik said. “It gave you an opportunity to get the takedown and win … Give him the one (point) so now you have time to get the two.”

The plan unfortunately didn’t work to San Benito’s favor, and despite the ‘Balers winning the last two matches by fall (Morris Stevens) and forfeit, Folsom had just enough to squeeze out the win.

The loss put San Benito into the third- and fourth-place consolation match against Golden Valley. The match nearly went in San Benito’s favor, but it worked out rather well for the Cougars in the end, as Golden Valley held on for a 36-25 triumph.

After San Benito cut Golden Valley’s lead to five points, a deficit made possible after the Cougars were docked one point for unsportsmanlike conduct, the ‘Balers had a chance to either tie the dual with a technical fall or win it by pin in the last match.

But San Benito’s Geo Coelho was forced to go up against Golden Valley’s stud, Jack Anderson, who’s ranked No. 5 in the Sac-Joaquin Section, and is likely the best wrestler the Cougars have. Anderson would end up winning by fall.

“It couldn’t have worked out better for them in the end,” Olejnik said. “We had a tough loss (against Folsom) and we just didn’t wrestle that well. You come to these tournaments to win. The last two dual meets, we just didn’t wrestle as well as we could.

“We didn’t get pins where I thought we we’re getting a pin.”

San Benito will return to the mat on Wednesday when they open their Tri-County Athletic League season at home to Salinas. The junior varsity squad will square off at 5:30 p.m., and the varsity will follow.

JV Note: The San Benito junior varsity wrestling team has enjoyed a rather dominating season so far, adding plenty of high standings to their record.

On Dec. 15 at the Earthquake Duals in Hollister, the Haybalers took first place out of eight teams at the dual-meet tournament. They followed that performance with another first place finish, this time at the Terra Nova Shootout. San Benito earned the top spot out of 13 schools.

Last week, the ‘Balers took second out of 27 schools at the Cupertino Second Man invite. They finished behind St. Francis at the individually-bracketed tournament, a team they defeated at a dual-meet tournament earlier in the season.

“The kids have done a great job,” coach Randy Logue said.

After the ‘Balers battle Salinas Wednesday, they’ll compete at a frosh/soph tournament in Los Gatos this weekend.

Andrew Matheson
A staff member edited this provided article.

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