CORONA: Corona Santiago wrestling coach Paul Herrera called it the closest match he's ever been a part of.
In all likelihood, the Sharks Big VIII League win over crosstown rival Corona Centennial at home on Wednesday night was one of the closest duals ever played, anywhere.
After battling to a 31-31 tie in team points, the two teams deadlocked on four tiebreakers "coaching penalties, pins, majors, number of wins" before Santiago finally claimed the edge, and sole possession of first place in league, on the number of points scored in the opening rounds of individual matches.
It doesn't happen too often, said Herrera, whose team is the last unbeaten in league at 3-0. Craziest criteria I've ever been a part of. I forgot about our major, and I thought we were going to lose it on the fourth criteria. I tell our guys weâve got to get leads in the first period; itâs very important.â
Following heavyweight Keshawn Jones 3-1 win in the final match of the night that tied the team score, coaches from both sides huddled with officials near the scorers table, at one point even pulling out a CIF rule book to make sure they got it right.
Meanwhile, the raucous cheers from both teams packed rooting sections grew to a fever pitch as each side thought, or perhaps simply hoped, that it had won. The wrestlers waited in tense anticipation for the verdict.
We had no idea that that would happen; we had no idea that we were going to win, Santiagos 152-pounder Jeremy Thomas said. Its awesome; its just good to get this win again.
Santiago looked poised to put away a comfortable win when Adam Ogaz (170) gutted out a 3-2 win to put the Sharks up, 31-10 with just four matches left.
With no margin for error, the Huskies did what they needed to do to stay alive. Ray Pintea and Sergio Arellano notched back-to-back pins to draw Centennial (2-1 in league) within 31-22 and a forfeit in the 220-pound division put Jones and Centennial just three points away from the tie.
Quinton Williams led Jones, 1-0, going into the third period, but couldn't hold on.
Santiago began to pull away with Josh Kim's 10-5 win at 138. Dylan Wallace (145) kept Centennial within a pin of tying it when he picked up an 8-6 win, but Jeremy Thomas and Justin Thomas (160) each scored second-period pins to widen the gap back to double digits.