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WRESTLING: Santiago squeaks by Centennial

BY GABRIEL RIZK / STAFF WRITER

 

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.

€œIt 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 we’ve got to get leads in the first period; it’s very important.”

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.

€œWe had no idea that that would happen; we had no idea that we were going to win,€ Santiago€™s 152-pounder Jeremy Thomas said. €œIt€™s 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.