EL CENTRO — In an Imperial Valley League duel that essentially matched skill versus will it was will that took home the league win as Holtville High beat Southwest High, 39-35, in an exciting back-and-fourth duel here Wednesday night.
“Wrestling is an individual sport but it’s a team sport as well … when you feed off one another in a duel like this you pick each other up and that’s what we did tonight to get the win,” Holtville head coach C.J. Johnston said.
The night started in the 170-pound weight class where Southwest’s Marcelo Felix pinned Braden Abatti to get the Eagles on the board first in a match that put a smile on the face of the Southwest head coach.
“Marcelo is a kid that has stuck by me through the post season and all of the offseason and the move he hit to win is something he learned this week,” said head coach Matt Suamataia. “He practiced it and was able to use it to score a clutch six points.”
The two teams traded pins over the next couple of matches to bring the duel to an 18-18 tie.
The Vikings, Ethan Hernandez put his team up 24-18 with a pin over Isaiah Torres in the 114-pound weight class.
Then Southwest looked to put some distance between them and their opponent as the Eagles more skilled wrestlers came to the mat to win the next three matches but only one of which coming by pin.
“The matches I thought were going to take were maybe taken for granted and ended up being the matches that were the deciding factor,” Suamataia said. “The young kids with the chip on their shoulders went out and earned those wins for Holtville.”
With the Eagles leading 31-24 they were the key matches indeed as Holtville won the next three matches to swing the momentum and the duel.
The first being a pin by Holtville’s Jack Grizzle over Joel Alvarez at 138 pounds.
“I knew I had to keep it upbeat, they were fast and good but just like them we were hungry for a win,” Grizzle said. “Overall I was happy to provide a win for my team to help us win this duel.”
Holtville scored 15 consecutive points to take a 39-31 lead into the last match clinching the IVL win.
“We had those two key wins but we also lost some matches to their studs but didn’t get pinned and I think we were abel to feed off that energy,” Johnston said. “Anytime you win it boosts confidence. We have been working over the break and they’ve responded well and stepped up tonight.”
It was a good day for the Holtville wrestling program but a reality check to Suamataia and the Eagles.
“Somehow I have to figure out how to instill some hear and teamwork in these kids, because right now they’re wrestling for themselves and their own glory not as a team,” Suamataia said. “It’s an individual sport first but when it comes down to competitions like this you have to have your team in mind.”