CHS WRESTLING: Stepping stones

Christopher's Johnny Cortes tries to keep a tight hold on

GILROY – Though they suffered a 43-37 defeat at the hands of
Monterey Bay League opponent Watsonville on Wednesday night, the
enthusiasm was there from start to finish in the first home league
dual meet at CHS.
GILROY – Wins do not normally come easy for first-year programs. Often times, losses can overshadow the progress and effort of a team building its foundation.

That is not the case for the Christopher High varsity wrestling team.

Though they suffered a 43-37 defeat at the hands of Monterey Bay League opponent Watsonville on Wednesday night, the enthusiasm was there from start to finish in the first home league dual meet at CHS.

The Cougars fought through the adversity of being down a couple of their regular wrestlers, forcing a handful of them to fight up in weight class. In the end, the experience of the Wildcatz stole two key matches that put enough room on the score board between the home team and themselves.

Down 21-15, the Cougars looked to be on the verge of tying the match, or at least cutting the deficit, as Manuel Avila maneuvered his way to a 9-7 lead with time winding down in the second period.

After Avila earned three points for a near-fall, a swift reversal by his counterpart Hector Medina seemed to catch Avila off guard, resulting in a momentum-swinging pin for the Wildcatz.

“That’s going to happen,” Lara said. “It’s experience. They are ahead in the score because they are wrestling their game, but then they are thrown something they have never seen before. It just throws them off. I’m proud of them though.”

Each team forfeited two matches, but the difference came as the weights increased. The undersized Cougars, who sent five freshmen and seven sophomores to the mat, were overmatched as the meet wore on.

“We had five wrestlers that went up in weight,” Lara said.

Anibal Manzano put the Cougars on the board in the 130-pound match, stunning his opponent with two quick reversals to secure a 4-0 decision.

“Coach kept telling me to shoot in,” the freshman said. “He almost had me but I slipped out of it. I’m learning much more about high school wrestling.”

Edgar Cuevas electrified the crowd with a first-period pin of Nathan Brown in the 140-pound match. Cuevas controlled the dual from the get go, and had his man’s shoulders to the ground midway through the first.

Stevie White capped the scoring for the Cougars with a pin just 56 seconds into the first period. White’s takedown of Saul Carrillo gave him the advantage, finishing him off moments later.

The Cougars are now 1-2 in league, their two losses coming against the top-two teams in the MBL, Monterey and Watsonville.

The Cougars still have a shot to finish in the top-three at the end of the regular season, and Lara thinks his team can make some noise in the league tournament at season’s end.

“After the first tournament we had, I knew they were ready to throw down and compete,” Lara said. “We can still place in the top-three, and depending on if we have high placers at the league tournament, we could finish top-two.”

The Cougars have five wrestlers, Manzano, White, John Riffle, Johnny Cortes and Daniel Perez, participating in this weekend’s 30th annual Mid-Cal Classic hosted by Gilroy High

CHS has three straight home dual meets to wrap up the season, starting with a visit from Monta Vista Christian on Wednesday.

The first match is scheduled for

7 p.m.

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