Grit fuels wrestlers to consecutive wins at conference
Grit and toughness secured the wrestling team a victorious dual meet over New Mexico Highlands and Simpson University on Friday, Jan. 25 at The Swamp.
The Gators chomped through Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference opponent New Mexico Highlands University 26-15 to earn their first RMAC victory in the last four conference meets.
“It’s really important that you keep fighting, you don’t give up that major decision,” head coach Jason Welch said.
SF State jumped out to an early 7-0 lead thanks to redshirt senior Brandon Vu’s two-point decision victory and redshirt senior Jordan Gurrola’s 11-2 major decision victory.
Redshirt junior Joshua Villaflor was in danger of giving up the Gators’ first major decision, but fought his way back to a normal decision loss with a late third period takedown.
Villaflor’s efforts, although in a loss, prevented the Cowboys from scoring another point. The extra point mattered in the moment, but made little difference in the end.
The Gators racked up valuable bonus points, led by sophomore Maxamillian Schneider and junior Justin Pichedwatana’s tech falls, where they forced their matches to end by way of a 15-point rout.
Schneider and Pichedwatana’s efforts gave the Gators five points each and ensured a comfortable 11-point victory, even with a six-point forfeit in the 197-pound weight class.
The meet against Simpson University was much closer, and having two of the four forfeits in the meet, SF State needed all the bonus points it could get.
The Gators also sported a different lineup against the Red Hawks, switching out Villaflor for senior Christian Ramos and Schneider for freshman Justin Hansz.
Welch said that some of the wrestlers were rested against Simpson University to prepare for the 42nd Annual California Collegiate Open that the Gators hosted on Saturday, Jan. 26 at The Swamp.
Again, SF State jumped out to an early lead, when Vu blitzed Red Hawk freshman Sergio Montoya with an early second period 17-1 tech fall. Gurrola followed Vu and claimed his forfeit victory, propping the Gators to an 11-0 lead.
The lead was short-lived, as the Red Hawks stormed back to tie the score, led by junior Armand Molina’s 17-1 tech fall over SF State’s Christian Ramos at 141 pounds and a Gators forfeit at 149 pounds.
The Gators and the Red Hawks went on to trade pins, starting with Red Hawks’ senior Noah Marquez pinning Hansz. Hansz built himself a 10-2 lead, knocking on the door of a major decision, before being turned and pinned, losing out on six points.
Redshirt sophomore Kurtis Clem followed up Hansz’s performance with a dominating display, ending the match with a cradle pin.
After an Annual Tracy Borah Duals appearance on Saturday, Jan. 12, where he lost all three of his matches (two of them by pins), Clem needed to follow up with a strong day — and that he did.
“I was kind of struggling as of late,” he said. “In wrestling, you just gotta blow that aside. The wins come with the losses and that’s what makes this sport so great.”
The Red Hawks snatched the lead 26-23 by winning the next match and getting yet another forfeit awarded at 197 pounds.
Redshirt sophomore Kevin Henry moved up to wrestle in heavyweights for his second time in the meet and earned a decision victory over Simpson University junior Chris Borba, 7-1.
Henry and Borba both had difficulties setting up any kind of offense, but through multiple unnecessary roughness penalties by Borba and a late third-period takedown, Henry secured himself a victory.
The win tied the meet at 26 points apiece and the Gators were awarded a 29-27 criteria victory to finish out their day.
The now 6-8 Gators hosted the 42nd Annual California Collegiate Open on Saturday, Jan. 26, building upon Friday’s strong performance with a second place finish behind California Baptist University (NCAA D1).
SF State will take on Menlo College during senior night at The Swamp on SF State will take on Menlo College during senior night at The Swamp on Thursday, Feb. 7 at 7 p.m.