PREP WRESTLING: Bruins split PVL double dual at home
Special to The Union
A young and talented Bear River Bruins wrestling squad had a golden opportunity to nab the Pioneer Valley League title Thursday night at Jack R. McCrory Gymnasium.
Roaring out to a dominating start at PVL double dual, Bear River throttled Foothill for a 45-27 victory, but then surrendered an early lead versus Center and couldn’t overcome the more seasoned squad down the stretch as it fell, 43-33.
“My thing is, the guys that got pinned, the guys that lost are basically first year wrestlers and we went against (Center’s) four-year wrestlers,” said Bear River coach Jeff Danieli, who filled in for head coach Kevin Figueroa. “And there’s a couple guys that didn’t get pinned that went against four-year wrestlers, so we were in it probably all the way until that last heavyweight match and then that was it, but we win as a team, we lose as a team. We can’t just say it was one guy.”
Finishing in second in the PVL each of the last four years, the Bruins are so very close to getting over that hump and the team is showing improvement every time it hits the mat.
“Just believing in myself, listening to my coaches and having fun,” said junior Skylar Miller of the 120 pound class, who went 2-0 on the night with two pins, including one in the third round versus Foothill where his patience finally paid off. “It’s going to come one way or another you just got to wait til it opens up. Our team has been doing great this year. We’ve been working hard, pushing each other and tryimg to get better and better each and every day.”
Owning an early 18-6 advantage thanks to pins by Miller and Derek Warner (126), and a forfeit for Ashlyn Canizalez, the Bruins quickly lost their hold as the Cougars pounced and rallied for six straight wins to grab a 37-18 lead.
Not yet mathematically eliminated from the match, Bear River dug deep and mustered a rally of its own with a pin by Zach Arreguin and a gutsy three round 6-3 victory by Tyler Dzioba to cut the deficit to 37-27 with just two wrestlers remaining.
“Cardio, I don’t really have much of it, but just heart,” said a battled-tested Tyler Dzioba (220), who attributed his success to stamina and desire, beating each of his opponents Thursday, one by pin and the other by going the distance to keep his team in the match. “We’re a young team and we just went hard, wrestled hard. That’s it. Gameplans, last year I really never followed gameplans, the year before or ever really, but I guess cardio is number one and a little bit stronger too so that helps out.”
Needing to win both of its final matches, Bear River was only able to split and win one, a pin by Beau Spence, cutting the Bruins hopes just short of a sensational comeback.
“I’m proud of these guys,” added Danieli. “I’m super, super proud. I’m a little bummed for Ashlyn Canizalez because she’s one of our top wrestlers and they forfeited to her, the boys forfeited to her. You saw Center’s team of 40 guys and they couldn’t put one person out there for her.”
In the night’s first match, against the Mustangs, the Bruins opened a quick 30-0 lead after a couple forfeits and some stellar pins coming from Miller and Warner, who took his opponemt down and secured a win just seconds into the first period.
Jacob Vaughan later notched a pin in his 160 pound bout, followed by Gabe Ellis (170), who went the distance to earn a hard fought 7-5 victory. Dzioba later added a pin of his own to extend the match lead to 45-21.
The Bruins (3-1) wrap up their regular season Wednesday when they cross the river and take on rival Colfax, followed by the postseason beginning Feb 1.
Brian Shepard is a freelance sports writer who contributes to The Union regularly.
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