Sylvester Alfaro knew before he took the mat for the 145-pound South Yosemite League championship match that the entire fate of the South High wrestling team's title hopes were riding on him.
That didn't unnerve Alfaro in the least. He went out and delivered a convincing 10-2 victory over Golden Valley's Edwardo Gonzales.
By virtue of that result, South won the SYL Championship Tournament, edging Golden Valley 205-196.
West was third with 116 points and Ridgeview, which won the three heaviest weight divisions, tied host Mira Monte for fourth with 97 points.
"I wasn't nervous," Alfaro said. "I just kept calm. I just really wanted this team win for me and my team."
By winning the league tournament, South tied Golden Valley for the SYL championship. The Bulldogs came into the tournament one point ahead of the Rebels in the championship standings after going 4-0 in SYL dual meets.
"It's exciting," South coach Brian Henderson said. "Our team is made up of a lot of kids who don't have much wrestling background at all. But they have a lot of heart. And they have that burning desire to win and compete and always do the best that they possibly can."
Golden Valley defeated South 33-30 when the schools faced each other in a dual meet two weeks ago. The Bulldogs also beat the Rebels by three points in an early season head-to-head meeting as part of the Rebel Classic, held in Lancaster.
"They did a great job," Golden Valley coach Aaron Wherry said of his Bulldogs. "They got up a level for all of their duals. They really wrestled tough and we defeated everybody head-to-head. And that's what's important to me. Head-to-head we're the best team and we proved that."
None of the regular season stuff mattered much on Friday as South had five wrestlers win gold medals. That was two more than Golden Valley. Both teams sent 10 competitors to the finals. No other school had more than three wrestlers reach the championship round.
Jovan Daniels got South rolling early in final round by beating Xavier Salas of Mira Monte 8-1 for the 113-pound title.
"We worked hard all year for it and I'm happy to see our dreams come true," Daniels said.
Not long after Daniels' big win, the Rebels had three more wrestlers, Kyle Simon (126 pounds), Jovan Carrillo (132), and Isaiah Mireles (170), win championships.
But it wasn't until Alfaro downed Gonzales that South could celebrate its second straight SYL title.
Things were so close going into that match that had Gonzales beat Alfaro, Golden Valley would have won the tournament and not had to share its first league wrestling championship.
Overall, Golden Valley went 3-7 in the finals. Daniel Cordova (120), Eddie Lopez (152), and Julio Fuentes earned first-place finishes for the Bulldogs
All three did it in dominating fashion though.
Cordova and Lopez both pinned their finals' opponent, while Fuentes racked up a 13-2 major decision to earn a spot atop of awards podium.
"It feels great because last year I came in second (place)," Lopez said. "But I worked really hard and our coaches really pushed us really hard to make sure that we're successful and that happened today."
Arguably the most exciting match of the round was at 140 pounds, where Erik Alcala of Mira Monte bested South's Phelan Jones 13-10.
The two took turns gaining the upper hand then losing it after scoring back points
"At first, I felt like, OK, it seems like I got this," Alcala said. "But then I just kind of like wore away. But then I started thinking, you know what? This is my last match. I have to win this for my team but also for myself and my family."
Unlike Alcala, Alfaro took control of his final's match early and never relinquished it.
"We told him he had to win this match and he did his job," Henderson said.