SHAFTER -- It was a Hollywood ending, but not a happy one for the Wasco wrestling team at the Sierra/Sequoia Divisional wrestling championships on Saturday night at Shafter High.
Just seven seconds away from winning their first-ever section title in wrestling, the Tigers' Garret Johnson was given a second stalling warning that cost him a point, sending his heavyweight championship match to overtime where he eventually lost 4-2 to Selma's Joey Alvarez.
That result proved to be the difference as Selma eked out a 221-215 victory over Wasco, which would have won the meet by two points had Johnson prevailed.
"I am proud of Garret," Wasco coach Juan Gallardo said. "Garret is a great young man. I hope my freshmen and sophomores learn from this situation. We were seven seconds away. We have to keep wrestling."
Fresno-Washington scored 192.5 points to finish third. Dos Palos (181 points) was fourth followed by Firebaugh (180), Corcoran (141.5), Mendota (128), Caruthers (126.5), Dinuba (122) and Kingsburg (120.5).
Wasco and Selma each sent five wrestlers to the finals, which began with the Tigers trailing the Bears 199-195.
Knowing that it was going to need every point, Wasco stayed on Selma's heels as the finals progressed, garnering early-round wins by brothers Isaiah Hokit (113 pounds) and Josh Hokit (126).
But the Bears did all they could to keep the Tigers at bay, pulling out final-round victories at 106 pounds (Chris Cisneros), 138 pounds (Ralph Pena), 145 pounds (Bryce Nutt) and 152 pounds (Ryan Escalera).
With Selma going 4-0 in the finals heading into the upper weight divisions, Wasco needed to have its final three wrestlers Jose Robledo (182), Sean Medley (220) and Johnson win out for the Tigers to win the meet.
Robledo, ranked No. 9 in the Central Section by the California Wrestler, did his part claiming a thrilling 1-0 victory against No. 7 ranked Juan Jimenez of Dos Palos.
"I gave it all I got," Robledo said. "I've been working on this since last year. This was my goal this year; win a valley championship and I completed it."
Two matches later, Medley -- the state's top-ranked 220-pounder -- lived up to his billing by pinning Mendota's Chris Figueroa with 45.1 seconds left in the second period.
That set the stage for the winner-take-all showdown between Johnson and Alvarez.
Following a scoreless first two minutes, Johnson began the second period in the down position. After expending a great deal of effort, the Wasco heavyweight was able to score a two-point reversal with 28 seconds left in the round.
But early in the final period Alvarez got an escape to make 2-1.
That remained the score until Johnson, who received a stalling warning with 1:02 left in the third period, got another one just seven seconds from the scheduled end of the match when he went out of bounds after being pushed by Alvarez.
In the overtime, the two wrestlers stood face-to-face, leaning on each other until Johnson decided to shoot for a takedown. He initially got ahold of one of Alvarez's legs, but lost it. That allowed the Selma sophomore to get control and earn two points for a match-ending takedown.
"It's hard to wrestle a guy that is just pushing you and stalling the whole match and you have to be the one with the action, taking the shots," Johnson said. "I wrestled a good match. The refereeing was a little odd there."
Even with the setback, Johnson will compete in next week's Central Section Masters Championships in Visalia.
The top four wrestlers in each weight division out of the Sierra/Sequoia Divisional Championships qualify for that meet.
But unlike in past years, Sierra/Sequoia No. 1 seeds aren't guaranteed a spot at the state meet just by making weight at the Masters tournament.
However, at least one wrestler in every weight class from the Sierra/Sequoia Division will move on to the State meet at Rabobank Arena on March 1 and 2.
Isaiah Hokit, who like Medley took fourth place at the state meet last year, went 4-0 with four pins during the two-day division championships.
Wanting to earn bonus points, he pinned Fresno-Washington Union's Roberto Jimenez with 1:10 left in their 113-pound championship bout.
"The guy was just trying to keep me from pinning him," Isaiah Hokit said. "But you got to wrestle through it."
Medley, the tournament's Most Outstanding Upper Weight Wrestler, took home a third straight section title on the strength of pinning all three of his opponents.
"I was happy with the way I wrestled because coach told me (before the 220-pound final) that I needed to go out there and get a pin in order for us to win as a team," Medley said. "I went out there. I did my part. I tried to get everyone in the stands fired up...Unfortunately things didn't fall our way."
Despite coming up just short on Saturday Wasco has several goals left to achieve over the final few weeks of the season.
"It's disappointing but we have bigger goals than just winning this tournament," Gallardo said. "We want to place top-10 at Masters and top-10 in the state."