It didn't even last long enough to be considered a nightmare, but Saturday night's 220-pound state wrestling final was very different from what Wasco High senior Sean Medley had envisioned.
Bloomington junior Derrick Jones pinned Medley in 47 seconds with two brutally effective moves, ending Medley's senior season at 46-2 and his dream of being a state wrestling champion.
"He caught me," Medley said. "There was nothing I could do. I guess it was a pretty good year to this point, but this, getting put on my back -- that's not what I dreamed."
As usual, Medley was aggressive from the opening whistle, pushing Jones backward and looking for one of his trademark throws. But when Medley tried the throw, Jones caught him leaning too far forward and seized control, throwing Medley to his back.
“Sean hit what he wanted, but the guy switched it on him,” Tigers coach Juan Gallardo said. “You could tell Sean wasn’t ready for that.”
The wrestlers landed out of bounds, but Jones had a takedown. Off the restart, he quickly locked up a cradle and pinned Medley before a stunned local crowd that had given Medley a deafening ovation before the match.
“This kid’s physical, but we knew all he had was that tough cradle,” Gallardo said. “We told Sean he had to look out for it, but I think he lost focus just for a second. That's all it takes.”
Jones has only been wrestling since his freshman year, far less than most state qualifiers. Medley, for instance, has been wrestling since elementary school.
“It’s my third year wrestling, but that’s getting my butt kicked every day,” Jones said. “My coaches demolished me in practice. They worked me up for this.”
After the match, Medley fell to his knees and buried his face in his hands. After shaking Jones’ hand, he sprinted underneath the stands in shock and disappointment.
“If we went 10 times, I think I’d win nine out of 10,” Medley said. “He didn’t show much except that cradle, so I didn’t want to get on bottom. And then he threw me. I guess that’s wrestling.”
Kern County’s other three semifinalists all lost in the final four: Wasco’s Isaiah Hokit to eventual champion Israel Saavedra of Modesto at 113; Coleman Hammond of Bakersfield to eventual champion Luke Wilson of Santa Maria-Righetti at 152 and Bakersfield’s Bryce Martin to Hesperia-Sultana’s Corey Griego. Hokit finished sixth, and both Hammond and Martin finished fourth at their respective weights.
Medley made it through to the finals, but for the second straight year, no Kern County wrestler could win a state title at one of the country’s toughest tournaments.
Both Gallardo and Medley felt if they had gotten Jones deep into the match, Medley could have used his superior experience and skill to win the match.
“We didn’t really get the opportunity to wrestle him, and that’s what’s disappointing,” Gallardo said. “But that’s the best part of wrestling; anything can happen."
From a wider perspective, Medley’s career was the best in Wasco history.
He finished fourth at 220 as a junior and was undefeated against all California competition through his semifinal match, in which he beat West Torrance’s Mat Boesen 5-3. That made him the first state finalist in Wasco school history.
“Wrestling doesn’t stop after this for him,” Gallardo said.
“This is just a stepping stone. He’ll wrestle in college. The kid has heart, and it’s sad as a coach to lose him.”