Marcos Austin coaches his Bakersfield College wrestlers to draw out matches with strength and endurance. The way the team won Thursday night — with three first-round pins against East Los Angeles College — didn't exactly follow that blueprint.
"We condition for eight, 12, 15, 20 minutes," Austin said. "Each match, the goal is to drag them into deep water. So honestly, to me, being aggressive early and getting those early pins, it's a surprise to me too."
Each leading 2-0 after early takedowns, Jesus Navarrete at 165, Gracen Hayes at 174 and Jonathan Hunter at 184 pinned their ELAC opponents in the first round, contributing 18 points to BC's score as the Renegades held on to win 30-27.
It was a disappointing outcome for the Huskies, who had gained an 18-12 lead off hard-earned decision wins from Hector Ramirez at 149 and Josue Aguilar at 157.
"Everybody did their best, and I couldn't ask for more," ELAC coach Miguel Soto said. "We gave up three pins, that's not ideal, but we're still very early in the season. I'm proud of our performance."
The dual meet began with a double forfeit at 125 and forfeits by ELAC at 133 and BC at 141 to even the score at 12. The highest-scoring match of the evening followed, as Ever Bueda started strong with three first-round takedowns on Ramirez. The first round ran out before Ramirez could secure a third escape, keeping Bueda's lead at 6-2.
But Ramirez came back with a quick escape out of the defensive position and a takedown of his own. He then held Bueda down for 40 seconds until Bueda rolled out of bounds, before adding a third takedown as the second round expired. Ramirez built his lead further with points for stalling and riding time, ultimately winning 11-6.
The 157-pound class brought a key missed opportunity for the Renegades. Trailing 3-2 with 15 seconds left, Josiah Quiroz grabbed Aguilar's right leg, but couldn't pull off the right move to convert his momentary advantage into a score, and ELAC went up 18-12.
Only then did BC's onslaught begin, as Navarrete, Hayes and Hunter dominated their weight classes with three consecutive pins. The highlight came at 174, when Hayes got ahold of Damian Castillo's leg, used it to reel him back in from the boundary, and then converted it into an early takedown.
"Sometimes you're going to get caught on your back," Soto said, "and you gotta be able to fight off your back, I guess."
BC also forfeited the 197-pound class, meaning the Renegades led 30-24 entering the heavyweight clash between Nathan Ramos and Gracen's brother Corbin Hayes, and the Huskies would need a pin of their own to tie it up. Hayes kept Ramos at bay in a stagnant first round, but even with Ramos starting in the inferior position, Hayes surrendered a reversal to go down 2-0 and ended up losing 6-1. However, the Huskies earned only three points and lost 30-27.
BC is now 2-2 in duals on the year. With both teams' wrestlers competing in a tournament at Santa Ana on Saturday, Austin is optimistic about the Renegades' prospects.
"We gotta get as many matches as we can, we gotta keep each one of our wrestlers healthy," he said, "and I think once we have that in our back pocket, we have some confidence and we understand the plan of attack, it's only up from there."