Even with several of its key wrestlers competing elsewhere, the standard didn't change for the Bakersfield wrestling team at the Kern County Invitational.
Trailing North by 10 points entering Saturday's final round, Driller wrestlers went 4-1 in championship matches to rally for a win at the two-day event held at Centennial High School.
The Drillers finished with a score of 224.5. North took second with 219 points, while Centennial was third with a 185.
In the second match of the day, Gus Valdovinos got BHS off to a great start, dominating Jarred Dotson of Liberty Madera from the start en route to a tech fall win at 152 pounds.
"I felt that we needed to come off strong and dominant," Valdovinos said of his match. "I thought that would lead us to our victory."
Teammate Ryan Bonner kept things going two matches later with a 10-5 win over Ricardo Eaton of East at 170.
Heavyweight Manny Villanueva and 106-pound wrestler Johnny Becerra then capped the strong day. Villanueva pinned Foothill's Isaiah Elisea 51 seconds into the second period, while Becerra topped Liberty's Jakob Nagatani 4-0.
Even with many of the team's top wrestlers competing in the Battle For the Belt tournament in Temecula, the Drillers who stayed to compete in town said there was no excuse not to leave with a victory.
"It's a team effort," Villanueva said. "We're going to compete even if we don't have the key guys. They're down there trying to do their job, and the next man has to step up and do their job here."
The Drillers' only championship round loss came courtesy of East's Jonathan Patino, who pinned Luke Meyer 32 seconds into the 182 final. It was the fourth pin of a 4-0 weekend for Patino, who earned the Most Valuable Wrestler award for the Upper Weights division.
"It feels great," he said of the MVW honors. "It's my first time and I like it a lot. It's special and I'm grateful to be able to step on the mat and wrestle and do me."
It wasn't the first MVW run for Foothill's Shane Corona, who won the Lower Weights crown following a 3-0 win over Kalob Lopez of North in the 120 final. Corona was the Most Valuable Wrestler at 113 during last season's tournament.
"It's surprising," he said of winning at a higher weight class. "I didn't think I was going to be able to pull it off this time. But I did."
In one of the more memorable matches of the day, Golden Valley's Everardo Rueda overcame a persistent bloody nose to earn a 7-5 win over Zack Santoro of Liberty Madera at 132.
The match had to be delayed several times to deal with Rueda's blood loss, and it only stopped after a bandage was wrapped completely around his face.
"It was rubbing against my nose and it was hard to breath," Rueda said. "It was really difficult to wrestle like that. After I got it on it sucked, but after about 10 seconds I got used to it."
Other local champions
• Ashton Onsurez of Centennial pinned Derrek Alcantar of Frontier 55 seconds into the 113 final.
• Elijah Gutierrez of Ridgeview earned a 15-8 win over North's Anthony Ornelaz in the 126 final.
• Valentin Marin of Arvin beat Luke Combs of Frontier 10-5 in the 138 final
• Xavier Reyes of Mira Monte pinned Frontier's Jeremiah Barajas in the second period of the 160 final.
• Ty Shepherd of Frontier pinned Jacob West of Centennial in 1:15 at 220.