Wrestling with an urgency that was lacking the night before, Central Valley got past rival University in front of a capacity crowd amid the pandemonium they call the Battle of the Bone.
The Bears showed grit by surviving precarious back-point situations and winning the matches they were supposed to for the 33-24 victory and a share of second place with the host Titans (both finishing the season with 7-2 records.)
“I told the kids this is more than a wrestling match, it’s an event,” said coach John Owen after his team bounced back from its drubbing by Mead to pull off the road win in front of 2,500-plus fans.
Pivotal early were matches at 126 and 132 pounds. Colton Orrino and Tyler Thelen had each wrestled a weight higher for most of the GSL season, but were at tournament weight and accounted for 10 points and a 13-0 advantage.
Thelen’s pin with 28 seconds left in the match was particularly significant.
University won three of four tossup contests to stay in touch, before CV won four straight matches down the stretch. But twice U-Hi had the Bears on their backs, scant millimeters from the mat, only to settle for decisions.
The match that sealed the win came late when sophomore 220-pounder Lowell Kovacovich came off his back twice for a 6-5 win over freshman Tanner Orndorff. Because they were at the edge of the mat both times, Orndorff was not awarded near-fall points.
Dan Schoultz pinned Kyle Cosby in a match between league unbeaten 285-pounders rendering moot U-Hi’s last two wins.
So what was the difference in Thursday night CV compared to Wednesday night CV?
“To think you could turn it around 24 hours later,” John Owen said. “When you have doubt whether you can win (as happened against Mead) you don’t wrestle your best. Tonight we felt we could we could win, and when you know that you wrestle your best.”
His brother, and Titans coach, Don Owen saw a grittier group of Bears wrestlers.
“CV wrestled well,” he said. “They went to their backs all year, but didn’t tonight. The difference was they won eight matches and we won six and we didn’t pin them.”