The last two times the Santa Barbara High boys wrestling team faced off against Dos Pueblos, it did not go well.
In the last two seasons, the Dons scored just nine points combined in the two matches against the class of the Channel League, the Chargers.
Wednesday, Santa Barbara didn’t just score more than nine points, it gave Dos Pueblos a challenge that the five-time back-to-back champs had to respond to.
Ultimately, the Chargers answered the call, earning a 45-30 win over the Dons at JR Richards Gymnasium to secure their sixth consecutive Channel League title after finishing the season 5-0.
“This is the tradition and culture they have and that (former head coach Anthony) Califano had created. It’s a great culture and my only goal was to keep it going” DP’s first-year coach Kenny Breaux said.
“This keeps that culture growing and a lot of our kids have stepped up that are first-year wrestlers and I think what helped them and what will help them is watching our seniors.”
Despite the loss for Santa Barbara, there is no doubt the program is on the rise. The Dons finished the season 3-2 in dual-league matches, its first season above .500 in a few years.
Additionally, the Dons showcased a lot of talent on the mat Wednesday, one that could prove to develop into a championship roster.
“Next year, we’re looking to get that score reversed. I think their hard work is going to pay off like it has this season,” Santa Barbara coach Adrian Macias said.
“The first time we only scored three points on them, the second time it was six points and now we scored 30 points so we can see the foundation for a program that hopefully can continue to build champions that mindset.”
Despite scoring just nine points the last two times it faced DP, the Santa Barbara wrestlers were not backing down from the challenge.
The night started with a bout in the 182 weight class between DP’s Emmanuel Golban and Santa Barbara’s Michael Esparza Loza.
The senior Don gave his best effort, but after a quick takedown by Golban, he quickly went to work and scored the Chargers first pin of the night. They would finish with three wins by fall on the night.
DP would earn its second pin in the next match with Aiden Jones defeating Jose Esteban by a first-round pin.
Santa Barbara would get on the board with a forfeit to pull back within six, then one of its seniors stepped up.
The Dons’ Jorge Contreras fought up a weight class on Wednesday, facing off against DP’s Ivan Medina.
Despite the difference in weight, Contreras more than made up for it with quickness and tenacity that allowed him to earn three takedowns and one near fall.
With it being senior night, Contreras wanted to finish his career with a statement win. The senior got it with a pin with just two seconds left in the third and final round.
“It was just like you’re in the zone and I didn’t know what was going on but I knew that, as long as he was on his back, I could just get it. I knew going in I couldn’t let him overpower me but after the match, it was a crazy feeling,” Contreras said.
“I was ready to go another two matches after that.
His win electrified the crowd and also tied the match up at 12-12.
“It was a really great win for me. For the whole team, it was a tough loss but compared to from last year when we had only six points scored on them and now we’re only 15 behind. For me, that’s a great improvement and just our entire program and our culture has changed,” Contreras said.
Being a wrestler for just the last two seasons, Contreras said he is proud of how far the program has come. Even though he knows he won’t be apart of it anymore, he hopes to see the team that can knock off DP soon.
“This feels good. I barely started wrestling and so for me, setting that foundation, making history, it just feels good because that means that other kids are going to come in and the whole culture about Santa Barbara’s gonna change,” Contreras said.
Contreras season is not over, however. The senior hopes to place at the Channel League finals on Feb. 8 at Lompoc High and then make it to CIF.
After Contreras’ win, DP re-took the lead with a forfeit.
Two pins, however, would put the Dons right back in front. First, Brandon Lazcano continued his dominant season with a pin in the first round with just eight seconds remaining.
Before the pin, the junior had already notched five takedowns.
Up next, Gabriel Jimenez took the mat for Santa Barbara, but for DP, it was a surprise wrestler.
Isabella Regalado, a girls wrestler, took the mat against Jimenez.
Breaux said Regalado has been asking him to wrestle her against a boy all year and Wednesday, the first-year man gave her the opportunity since DP was down a wrestler at the 120 division.
Regalado put up a valiant effort, but ultimately, was pinned in the second round. Even despite the loss, Regalado was impressive, staving off Jimenez from a first-round pin for a full minute on the ground.
“Even when I was second-guessing myself like ‘should I have put her out there,’ she stepped up. I wasn’t sure but she said ‘I want to wrestle, I want this opportunity,’ and I gave it to her,” Breaux said.
“And yeah, she took a loss but I think it is good for her. In general, just to humble herself and puts things in perspective. It keeps her hungry for league finals coming up.”
With Santa Barbara leading 24-18, DP would score the next 27 points to take a commanding 45-24 lead.
In that group, the Chargers senior Sean Yamasaki also picked up an impressive win over Oscar Munoz. The match went the full three rounds, with Yamasaki winning by points, 6-2. He has lost just three matches this season.
“It’s been pretty great. I’ve had a really good season and I’m really happy with where it’s at. I’m competing with those top tier kids and I want to continue working and if all goes well I’ll be up at a podium,” Yamasaki said.
The night ended with a pin by Santa Barbara’s Elias Graham.
On the girls side, the Chargers won 42-18, but in reality, only two matches took place.
First, DP picked up a win by pin, then Santa Barbara’s Jessica Urzua pinned DP’s Kelly Zamora in the third round with just 36 seconds left to pick up the win.
“Once I took her down and I was looking for that pin, I knew I had to take my time and make sure everything is tidy and steady so that she doesn’t get away. I was able to be strong and finish the win off,” Urzua said.
The DP girls finish the season 2-1 while the Santa Barbara girls finish 1-2.