Before Wednesday’s match against the San Marcos High boys wrestling team, Santa Barbara coach Adrian Macias told his team that “(Wednesday) was about us.”
“It’s about focusing on our personal growth. Losing doesn’t matter, it’s about paying attention to the process, working really hard and giving it their all,” Macias said.
The Dons certainly gave it their all Wednesday night at the Thunderhut, as they defeated the Royals 46-27 with four wrestlers winning by pin.
“It’s nice to see our guys, after losing the San Marcos twice previously the last few times we wrestled them, to come out and see their hard work pay off,” Macias said.
“That’s the best part, seeing that delayed gratification come through.”
San Marcos took an early 6-0 lead after Levi Cooper won by forfeit, but Santa Barbara (2-1) stormed back with a little run.
First, Brandon Lazcano got things going for the Dons. The junior, wrestling at 113, totaled six takedowns in the first period to take a 12-5 lead, then tallied two more takedowns and a five-second near fall to lead 19-6 after two periods.
Looking for the pin, Lazcano earned one more takedown, then won by technical fall to get his team five points.
“I train harder than all my opponents (in order to) tire them out. (My goal before any fight) is to score that first takedown and just tire them out,” Lazcano said.
Lazcano, aside from being dominant on Wednesday, is coming off a stellar performance at the Bash Tournament hosted by Pioneer Valley High in Santa Maria where he won the championship in the 107-pound weight class.
“(This) makes us happy because we work so hard. We know we work harder than them. I’m happy (with my win), I am just preparing for CIF and better opponents,” Lazcano said.
After Lazcano’s victory, the Dons took an 11-6 lead after winning the 120 weight class by forfeit.
At the 126 class, Benicio Garcia won by a near decision, giving Santa Barbara a 14-6 lead but San Marcos (1-2) rallied with a pin by Luis Sanchez in the next match to pull back within two.
After that, however, it became the Dons show. Back-to-back falls by Oscar Munoz and Logan O’Keefe put Santa Barbara in front, 26-12.
San Marcos won the next match after O’Keefe, but three straight wins and four victories in the final six sealed the contest in favor of the Dons.
Santa Barbara’s Jorge Contreras and Michael Esparza-Loza also earned victories by pin Wednesday.
Another highlight about Wednesday’s victory was the fact some younger wrestlers got their first chance to shine under the high school lights.
Elias Graham was one of those wrestlers and he earned a win in the 170 class, beating his opponent 8-1.
Nikolai Proft is another Don who got his first opportunity, although his match resulted in a loss.
Regardless, Macias was happy that not only did these two get their first opportunity but also at how hard they have worked to get to this moment.
“They all came up from the youth program that we started about five years ago so it’s nice to see that our youth program trickled into the high school program,” Macias said.
More important than the result on the mat, however, Macias said one of the team goals is always, “how can wrestling prepare you for life?”
“Everyone has different goals, some people join the sport to lose 10 pounds, some people never played a sport before,” Macias said.
Macias noted no matter what the goal may be, his job as a coach, as well as the job of the rest of his staff, is to meet with each player and help them come up with a plan to meet it.
As a team, however, the goal is a simple one for Santa Barbara as the season nears its conclusion in about a month.
“Our goal is eventually to be CIF champions and we understand the channel league is just a qualifier for the CIF pertaining duels (matches) and so we’re trying to lay the foundation for a championship program,” Macias said.
“We have 14 weight classes and hopefully we can get at least 8 to 10 (to CIF), but I’d like to take all 14 weight classes to CIF.”