GLENDALE — As long as the La Cañada High wrestling team is within striking distance, Spartans Coach Gavin Williams feels he can relax a bit when a dual meet reaches the 170-pound weight class.
“That’s our strength, I’m confident once we get to the 70s, our guys are going to show up,” said Williams, whose team posted three victories in a row in the 170, 182 and 195-weight classes en route to a tightly-contested 45-31 victory in its Rio Hondo League finale at Hoover High on Tuesday.
The win locked up second place in league for La Cañada (4-1), which rebounded from a season-opening loss to champion San Marino (5-0) by rattling off wins in its final four meets. Williams said the team won’t apply for an at-large berth in CIF Southern Section Division VI Dual Meet Wrestling Championships, choosing instead to rest and heal for the CIF Individual Tournament.
“We’re not going to playoffs this year, this team’s too young — not ready,” he said.
La Cañada’s league finale, which started with the 120 match, had been back and forth from the beginning and featured five lead changes in the first eight matches.
Outside of victories at 126 and 132 early in the meet, which came on a forfeit and an Anthony Landeros’ pin respectively, the Spartans didn’t put consecutive wins together until Alex Bache (170), Lucas Drill (182) and Peter Garfield (195) each pinned their opponents.
Bache came out determined, took down Hoover’s Julian Talamontes 22 seconds into the match and held on for a pin with 33 ticks left in the first period to give La Cañada a 24-19 lead.
Drill found himself trailing Hoover’s David Reyes heading into the third period, but that didn’t matter after he pinned him with 1:03 left in the match.
Lastly, Garfield planted both shoulders of Hoover’s Joshua Lee 38 seconds into the second to push La Cañada’s advantage to 36-19.
“It definitely felt good to push our team further, especially since the score was getting closer,” Garfield said. “Honestly, at the beginning [of my match] I was a little anxious, but once I got into the groove of it I got confident and won. It went well and I think after that, our team really started to push until the end.”
After suffering a setback in the 220 match, the Spartans wrapped up the victory with a hard-fought pinfall from heavyweight Guillermo Padilla, which pushed the advantage to an insurmountable 42-25 lead with two matches left.
Padilla led by as many as 8-1 about 30 seconds into the third. Yet, he was taken down with 1:12 left before working a key reversal that led to the pin with 56 seconds remaining in the match.
La Cañada also received a pinfall victory from Mike Greenberg (152) and a decision, 7-2, win from Andrew Saraceda (113).
The Spartans now turn their attention to the Rio Hondo League Finals, which will be held Saturday at Monrovia High with wrestling starting about 10 a.m. Individual league champions and runners-up earn a trip to CIF Individuals.
“It’s in their hands, who shows up is going to be up to them,” Williams said. “They’ve got to put three good days of practice in to get out of league finals.”
Williams said to look out for his captains — Padilla, Landeros and Chris Skaggs (126) —and heavyweights at league finals and CIF this year.
“I still have a lot of things to work on in practice and on my own, but I feel pretty good [going into league finals],” Garfield said. “I feel I have a good shot at making it to CIF and a good shot at placing, but you never know — anything can happen.”