SOUTH PASADENA — There was no panic from the La Canada High wrestling team after it saw the first three matches of Thursday's Rio Hondo League dual meet end with pins for South Pasadena.
The Spartans had the luxury of knowing 18 free points were coming their way, as the Tigers didn’t have wrestlers to fill the 152, 220 and heavyweight classes Thursday. With those forfeits, La Cañada had just enough to wrap up the 43-39 victory at home.
Lucas Drill secured the win for La Cañada (1-1) when he pinned South Pas’ Pablo Centeno 56 seconds into the 182-pound match. The Spartans pulled to within three, 33-30, with the pin and knew no matter what happened at 195 they had a victory with the Tigers forfeiting the last two matches.
“I just wanted to go out there, work my hardest and see what I can do,” Drill said. “I saw the opportunity and I took it. ... It felt really good to get that pin.”
La Cañada Coach Gavin Williams was in better spirits Thursday after being disappointed with his squad’s effort in a 44-25 loss to San Marino last week.
“It’s not even about the win, it’s the fight,” Williams said. “That’s what I want to see out of those guys — win or lose I want to see fight. ... We’re not back to where we’re going to be but we’re in the right direction.”
The Tigers showed plenty of fight of their own by keeping the match competitive until the very end, despite forfeiting three matches. Still, South Pas Coach Al Shuton was not content, saying a few of his wrestlers didn’t compete to their potential.
“We gave it a really good try,” said Shuton, whose team won head-to-head matches 7-4. “We knew we were going into this dual down, just like every other dual, which is fine with me. I don’t have a problem with losing a dual, but my issue is if the boys we have out there don’t wrestle the way they know they can.”
Perhaps the best example of fight came from La Cañada’s Anthony Landeros. The Spartans 132-pound senior may have lost his match to South Pasadena captain Charlie Barrone, 5-2, but did so after cutting six pounds from last week and reaggravated an injured shoulder Thursday.
Barrone’s decision victory pushed the Tigers advantage to 21-6 after they won the first three matches via pinfalls, but the Spartans began picking up steam from there.
La Cañada took a lead, 24-21, with a forfeit at 152 and quick pins from Rodrigo Torres (138) and Chris Harb (145), which came 56 and 63 seconds into their respective matches.
Blows were traded from that point on with South Pasadena getting hard-fought pins from Albert Estrada (160) and J.C. Limon (170) before Drill’s decisive win. Estrada’s fall came seven seconds before the end of the second period, while Limon capped off an impressive comeback over La Cañada’s Rick Lengua.
Lengua led 8-3 going into the third period before Limon got him on his back to start the final frame with a leg sweep and worked it to a pin with 1:39 to go.
South Pasadena (1-1) knew it needed to have a near perfect day on the mat to secure another league win and nearly had it. The Tigers lightweights — James Yun (106), Nick Min (113) and Angel Amaral (120) — got their team out to another blazing start Thursday, as each pinned their opponents to give South Pas an 18-0 advantage.
“It’s pretty important [to start fast] because our upper-weight classes are pretty much empty, so we need our lower-weight classes to win like every match to make up for that,” said Yun, who controlled his match the entire way before pinning his opponent 61 seconds into the second period. “We kind of expected the earlier matches to be all pins.”
Chris Skaggs got La Cañada on the board when he pinned Sam Benzoni of South Pas, which had its final pin from Aaron Refuoa (195) with 1:29 to go in the match.
“It’s good that we won but we could’ve done a little bit better,” Skaggs said. “I thought we were going to beat them by a little bit more. Some of the matches we lost we could’ve won, but it happens.”