The Valencia wrestling team opened its season in style on Tuesday night, defeating Buena High School 57-27 in front of a raucous crowd at Valencia High School in the first dual meet of the year.
Wrestling at 138 pounds, sophomore Kyle Roth got things rolling for the Vikings in the very first match. Going neck-and-neck with Octavio Beltran of Buena in the first two periods, Roth was able to pin Beltran in the third period, giving Valencia an early 6-0 lead.
Roth’s victory by fall began a string of victories by fall for the Vikings, who didn’t allow the Bulldogs to register a point until the fifth match of the evening.
“Once we see that one of our teammates can get a fall it only inspires the next guy in the next match,” said senior captain Ben Gould. “Anyone can get pinned, you just have to catch them.”
“I thought it encouraged them. Gives them motivation and hypes them up and sets the mood,” Roth said about his pin.
Senior Javier Garcia continued the trend set forth by Roth, pinning Buena’s Zach Smithson in the third period of the 145 match.
Sophomore Trent Munoz, wrestling at 152, completed the trio of consecutive falls, pinning Aaron Velasquez in the third period and giving Valencia an 18-0 lead.
“It gets people excited. Gets them to know even though it’s early in the season we’re ready,” assistant and strength coach Neil Jones said about taking an early win. “We can take on any opponent and I think it gets them in the right frame of mind to go and do their best.”
Valencia won the fourth match by forfeit as Buena did not have a wrestler in the 160 class to go against senior Ajay Gupta.
Up next was senior Anthony Galvez, who wrestled against Michael Andrews at 170. The match was tight throughout with Galvez eventually losing 7-4 by decision and giving Buena its first points of the contest.
Buena used that momentum in the next match as Victor Ayala was able to pin freshman Keller O’Steen in the first period of the 182 showdown.
Valencia sophomore Max Begley, wrestling at 195, returned the favor in the very next match, pinning Jose Fuentes in the first period.
“It’s only going to get better and better because all these younger wrestlers will get better by the end of the year,” Gould said. “We’re going to have a stacked team. Everyone is going to be strong.”
Up next was Gould, who according to Jones, was wrestling above his normal weight class at 220 to get in some extra matches.
Jones expects him to wrestle at 195 in the coming weeks and then drop down to 182 near the end of the season and start of playoffs.
Despite the extra weight, Gould looked quick on the mat, getting the best of his opponent Nidal Farah in the first round by scoring 12 points to Farah’s five.
Gould ended things quickly in the second period, pinning Farah to give Valencia its fifth win by fall on the evening.
“Always push the offense. If you’re pushing the offense, he has no offense and you’re the one scoring the points,” Gould said. “If you make a mistake it’s your offense. You can keep on working and score the points instead of him working moves on you.”
The Vikings forfeited the next match as they did not have anyone wrestling at 285.
Both teams forfeited at 106 and Buena had to forfeit the 113 match with no one to face Valencia freshman Lucas Paschia.
Freshman Jake Quintana won his match at 120 by forfeit because Buena’s Rocco Fischetti couldn’t continue after sustaining an injury in the first period.
Senior Priscilla Ramirez, one of three girls on the team, wrestled at 126, losing to Buena’s Nathan Sbriglio by fall in the second period.
Freshman Shane Nepomuceno was the last to compete, going up against Cody Collins at 132. Nepomuceno lost 14-8, giving Buena the win by decision.
Next on the schedule, the Vikings will travel to Bishop Alemany for the Alemany Duals on Tuesday, Nov. 27.
While Gould and his teammates were excited about their start to the season, they know their work is only beginning.
“We have to go into practice and push hard and drive hard because next week against Alenany is going to be hard,” Gould said. “We all know that so we’re going to push our conditioning and push our stamina.”
Weigh-in is at 3:30 p.m. and the matches begin at 4:30 p.m.