GRANGER — Not having a heavyweight to contest Zillah’s Jeremiah Atkins appeared to put Granger’s wrestling team in a tight spot Thursday night.
Yielding that forfeit with just three matches remaining put the top-ranked Spartans in a 28-21 hole in their annual showdown for the SCAC West dual-meet championship.
But with Granger’s tradition of having stout lower weights in full force this season, coupled with Zillah’s rare thinness in that area, the Spartans had plenty of time to rally for a 39-28 victory on their home mat.
Rolando Guzman and Ricky Almaguer put Granger ahead with back-to-back forfeits at 106 and 113, respectively, and Victor Almaguer finished the 18-0 closing run with a 16-second pin at 120. Almaguer improved to 21-1.
“Overall we won where we were hoping to win, and we had some guys who lost but kept points off the board for Zillah,” said Granger coach Ruben Saldivar. “A league championship is always one of our big goals so the guys are pretty excited.”
With the formalities of the forfeits and Almaguer coming up, the match that essentially sealed Granger’s win, according to Saldivar, was Abidan Duarte’s first-period pin at 220.
“That was big,” the coach said. “If that had gone the other way Zillah would’ve got us by a point.”
Another big win for the Spartans came at 138 where, in a duel of state-medalist veterans, Adrian Guerrero edged Zillah’s Jessy Gonzales 2-1. Guerrero recorded his decisive takedown in the second period.
Starting with two-time state champion Joshua Salcedo earning a technical fall at 126, Granger won the first three matches to open a 12-0 lead. Salcedo, who hasn’t lost since his freshman year, pushed his senior record to 12-0.
But fifth-ranked Zillah responded with its middleweight strength, winning five of the next six matches to forge a 22-15 lead. Cortes Hernandez improved to 29-4 with a major decision at 145, and Shane McMurray earned a hard-fought 2-0 victory over Abel Morales at 160 to run his season record to 31-3.
After Luis Ochoa’s win at 195 opened the 22-15 lead for the Leopards, Duarte responded with his fall at 220. He improved to 24-4 and closed within three victories of 100 career wins.
Granger won last year’s clash for the league title, 36-25.
The SCAC West district tournament will be held Feb. 2 at Highland.
GRANGER 39, ZILLAH 28
126: Joshua Salcedo (G) tf. Kasey Johnson, 15-0. 132: Adrian Morales (G) md. Joseph St. George, 10-1. 138: Adrian Guerrero (G) d. Jessy Gonzales, 2-1. 145: Cortes Hernandez (Z) md. Jonah Macias, 15-1. 152: Christian Francisco (Z) d. Juan Sandoval, 5-2 (2OT). 160: Shane McMurray (Z) d. Abel Morales, 2-0. 170: David Cantu (G) d. Chris Warford, 6-4. 182: Laraso Ochoa (Z) p. David Alegria, 4:19. 195: Luis Ochoa (Z) p. Eli Galeno, 2:45. 220: Abidan Duarte (G) p. Alex Diaz, 1:19. 285: Jeremiah Atkins (Z) won by forfeit. 106: Rolando Guzman (G) won by forfeit. 113: Ricky Almaguer (G) won by forfeit. 120: Victor Almaguer (G) p. Derek Soto, :16.