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Hawks win thriller
Wednesday's Valley Oak League dual wrestling meet between crosstown rivals Ceres High and Central Valley hinged on the outcome of the evening's final match.

Justin Lomeli and the Hawks edged out Curtis Hulstine and the Bulldogs 37-33 at Phil de la Porte Gymnasium.

"We pulled it off," Lomeli said. "To beat them my senior year feels really good. We were expecting to win last year. But we came out cocky and lost."

Lomeli bested Hulstine in dramatic fashion in the 112-pound division. Scoreless through the first two periods, Lomeli earned one point for an escape and two for a takedown in the third and decisive round.

"He got a little tired and sloppy and I took advantage of that," Lomeli said. "Curtis is a good wrestler. He was a lot stronger than I thought he'd be."

Said Bulldogs head coach Jon Nowicki: "Curtis is a first-year wrestler. Justin's a senior. His experience in winning a lot of close matches really helped him. Curtis didn't take what was there."

Added sophomore Hulstine: "I was just going for one shot. I should have tried something different."

Lomeli was mobbed by his teammates moments after he capped off the highly-anticipated showdown with an exhilarating victory. Justin, who came through when it mattered the most, was hoisted in the air by Anthony Martinez and Louis Bracamonte.

"I was really nervous (before the match)," Lomeli said. "All of the guys said it was up to me. I pulled it off."

With the win, Central Valley improved to 1-4 in the VOL. Ceres High dropped to 2-4 in the conference standings.

"I knew it was going to be close," Nowicki said. "It just depended on a couple of key matches. It just didn't work out for us. We wrestled hard but were a little sloppy."

Central Valley won eight of 14 matches against Ceres High.

Freshman Adrian Santana opened the dual meet with a forfeit win at 119 pounds.

Ahead 13-6 on the scorecard, Hawks senior Michael Tubera pinned Bulldogs sophomore Keegan Overbey with one minute remaining in the third period of their 125-pound match.

Freshman Jaime Lomeli lost by pin with 1:17 remaining in the second round to senior Rigo Guerra at 130 pounds.

The Hawks surrendered a win by forfeit to Ceres High senior Dustin Espinoza at 135 pounds.

Junior Victor Tubera won by pin over sophomore Shawn Amirfar with 1:23 remaining in the first round at 140 pounds.

Central Valley's second forfeit loss came at 145 pounds. Bulldogs sophomore Erik Eisenbeis was awarded the victory.

Senior Louis Bracamonte won by decision (9-5) over sophomore Tony Spinella at 152 pounds.

Senior Carlos Gonzalez lost by decision (5-4) to senior Tony Chavez in a 160-pound tilt that was delayed for several minutes due to a power outage. Gonzalez trailed 2-0 at the end of the first round. The score was tied at 3-all heading into the third round.

Senior Anthony Martinez won a major decision (15-4) over sophomore Christian Moore at 171 pounds.

Freshman Josh Beckhart lost by pin with 1:44 left in the first round to senior Steven Chavez at 189 pounds.

Junior Avi Garcia won by decision (7-5) over senior Jess Gilmore at 215 pounds.

Senior Stephen Wade won by pin over Diego Garcia with 9.9 seconds left in the second round of their heavyweight match.

At 103 pounds, senior Marisol Gonzalez lost by pin with 17.4 seconds to go in the first round to sophomore Brian Naylor. The victory pulled Ceres High within one point, 34-33, heading into the evening's final bout.

Minutes after Tony Chavez and his teammates moved wrestling mats in the rain from Phil de la Porte Gym to the Bulldogs' practice facility, Ceres High's team leader talked about the devastating loss.

"I thought we'd put more pressure on them," said Chavez, who didn't show much emotion during the brief interview. "It's disappointing. Everybody could have worked a little harder."

Said Central Valley's Anthony Martinez: "This was the biggest match of the year because we're crosstown rivals. We had nothing to lose. Everybody wrestled their hearts out and was disciplined."

Not only did Central Valley spoil Ceres High's homecoming, the Hawks also dealt the Bulldogs a major blow in the VOL standings.

Had the Bulldogs beaten the Hawks, Ceres High would have moved one step closer to securing a winning record in league for the second straight season. The Bulldogs' final conference dual meet will be at 1-5 East Union on Jan. 29.

Central Valley and Ceres High will cross paths again at the VOL championships. Then there's the postseason. Hulstine might get another shot at Lomeli.

"We're definitely looking for big things from him (Curtis) in the future," Nowicki said. "He's a stud."