West pins East to win city wrestling showdown
Dec. 7, 2011 at 6:07 a.m.
On a night when only fools would not have worn jackets, the one Travis Barr wore highlighted the uniqueness of Tuesday's wrestling match.
The Victoria East senior sported his gray and blue Memorial letterman jacket after winning his match in the 195-pound category over West's David Artiaga with 30 seconds left in overtime.
Barr and Artiaga have wrestled against each other since they were freshmen, first as teammates, now as competitors at Victoria's two high schools.
For all involved, the thought of the Titans and Warriors meeting in the circle Tuesday was "weird" - as West's Lorraina Moses described - because both are coached by Fred Mease and they routinely practice against each other.
"Last year everything was a love fest," Moses said. "This year it was strict, and we were more mature. It was like 'You're my friend, but I am still going to beat you.'"
The typically demonstrative Mease told himself for several days that he needed to keep his mouth closed, clap at the end of the match and congratulate both wrestlers "because they are both mine."
West won the boys match 40-18 thanks to pins from Clay Mullins, Caleb Garcis, Baxter Bradicich, Jacob Ledbetter and Kyle Frers. East's Tatiana Thomas pinned Julie Sanchez 33 seconds into the third round in the only girls match between the teams.
"When you have an outside team, you have a mindset that they are the enemy," Barr said. "When you are wrestling people you practice with every day, it's hard. You have to set that to the side. It's a whole different wrestling match."
For his part, Mease sat in a folding chair 10 feet away from the circle, stoically witnessing the action, when he was not chronicling notes on each wrestler that would be used to provide either compliments or constructive criticism in the future.
"I thought everyone wrestled really well. I told them 'You need to bring your "A" game. This is Victoria wrestling. We need to go out and show everyone what we can do'" Mease said.
"Even though we practice with each other every day and a lot of times they know each other's quirks and moves. The intent was for everyone to go out there and to win."
The back and forth opening match between East's Michael Pena and West's John Garcia at 120 pounds set the tone for rest of the night.
The pair were tied twice, before Pena took a 6-4 lead early in the third round. Pena and Garcia both scored in the final 30 seconds of the three-round match, but Pena wound up winning 8-6 in a match that went to the final seconds.
Mease said he did not know what to expect from some of his younger wrestlers entering Tuesday. However, the 145-pound match between Bradicich and Bem Wright, as well as the 126-pound match between Mullino and East's Joey Driscoll stood out for their competitiveness and the maturity of the wrestlers.
Mease's neutrality meant the upperclassmen at both schools took a more active role instructing their teammates during their matches. West, with the larger team, had more mini-Meases in its midst.
Bradicich said his senior teammates helped him pin Wright with 5.24 seconds remaining in overtime. The sophomore competing in his first year of organized wrestling said in the adrenaline rush he sometimes forgets his technique. Tuesday, Bradicich's said teammates Morgan Moses and Caleb Garcis helped him refocus, and he credited both for his win.
"All the seniors have earned respect," Bradicich said. "If they tell us to do something I trust them to do what's best for the team. I trust them like I trust Coach."
120 lbs. Michael Pena (Victoria East) def. John Garcia (Victoria West) by decision 8-6.
126 lbs. Clay Mullins (Victoria West) def. Joey Driscoll (Victoria East) by pin with :30 of second period.
132 lbs. Caleb Garcis (Victoria West) def. Eric McMullen (Victoria East) by pin with 1:33 of second period.
145 lbs. Baxter Bradicich (Victoria West) def. Ben Wright (Victoria East) by pin with 5.2 of second period.
152 lbs. Jacob Ledbetter (Victoria West) def. Cristian Longoria (Victoria East) by pin with 51 of first period.
195 lbs. Travis Barr (Victoria East) def. David Artiaga (Victoria West) by decision 5-3 in overtime.
220 lbs. Kyle Frers (Victoria West) def. Ethan Castilo (Victoria East) by pin with 1:08 of first period.
128 lbs. Tatiana Thomas (Victoria East) def. Julie Sanchez (Victoria West) by pin with 1:27 third period.