Before the start of the championship round of the Division I Sunrise Region wrestling tournament, Green Valley coach Jon Ferry sat down with meet officials to double-check whether the team standings were correct.
“This thing could be decided by one point,” Ferry said, explaining his rationale.
He wasn’t far off.
Green Valley had four individual champions, and the Gators edged upstart Foothill by two points to win their fourth straight region title Saturday at Rancho.
Green Valley finished with 235 points, just ahead of the Falcons at 233. Liberty was third with 164.
The top three finishers in each weight class advance to the Division I state tournament Saturday at Star of the Desert Arena in Primm.
“I’ll tell you what. This is our fourth region title in a row, and it’s one I’ll never forget,” Ferry said. “We had a lot of individuals make team sacrifices that I will never forget. I’m so very proud of them.”
The Gators, who trailed Foothill by nine points heading into the final round of matches, went 2-1 head-to-head against Foothill in the finals. Green Valley’s Jared Brathor pinned Jacob Chavez in 2:45 at 132 pounds, and Donovan Peek earned his third straight region title with a 16-4 victory over the Falcons’ Steven Thomas at 160.
In addition, Green Valley’s Walley Zernich won the title at 106 when teammate Elyas Lizares defaulted, and the Gators’ Jesse Gabriel avoided a late takedown attempt by Rancho’s Kyle Penalosa to win 5-3 at 113.
“I thought Jesse Gabriel wrestled a great match,” Ferry said. “I think (Penalosa) is a very good wrestler, which says a lot about our guy.”
Foothill finished with two champions out of its seven finalists. Guillermo Rios scored a three-point near fall midway through the third period and held on to beat Randle Crowley of Coronado 5-3 at 138. Joshua Ozuna pinned Green Valley’s Logan Hughes in 36 seconds at 220 pounds, putting the Falcons in position to unseat Green Valley if Dylan Weasa was victorious over Basic’s Jotasem Funaki at 285 pounds.
With nearly everyone in the gym aware of what was at stake in the final match — Green Valley’s wrestlers even joined Basic’s cheering section in rooting for Funaki — the Wolves’ senior scored two takedowns and a three-point near fall in the first period en route to an 8-5 decision over Weasa.
“I’m extremely proud and happy with the result,” Foothill coach Ryan English said. “I think we woke up the angry bear, for sure. (Green Valley is) the one to beat, and we had them scared. We have nothing to be ashamed of.”
Liberty had three finalists, and each came away with a title. Jaylon Bates pulled off the biggest stunner of the tournament at 120 pounds, scoring a takedown with 30 seconds remaining to upset defending state champion Josh Temple of Green Valley, 10-8.
Michael Martinez pinned Albert Chavez of Foothill with 29.6 seconds left in the second period to win the 126-pound division. And Storm Roper landed a head-and-arm throw midway through the third period before pinning Silverado’s Alek Aragon with 41 seconds remaining at 145.
Antonio Jauregui won Las Vegas’ only title, getting a takedown with 50 seconds remaining to slip past Jeremiah Brewer of Green Valley 3-2 at 152. The Wildcats finished fourth as a team with 139 points.
Also, Antonio Alcala (170) and Roosevelt Smith (182) of Canyon Springs each won close decisions to finish first in their weight classes, and Tre’Quis Harris of Eldorado rolled at 195.
Contact reporter David Schoen at email@example.com or 702-387-5203. Follow him on Twitter: @DavidSchoenLVRJ.