Hawks win second straight title
Tyler Takeda/The Madera Tribune
The Liberty Hawks wrestling team gathers in the Chowchilla Tribe gym after winning the North Sequoia League championship for the second straight season Friday.
CHOWCHILLA — By advancing eight wrestlers into the North Sequoia League championships, the Liberty Hawks wrestling team jumped out to an early lead and held on to win its second straight NSL championship.
Ryan Avila (126 pounds), David Portnoff (220 pounds) and Brad Wallace (285 pounds) won individual NSL championships Friday at Chowchilla High School to secure the title.
“This shows a lot about the boys, how tough they are and how excited they were to compete today,” head coach Jay Pumarejo said.
In addition, Eli McIntosh (120 pounds), Conner Hiatt (145 pounds), Jarred Dotson (152 pounds), Diego Rojas (182 pounds) and Sam Rauschenberg (195 pounds) each reached the championship match.
Also, Pumarejo had wrestlers sacrificing themselves to battle in different weight classes they weren’t used to, but helped the team get the win.
“We’ve been preaching brotherhood, selflessness and love all year,” Pumarejo said. “Those kids made sacrifices to make this team championship possible. This creates good momentum of hitting our goal of becoming Central Section champions.”
Spencer Gladders (106 pounds) and Anthony Salas (160 pounds) won their third place match. Meanwhile, Anthony Rocha (113 pounds), Zack Santoro (132 pounds), Josh Kerber (138 pounds) and Mitchell Sano (170 pounds) each placed fourth.
McIntosh fell behind early at 120 pounds and lost by a first period pin.
Avila made quick work of his opponent. He recorded a quick takedown and then put his opponent’s shoulders to the mat within 30 seconds for the win.
Hiatt couldn’t find any offense at 145 pounds. After a scoreless first round, he fell behind 2-0 after a reversal. He was called for an illegal hold and was reversed for a 5-0 loss.
Dotson looked to have his opponent under control. He quickly got a takedown and then started receiving near fall points. However, he was caught, was quickly reversed and pinned for the loss.
After a scoreless first period, Rojas fell behind 3-0 after an escape and takedown. He fell victim to another escape in the third period, but got a takedown late in the period, but couldn’t score any near fall points for a 4-2 loss.
Rauschenberg had a tough match at 195 pounds. He was called for stalling in the first period. He escaped a hold in the second period to tie the score. He tried to ride out his opponent in the third period, but he escaped his hold with about 15 seconds left in the match for a 2-1 decision.
Portnoff seemed to have control for most of his 222 pound match. He jumped out to a 6-2 lead after a trio of takedowns. His opponent got a takedown to open the second period, but Portnoff escaped the hold. Portnoff then got a takedown and worked it into a pin with two seconds left in the second period for the victory.
Wallace, outweighed by about 50 pounds in the heavyweight match, took a 2-0 lead with a takedown with about eight seconds left in the first. He got another takedown, a stalling call and another takedown for a 7-1 lead in the second. Wallace fell victim to a takedown in the third, but his opponent was called for an illegal hold. Wallace then escaped the hold and recorded a takedown for a 9-3 decision in the final match of the afternoon.