MENIFEE — Paloma Valley boys wrestling coach Luis Robles did not hesitate to answer in the affirmative when asked if this year’s team was the deepest in program history. Whether or not it is the best team, only time will tell, Robles said.
The Wildcats continued their sizzling start to the 2022-23 campaign with a convincing 63-16 victory over Servite in a nonleague dual-meet match Tuesday night. Paloma Valley won 11 of 14 matches, with nine of the wins coming om pins.
“I hate saying this early, but we are talented and blessed,” Robles said. “We have a great group of kids, and we are stretched out all the way up and down and have a lot of depth. The kids work hard and like wrestling for each other.”
Servite (1-2) grabbed the early lead as 160-pounder Robert Alanis scored an 18-5 major decision in the opening match.
Paloma Valley (4-0) prevailed in 10 of the next 11 matches to take complete control of the match.
Javon Major got the ball rolling for the Wildcats with a pinfall victory in the first period of the 170-pound match.
The 182-pound match was the tightest of the evening. Paloma Valley’s Daniel Diaz scored on takedowns in each of the first two periods and took a 4-2 lead into the final period. Servite’s Tyler McCown drew level after a takedown in the final minute of regulation. Diaz secured a sudden-death victory with a third takedown in the overtime period.
“I’m not going to lie, I was tired and I really had to use the bathroom,” Diaz said with a laugh. “I just knew if I didn’t hit that move, my coaches would not be happy. I just tried my best and fortunately was able to get that win.”
Benyamin Sohrab (195) and Simon Flores (220) registered quick pins in the to increase Paloma Valley’s lead to 21-4.
Oskar Madrigal temporarily stopped the bleeding for Servite with a pin in the opening period of the 285-pound match.
Darius Corcuera scored the fastest pin of the night, 25 seconds, to win at 106 pounds and bring the momentum back to Paloma Valley’s side. Uriel Cruz (113) won by walkover and the Wildcats’ lead was 33-10 with six matches remaining.
Paloma Valley’s Syruss Flores recorded a pin at the 1:03 mark of the 120-pound match, and Justin Brown clinched the victory for the Wildcats win another pin during the first period of the 126-pound match. Paloma Valley did not put its foot on the breaks, however, as Jake Barnes (132) and Cristian Mier (138) also secured victories by way of pins.
Servite’s Josh Valdez faced a 4-1 deficit during the first period of the 145-pound match, but he quickly turned the tables and scored nine consecutive points before pinning his opponent in the third period for the Friars’ third and final victory.
Elijah Benavidez capped the night for Paloma Valley with a pinfall win in the second period of the 152-pound match.
“I think our camaraderie and teamwork are very strong. We just come out here grinding and working hard every day,” Benavidez said. “The depth on this team is pretty crazy. We have so many guys who can go out and get the job done.”
Robles said the nine pinfall victories Tuesday night did not surprise him.
“We use a lot of different techniques, but our style in our room in to get pins whenever we can,” Robles said. “We’ve been known as pinners as long as I’ve been here… I think it dates even back before I got to Paloma Valley That’s who we are.”
Paloma Valley has never won a CIF Southern Section championship in a boys sports. Robles believes if the chips fall the right way for the Wildcats this season, that drought could come to an end.
“We are in tough CIF divisions in both duals and individuals,” Robles said. “I think we can compete for CIF titles, but a few things have to fall our way and we have to stay healthy. We want to bring that first CIF boys title here to Paloma Valley.”