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Jaimes wins important match, Raiders top Hawks
Leave it to a senior state champion to secure a win with a city championship on the line.
With Gila Ridge inching back against defending champion Cibola, Rafael Jaimes hung on for the clinching victory in a hard-fought bout against Nathan Mendivil.
Cibola claimed the title Wednesday in the second annual Yuma City Championship at Gila Ridge, dispatching the Hawks in the final match after both teams entered the day 3-0 with wins over Kofa, San Luis and Yuma High.
Thirteen of the 14 individual champions came from either Cibola or Gila Ridge, with the Hawks claiming seven solo titles despite losing the team title to the Raiders.
Jaimes said the team is taking the title in stride, instead focusing on sectionals next week and, most importantly, state in two weeks.
“Honestly, this is expected at Cibola,” Jaimes said. “We're gunning for bigger things, state which we have coming up.”
The Raiders won the first four bouts and led 18-0, but after Eddie Pena won by a pin at heavyweight, the Hawks closed to within 30-18 with three matches left. That's when Jaimes and Mendivil squared off at 103, and an early takedown was the only scoring Jaimes would need for the win and individual city title.
“Mendivil is a tough kid — you can't take any thing away from him,” said Cibola coach Mike Jankowski, whose team took home the trophy — a sledgehammer with “city champion” written on it in marker — for the second straight year. “Last time he wrestled him it was a 3-1 score. He's closing the gap. But Rafael is aiming toward a state title.”
Mendivil, a sophomore, got the escape after Jaimes' takedown. He started the second period on bottom, then Jaimes elected to start on the bottom in the third, but neither wrestler would score again.
“To see him at that caliber right now is really exciting for me,” King said. “To lose by a point to a state champ, to get him on his back and getting so close, it's exciting. It's hard for me to celebrate second, but for him I think he can use that and fuel himself real well.”
Even though the Raiders had the title in hand at that point, they lost the next two matches, including a heartbreaker for Andres Gandara at 113 against Austin Gerber. Gerber led 5-2 heading into the third and started on top. Gandara scored the reversal and got a two-point nearfall with 16 seconds left to take a 6-5 lead. As the match ended, Gerber was struggling to break free from Gandara. The main referee conferred with the backup and awarded the tying point for the escape to Gerber, who wasted little time in overtime to score a takedown and a three-point nearfall to take the city title from Gandara.
“The head ref has to take control. You can't let the backup ref take control of the match,” Jankowski said. “I'm not calling him out, I never say a bad word about him, but if you're the guy you take control. That's just the way it's always been. That's what I tell my guys. I go ‘You take control of the match. You don't let anyone else take control.'”
The other city champs for the Hawks were Darryl Lane at 120, Andy Meza at 152, Kevin Jumbeck at 160, Kainoa Renaud at 195, Mike Castro at 220 and Eddie Pena at heavyweight. Cibola's other city champs were Isaac Camarillo at 126, Luis Nunez at 132, Pablo Moreno at 138, Pierre Gaud at 145 and Ricardo Morales at 170.
“I talk to my kids about stepping-stones all the time, and a city championship would have been a nice stepping-stone,” King said. “But for a lot of these individuals, they're looking at sectional championship and state championships. To pull a victory away from some of those boys is huge.”
Yuma High's James Gomez was the other champ at 182, helping the Criminals take third. San Luis was fourth and Kofa was fifth.
Castro — who was the only undefeated wrestler heading into his match against Juan Padilla at 220 — had a tough go of it. He got an escape with 1:19 left in the third to tie things at two and was the beneficiary of a late stall by Padilla to get the win.
“Against the Cibola guy, I lost my first match earlier this year and ended up coming out victorious,” Castro said. “I wrestled last year for half a season, so this is pretty much my first year. So it feels good. I feel like I improved a lot.
“I felt he was getting tired and I still had some energy in me. So I figured I was going to get a stalling call or snap him down and get a pin. I would have rather had the pin, but any win is okay with me.”
Even though he said he'd rather have won a city title, King said he was pleased with how the Hawks performed.
“We lost to a tough team,” King said. “It's tough to see my boys do good things and still come up short. But I have nothing but respect for the Cibola wrestlers and their program. They work hard and it would make me nothing but happy to see a Division I state championship for them and a Division II state championship for me. I think that's great for Yuma wrestling. They make us better every time we wrestle them.”
And Jankowski said although his sights are set on a state title, it was nice to get a win against budding rival Gila Ridge.
“They're going to be top five in their division and we're aiming to be top dogs in our division. That's the way we talked about it all year — peaking at the state tournament. Not here, not at sectionals.
“My kids, we've been getting called out all year long. Gila Ridge has been calling us out all year long. We show up every single time they call us out, we're right there for them.”