HOLIDAY CLASSIC: Grizzlies well on way to goal

After finishing sixth at last year’s Las Vegas Holiday Classic, Spring Valley wrestling coach Fred Meyer and his team set a goal to finish in the top five this season.

The Grizzlies are well on their way.

Ray Waters (170 pounds) and Silvano Villanueva (285) each won three matches by pin, and the Grizzlies racked up plenty of points in the consolation bracket, to sit in third place with 111 points after the first day of the tournament Friday at the Las Vegas Convention Center.

Victor Valley (Calif.) is first with 120 points, followed by Palo Verde at 116.

“They were really able to come back and put a good effort in,” Meyer said. “The entire team has been able to contribute to the cause.”

Waters breezed into Saturday’s quarterfinals, winning three matches in a total of 2 minutes, 40 seconds to lead the Grizzlies. He won by fall in 1:25 over Williams Matthew of Sultana (Calif.) in his final match of the day.

“I can’t underestimate anybody. I just have to go out there and wrestle hard,” Waters said. “You never know what’s going to happen; something could always happen and you lose. So I just go hard every time.”

Villanueva, who improved to 19-2 on the year, took a pin in 4:53 over Miguel Moreno of Brawley (Calif.) in his first match, then got pins over Foothill’s Joe Reid in 2:48 and Brent Morgan of Vista Murrieta (Calif.) in 3:12.

The Grizzlies also had several wrestlers advance after losing a match in the first two rounds.

“We’re still a work in progress,” Meyer said. “I told them earlier that if we placed top five at the end, I would be happy. Last year, we were in fifth the whole first day, and we took sixth.”

As one of two wrestlers still in the championship bracket, Waters knows Spring Valley needs him. But he also is confident the Grizzlies can exceed their goal.

“We’re doing pretty good. Our goal was to place in the top five, but we’re in the top five right now, so why not shoot for more?” Waters said. “We just have to have people come back tomorrow and win some matches. That’s what it will take: get a few kids on the podium.

“But we’re trying to win matches by February. This is just preparation for February.”

Jordon Hart (120), Billy Wosick (132) and Marcus Judd (182) picked up three pins apiece for Palo Verde.

Drew Fergison (106), Logan Strobeck (113) and  William Mason (220) each earned two pins for the Panthers, and Ryan Ratliff (195) also advanced to the quarterfinals.

Bobby Gallardo (132) and Brandon Fisher (195) each had three pins to lead eigth-place Shadow Ridge to 92 points.