Alejandro Soto knows that as the final wrestler in Basic’s lineup, the Wolves’ fate in a dual meet can rest on his shoulders.
And that’s exactly what happened during Thursday.
With his team clinging to a three-point lead, Soto pinned Foothill senior Jake Broyles 1 minute, 37 seconds into the first period of their 285-pound match to clinch the visiting Wolves’ 39-30 win in the Southeast League opener for both teams.
“I was so nervous,” said Soto, a junior who improved to 15-7. “But, hey, I try, and I guess I got it. I’m really stoked right now. I don’t even know what to say.”
Soto gave up an early takedown to Broyles, who orally has committed to play football at Boise State. But he quickly scored a two-point reversal and then put Broyles on his back before securing the victory.
“In the very beginning, he took me down, and that’s when I got my head in the game,” Soto said. “Once I got position, I used the same move I always do, and it worked.”
Soto was in a similar position on Dec. 11 and came through with a pin that gave Basic (6-4, 1-0 Southeast) a 37-32 win over Centennial.
“He’s such a great competitor, he’s got a great attitude, and he’s a great kid,” Wolves coach Mark VanDamme said. “He does things that make a coach look good. He does things you can’t teach.
“He’s doing an outstanding job for us. We have so much confidence in him.”
While Soto’s pin locked up the match for Basic, it was two backups who provided the Wolves with a huge lift. Joschua Loftis (135 pounds) and Vince Maiella (140) each came through with pinfall wins after Basic’s regular 135- and 140-pound wrestlers were ineligible to compete due to the weight allowance rule.
“I thought we would win up to (145 pounds) and from (152) on it would be a battle,” Falcons coach Bill Smales said. “Getting pinned at (135) was a big swing in momentum there.
“I thought we didn’t get enough points at the lower weights … and giving up pins, we can’t give up pins.”
Foothill (4-5, 0-1) won four of the first five matches to grab an 18-6 lead before the Wolves rallied in the middle weights. Loftis, stepping in for Mark Bunkley, overcame a 5-2 deficit with a two-point reversal and a three-point near fall late in the second period. After Foothill’s Xavier Brown scored a two-point near fall to tie the match and send it to overtime, Loftis pinned Brown 23 seconds into the extra session.
Maiella filled in for Jaykeup Garcia and was tied 4-4 with Foothill’s Blair Ritchie heading into the third period. Maiella scored a two-point reversal to take a 6-4 lead and then pinned Ritchie with 25 seconds remaining in the match to tie the overall score at 18.
“Our backups stepped in for us and came through,” VanDamme said. “It was really huge the way it panned out for us. It’s great to come here and get a win.”
Basic’s Kelly Kofford overcame an injured right shoulder to hold on for a 12-8 win over Joey Biaggi at 152 pounds before Foothill’s Brian Matthews scored a 6-3 decision over Travis Tatiano that put the Falcons on top 24-21.
Basic was awarded a forfeit win at 171 and went up 33-24 when Marcellus Ortiz pinned Chris Waitkus 49 seconds into the second period at 189. Foothill’s Anthony Boschetti pinned Tavita Sheehan 2:17 into the 215-pound match to make it 33-30 and give the Falcons a shot, but Soto’s heroics sealed the win for Basic.
“We got beat at home, which is not good,” Smales said. “I’m a little disappointed in the way we wrestled. Basic wrestled well. Their kids stepped up.
“They wrestled hard, but we didn’t wrestle the way we’re capable of.”