By RICHARD J. MARCUS
FOR THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
PETALUMA — The visiting Ukiah wrestling team finished its North Bay League dual-meet season with a strong showing against Casa Grande at the Petaluma National Guard Armory on Wednesday night, and it was the Wildcats’ hips that were the key to their 58-16 victory.
“Ukiah (6-1) is pretty solid. Tonight was the battle of the hips and Ukiah won that battle,” Casa Grande (1-6) coach Louis Chavez said.
“Ukiah controlled their hips really well and put us on our backs,” he added.
Ukiah finishes the NBL dual-meet season in second place; its only loss was to Windsor.
The Jaguars won the NBL dual-meet season with a perfect 7-0 record, capped off on Tuesday night with a home win over Rancho Cotate. Maria Carrillo beat Montgomery on Wednesday to finish third at 5-2.
Ukiah coach Gary Cavender said he wasn’t satisfied with finishing second.
“Second place is first place for losers. Some people are happy with second place, but our kids worked hard enough to finish first,” Cavender said. “Windsor is at the top of its game; we respect them a lot. They are tough to beat, but we are going to give them the fight of their life.”
The Wildcats will go up against Windsor and other select teams this weekend at the North Coast Section dual meets at El Molino. Two weekends from now, Ukiah will host the NBL tournament featuring all eight league teams. Ukiah will likely have another shot to beat Windsor in the NBL tournament.
Meanwhile, Casa Grande wraps up its NBL dual meet season in seventh place, ahead of winless Santa Rosa.
“Overall I’m OK with the season,” Chavez said. “I’m not too disappointed with it because we have a lot of potential.”
It was senior night for the Gauchos but, disappointingly for them, all five seniors — Ian Bailey, Dylan Smith, David Enriquez, Michael Nelson and Sean O’Brien (the Gauchos top wrestler) — lost their individual matches.
“That’s part of wrestling,” Chavez said. “You can be a stud but it only takes one guy to be better than you and tonight Ukiah was better.”
Of the 14 scheduled individual matches, four were forfeited. Casa Grande forfeited three matches (160, 170, 285 pounds) and Ukiah one match (113).
Casa Grande led 10-0 after Ryan Mishler won a decision (10-0) over the Wildcats’ Dakota Perez and Ukiah forfeited the 113-pound match.
After that, however, Ukiah won the next 10 individual matches to easily win the team match.
“Once we got going we got momentum,” Cavender said.