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JOSH BARBER , CONTRIBUTING PHOTOGRAPHER
Aliso Niguel's Sam Azar and Capistrano Valley's Richard Arriaga compete in their 170-pound match during a Sea View League dual meet at Capistrano Valley High School on Thursday.

Capistrano Valley pulls out victory over Aliso Niguel

STAFF WRITER

MISSION VIEJO – Senior leaders like to make a habit of stepping up in critical moments, and when Capistrano Valley’s wrestling team needed a momentum shift early in its dual against Aliso Niguel, Corey Shackleford came through.

With his team facing an early deficit, the 195-pound senior pinned Aliso Niguel’s Rustin Agahi to give the Cougars a lead they wouldn’t relinquish, leading to a 43-22 victory Thursday at Capistrano Valley High.

Shackleford needed just 1:25 to finish Agahi and put the Cougars in front, 13-10, after four rounds. Senior Juan De La Torre (220 pounds) added a 5-3 decision and freshman Randy Arriaga (heavyweight) earned a pin to increase the Couagrs lead to 22-10.

“I can’t worry about the team score, I just need to go out there and do what I’ve been taught to do,” Shackleford said. “I needed to stay calm. I realized I needed a pin, but I wanted to get the win first and keep it under control.”

Despite the deficit, Aliso Niguel hung around and with two matches to go, had a chance at tying with a pair of pins, but Evan Hubbard was faced with the task of handling defending CIF champion Brandon Hernandez at 138 pounds.

Hernandez, dealing with a knee injury, put the match out of reach with a 3-2 decision. A takedown in the second period provided the needed points and Hernandez controlled on top in the third.

“It was tough, (Hubbard) got me with a double in the first,” Hernandez said. “I’m a little banged up, but I knew I had to wrestle for the team win. I didn’t think he could keep up with my pace, so I kept pushing.”

The dual started at 152 pounds and Michael Youssef staked the Cougars to an early lead with a major decision.

Aliso Niguel fought back. Gage Pepper (160) gave the Wolverines a lead with a pin at 1:43 and Sammy Azar (170) made it 10-4 with a major decision.

After a pin by Chris Le (106) brought Aliso Niguel within six points, Capistrano Valley’s Andres Gonzalez (113) and sophomore Noah Holmes (120) each won by fall to extend the lead to 34-18.

But decision victories by Kyle Gaeta (126) and Michael Carranza (132) gave the Wolverines a fighting chance before Hernandez put the dual away.

Joe Curry (145) finished the contest with a victory by fall. Capistrano Valley, which sits in the driver’s seat for a Sea View League title, faces El Toro next Thursday.

Aliso Niguel fell to 1-1 in league competition.

“Some guys showed up tonight and that’s what made it fun,” Cougars coach Rich Bordner said. “We pulled a couple upsets that we didn’t think we would get. This is a great highlight to the season.”


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