Fountain Valley wins, forces three-way tie in Sunset


HUNTINGTON BEACH – Stone Escobedo went to the mat to conclude Tuesday's dual against Marina knowing that even with a loss, as long as it wasn't by fall, the Fountain Valley wrestling team would have reason to celebrate.

He gave the Barons a few reasons to smile, too.

Escobedo rallied from a 3-0 deficit against Colin Navickas in the 170-pound match to win, 8-6 in overtime, and clinch the 34-25 road victory for the sixth-ranked Barons.

The victory created a three-way tie for the Sunset League title between Los Alamitos, Fountain Valley and Marina, with all three teams finishing 4-1 in league.

Navickas is ranked first in the county at 160 pounds, and Escobedo is ranked fifth. Both were bumped up in weight class for the dual.

The momentum changed in the second period when Escobedo scored a takedown and a three-point near-fall for a 5-3 lead. The score was tied 6-6 at the end of the regulation.

"That's when my whole mentality was like, I can hang with this guy," Escobedo said of the first takedown. "He bumped up to wrestle me and that's when my mentality was like, I'm ready for this.

"He came to wrestle me, so I was going to give him the match that he came to wrestle for."

All three of the first-place teams are eligible for the CIF-SS Division 1 dual championships on Feb. 9 at Los Alamitos High. Los Alamitos defeated Newport Harbor, 43-16, in a dual Tuesday that moved the Griffins to 4-1 in league.

Marina led, 25-9, after the 126-pound match when Sean King pinned Isaiah Prado. But Fountain Valley won the final six matches.

Steele Escobedo gave the Barons their first lead, 27-25, when he won by fall at 152 pounds.

"The confidence came back at around 106," Escobedo said. "We knew that once 106 came around, we would start winning some matches. From 126-160, we call ourselves the Steel Curtain, and we knew from there we were going to win every match."

Nathan Bazan's major-decision victory at 160 was important since it forced Marina to get a pin at 170 just to force a tie.

Marina won the first four matches of the dual for a 15-0 lead. Fountain Valley's first victory came at 106 when Vincent Pham defeated Ryan Evans, 5-3.

"We knew it was going to be tight," Fountain Valley coach Brad Woodbury said. "Our guys didn't make weight, so I had to bump everybody up. That threw us off, but I think it worked out to our advantage.

"Stone was a different man. I just said, 'You have to go win it.' He wanted it. He wrestled tough. He wanted it. That was a huge win for him."

Up next for the teams is the Sunset League finals, set for Saturday at Fountain Valley.

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