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San Clemente snaps Laguna Hills' streak
SAN CLEMENTE - Rick Simpson delivered in a big way for the second-ranked San Clemente wrestling team.
With the Tritons trailing top-ranked Laguna Hills by four points heading into the final match of Tuesday’s South Coast League dual, Simpson went to the mat knowing that a pin would win it.
That’s just what he did.
Simpson pinned Laguna Hills’ Tyler Papa at 3:26 of the match at 152 pounds, giving the Tritons the 31-29 victory on their home mat and setting off pandemonium inside the gym, which eventually led to the Simpson being hoisted up and carried by his teammates.
“I went out there, got hyped up, my whole team knew I could do it,” Simpson said. “I went out there got the pin and finally made history.”
The history in this case is San Clemente snapping Laguna Hills’ 105 consecutive league dual winning streak, dating back to 1987.
Simpson gave up an early takedown against Papa, but he would take a 3-2 lead into the second period. In the second, he scored another takedown and then turned Papa on his back and eventually got the pin.
“We practice so hard every day, and this is what we’ve been talking about for the past three years, beating Laguna,” Simpson said. “This has been a dream and the fact that it finally happened, it is a miracle that we’ve been working for and we deserve it.”
For a moment, it appeared that the miracle would have to wait. Laguna Hills took a 25-16 after Billy Brauberger’s pin at 126 pounds. However, the never-say-die attitude of the Tritons took over.
Tim Parten (132) won by decision and John Castellini followed with a pin at 138 to tie the match at 25-25. Laguna Hills’ Wyond Mills defeated Brian DeGennaro, 10-0, to give the Hawks a 29-25 lead going into the final match.
“When (Wyond) Mills was wrestling (Brian) DeGennaro, I walked behind the bench to Simpson and told him that DeGennaro will do his job and fight and not give up six points,” San Clemente coach Mark Calentino said. “He knew what he had to do and when he got that reversal, I felt like it (the pin) was coming.”
With the victory, Calentino was finally able to bring out the T-shirts that he had stored in his locker that read: "THE END …. And we’ve only just begun." It was a reference to the Triton stopping the Hawks' streak. The shirts had been locked away for a couple of years.
“I bought them when I found out they (Laguna Hills) were coming into our league,” he said. “I opened up the box once.”
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