Andy Vandergraft capitalized on his opportunity to redeem himself.
Over an hour after getting pinned in a junior varsity match against Lathrop during a Valley Oak League-opening three-team dual at Winter Gym Tuesday, the freshman was given the nod by Weston Ranch coach Pat King to compete in his first varsity contest.
Vandergraft charged his Cougar teammates by extending Weston Ranch’s early lead with a 2-minute, 33-second pin in the 112-pound match, highlighting the 54-21 victory over host Manteca.
“We decided late to put him in there just to see how he’d do,” King said. “Very impressive. Wrestler of the night for us — no question.
“I would have liked to have seen him wrestle first, and our kids would have been really fired up.”
It turned out Weston Ranch (1-0, 7-1 overall) didn’t need the spark that early, as it led 36-15 after Vandergraft’s win.
Weston Ranch racked up eight pins, the fastest coming in 13 seconds by Sam Saini (160).
Daniel Guzman (103) notched his fall in 27 seconds, Chris Rodriguez (119) in 49 seconds, Grant Mar (130) in 51 seconds, Robert Gonzales (140) in 3:44, Travis Bowen (152) in 51 seconds and Chris Contreras (189) in 1:29.
King was displeased with the few losses his team suffered.
Manteca got the majority of its points with a forfeiture at 125, and Zach Williams’ six points at 285. Williams led Eddie Reed 9-0, but Reed was disqualified after getting tagged with his third technical violation.
The Buffaloes scored the rest via tightly-contested minority decisions.
At 145, Casey Benson staved off Joseph Harai, 7-4, and it was a three-point near fall midway through the second period that decided it.
Manteca’s Estevan Garcia (171) triumphed in the night’s best match. After a scoreless first period, Weston Ranch’s Ramon Cortez scored with an escape and a takedown to take a 3-0 lead into the final two minutes of regulation.
Garcia managed a takedown with 1:18 left to tie it at 4-all, and he completed the comeback with another takedown with 24 seconds left in overtime.
It was an impressive showing for one of the Buffaloes’ top wrestlers, who is still working his way back into shape after joining the team late in the preseason because of a wrist injury.
“I had the clock behind me toward the end of overtime, and I knew I had to get the two points,” Garcia said. “I felt that I got shorted earlier (in regulation), so I had to get a little bit of revenge and pump it out in the last few seconds.”
Sophomore Evan Sharp (215) engaged in a shootout with Franshat Sibley, hanging on in the end for a 15-9 win after the latter nearly climbed back from a nine-point deficit in the third period.
“I’m putting my freshmen and sophomores out there against quality wrestlers, and they’re handling themselves very well,” first-year Manteca head coach John Vazquez said. “They’re applying what they do in the practice room, so I can’t complain at all regardless of what the score is.