Atascadero comes back to win on final match at home

ATASCADERO — The Atascadero Greyhounds hosted only their second home match of the season on Wednesday night and put on an absolute show for everyone in attendance, coming from behind to beat the San Luis Obispo Tigers on the last match of the contest when heavyweight Brendan Haydon pinned his opponent, lifting the Hounds to a 34-31 home victory. 

The Atascadero wrestling program and coach Sohrab Movahedi have quietly, in the shadows, been putting together a good season and it culminated Wednesday night in front of the home fans. The Atascadero versus SLO match was as tight and exhilarating as one can be with every single point being absolutely crucial. 

The fireworks started early in Ewing Gymnasium with the first match as 106-pound (soaking wet)  freshman Jack Hathaway, who has spent the majority of the season on the junior varsity while also wrestling varsity matches, met SLO’s Aiden Maples. 

After a few seconds of circling and sizing each other up, Hathaway took his shot and the two flyweights started rolling around on the mat at a frenetic pace like two cats fighting in your living room. 

“I was doing my thing and it was all just happening so fast,” Hathaway said after his match. “I didn’t know what I was doing half the time, I could just hear everyone yelling at me and telling me what to start doing.”

After the first period, Hathaway found himself up 4-2 and went back to work. With just over a minute to go in the second, the gangly freshman flipped over his opponent and the crowd erupted so loud that the wrestlers could barley hear the referee’s whistle announcing the pin. 

“That was my first varsity pin,” Hathaway said. “I’ve been in all the varsity matches except one but they have all been really tough because they have all been against people who know how to wrestle and I have been a noob kind of but it felt so good to get this win. I was just so happy. I got to wear a belt,” 

Hathaway’s pin gave the Hounds a 6-0 advantage after one match but the Tigers charged back into the lead following three straight victories in the next three matches. 

Down 16-6, senior 132-pound wrestler Zerek Brown stepped into the circle with his team needing him to score points and put together one of the most complete matches in the evening. Brown set the tone early, taking shots and he would have pinned his opponent at the end of the first had he not been saved by the buzzer. 

“It was good, we have been training a lot this year and I got a takedown nice and early right away and I was just working with the guy on top and trying to get some moves in,” Brown said. “I almost got him in the first period but then wrapped him up in the second.”

The senior pinned his opponent, Taven Olson, with 1:26 to go in the second bringing the Hounds back within four points down 16-12. 

Cael Cooper was up next for the boys in Orange and put together a dominating performance of conditioning and precision. Cooper very nearly pinned his opponent in the first but had his pin stolen from him when the official called the two off the mat in what could be considered a quick whistle. From that point forward it was all Cooper, who won the match 14-2 and more importantly tied up the score at 16. 

A Tigers pin in the 145-pound division put them back up six with two of the Hounds top wrestlers on deck and the undisputed match of the evening. 

Atascadero’s Sean Hall and SLO’s Ari Maksudian, who wrestled in the 152 division, needed every second of their three rounds to decide a winner. 

After the first period, the score was still tied up at 0-0. Entering the the third and final round Hall found himself down 2-1 and refused to quit. Maksudian started the third period on top and all Hall needed to do to tie the game was escape. 

“To be honest that match was a bit of a struggle for me, I couldn’t get anything going,” Hall said. “He had a really strong lock on me so I wasn’t really able to get it off my neck but I just beat him on bottom. In the end, I was the one still fighting and he kind of gave up on top. That’s the only reason I was able to get out was because he gave up.”

With about 45 seconds left in the match, Hall earned a point due to a penalty assessed against SLO for locking their hands which tied the match at 2-2. With one last heroic gasp of energy, Hall climbed to his knees, then his feet and finally broke his opponent’s grasp, earning a point and winning the match. 

Atascadero and SLO split the next four matches with Alex Chavez (160 pounds)  and Vincent Vertuche (182 pounds) each winning their bouts and setting the table for a fantastic finish. 

With two matches to go, Atascadero was down six points, meaning one more would lose them the dual. 

220-pound wrestler Carson Brander was up first and handled his business winning 7-2 and leaving it all up to Haydon who did the rest. At the 3:31 mark in the match, Haydon pinned his opponent, earning the Hounds six points and the dual victory. 

It was a night that those in attendance will not quickly forget. It was a night where the energy of the wrestlers fueled the crowd early and the crowd fueled the tired kids when they needed it most. While the Atascadero Wrestling program isn’t quite at the “you can’t touch me” levels of a decade ago, they are building something special.

This season Atascadero is 4-3 overall and 1-1 at home in duals with their next home match coming next Wednesday against Santa Maria.

“I think our team is solid,” Hall said. “And I think we are going to do really good during CIF and hopefully CIF Masters.”

Getting through this together, Atascadero