HESPERIA - There's a new Mojave River League wrestling champion.
A fast start provided Sultana all the points necessary to upend Oak Hills 49-13 on Wednesday night and prove itself the best wrestling program in the Hesperia Unified School District once again.
It started with furious, intense pins and ended with smart, tactical wrestling. The Sultana fans in attendance enjoyed this one almost as much as the wrestlers; they've waited three years to put another league title next to the "2014" on their banner. Oak Hills had won the last two MRL titles.
Sultana came out firing with Leo Molina (195 pounds), Sam Aguilar (220) and Austin Gillham (heavyweight) and never looked back. Its first loss of the night didn't come until its fourth match and it clinched the league title several matches before the dual was over. That stands in stark contrast to the match at Oak Hills last year when the Bulldogs rallied to pick up a three-point victory.
"They wrestled really hard," said Sultana coach Rocky Humphrey of his wrestlers. "I've got to give credit Oak Hills, though. There were some weight classes I thought we'd get falls in and they wrestled us tough. I'm looking forward to this new rivalry with their new coach."
Dave Espinosa took over the reigns at Oak Hills last season and got the best of Humphrey and Sultana in his first meeting between the sides. This time it was the wrestlers in teal who got the victory.
How that carries over to individual competition will be seen on Saturday at MRL finals. But Sultana has grown from a season ago. Smart wrestling has always been a hallmark of Humphrey's style, but what stood out Wednesday was Sultana's stamina. Even as Oak Hills scratched and clawed to get back into the match, Sultana kept its poise, composure and its energy into the third period.
Humphrey agreed his wrestlers have grown from last season both physically and mentally. That bodes well as the second season of wrestling begins.
This isn't a eulogy for the Bulldogs, though. Losing to Sultana offers coach Dave Espinosa's Bulldogs a fork in the road. There were opportunities for Oak Hills to get back in the match early on. When the weight classes turned over, it seemed the Bulldogs were ready to seize the opportunity with their stronger weights.
Shanii McBroom (113) wrestled a great match and his pin gave the Bulldogs their first points. That didn't start a run of points for Oak Hills, which struggled to get much of anything together after that. Sultana ultimately proved too deep and its early lead too great to overcome.
Brandon Martell (145) also ground out a late decision in what was Oak Hills' last great chance to get back in the match. Both Martell and McBroom have a future in the individual circuit, though it'll be a short recovery time before league finals on Saturday.
Sultana will surely have a good showing then if Wednesday is any indicator. The MRL is teal for the first time since 2014, and nobody could be happier than Humphrey and company.
Sultana 49, Oak Hills 13
106 - Spangler (S) dec. Vaughn (O), 7-0.
113 - McBroom (O) pinned Smith (S), 5:18.
120 - Cisneros (S) dec. Saunders (O), 10-3.
126 - Orozco (O) major dec. Cortez (S), 12-2.
132 - Blasius (S) pinned Burton (O), 0:23.
138 - Cardenas (S) dec. Miller (O), 7-3.
145 - Martell (O) dec. Bloomer (S), 9-7.
152 - Vargas (S) dec. Buscher (O), 5-0.
160 - Solis (S) pinned Vaughn (O), 4:24.
170 - Griego (S) major dec. (Stanley (O), 12-0.
182 - Turkowski (S) pinned Vance (O), 1:02.
195 - Molina (S) dec. Jimenez (O), 6-2.
220 - Aguilar (S) pinned Aldridge (O), 0:43.
HWT - Gillham (S) pinned Torres (O), 0:43.
Jacob Sundstrom can be reached at 760-951-6274 and firstname.lastname@example.org. You can follow him on Twitter @DPSundstrom.