Paso pins five to win

ATASCADERO — After Paso Robles wrestling sent eight wrestlers to Masters last year and two to State, spirits are high for the program as it begins this season. The Bearcats opened the season at a tournament in Lemoore before heading to Atascadero on Wednesday for their first local dual.

The Bearcats have a young team this year, but not necessarily inexperienced, and will rely on that youth. They bring back Blake Haupt and Peyton Kilber, who both placed third in the CIF Central Section Area tournament last year punching their ticket to Masters in the process. 

Jacob Marmelejo, who placed sixth at Area a year ago, is also returning and is wrestling in the 126-pound weight class while his brother Joseph occupies the 120-pound class. This gives the Bearcats two strong wrestlers at the lower weights.

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Peyton Kilber controls his opponent during the Bearcats win on Wednesday night. (photo by Luke Phillips)

‘The Marmelejo brothers are going to be real tough this year,” co-head coach Nate Ybarra said on Wednesday night. “Along with Peyton Kilber and Dylan Maduena.”

Paso Robles is strong in the lighter weights, which features both Marmelejo’s, Maduena, Kilber and Joey Dominguez and are expected to give opponents fits as they chase a Mountain League title.

The Bearcats made their way into Ewing Gymnasium on Wednesday night for a non-league dual meet with the Atascadero Greyhounds and left with a 49-30 victory. The Bearcats spotted the Hounds 12 points out the gate by forfeiting the 106 and 113 weight classes but quickly made up the ground. The 120-pound weight class was the first match of the night decided on the mat and Joseph Marmelejo recorded a first-round pin, cutting the deficit in half. 

Jacob Marmelejo wrestled next at 126 and dominated his match, earning four points for PRHS. Jacob Marmalejo was matched up against Atascadero’s Zerek Brown and controlled the pace of the match, taking a 4-0 lead into the second round and increating to 8-2 entering the third period. Jacob Marmelejo got into trouble for a moment in the second when Brown earned a takedown, which ignited the home crowd but quickly turned the reversal to regain control.

Maduena entered the circle for the Bearcats in the next match at 132 pounds and earned the Bearcats’ second pin of the night in the second round of his match against Atascadero’s Finn Anderson. The match was close in the first as both wrestlers felt each other out. Madeuna entered the second up 2-0 but turned it on in the period taking an 11-2 lead before securing the pin. The win gave the Bearcats their first lead of the night 16-12.

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Paso Robles’ Jake Morones looks for position during his match on Wednesday night. (Photo by Luke Phillips)

PRHS recorded five pins on the night.

Kilber wrestled next for the Bearcats and looked in midseason form. He relied on his stellar conditioning throughout the three periods to build a significant lead. Several times, he let his opponent up only to quickly take him down. 

“My plan was just to come out here and score as many points as I could,” Kilber said, following his match. “I was just trying to work myself harder because I still have to cut weight and stuff and you lose more during a match, I feel like.”

His approach was evident and his attack was relentless, taking a 12-3 score into the third period. He eventually earned six points as the referee called the match after disqualifying his opponent for stalling. 

Joey Dominguez looked fit at 140 pounds. He recorded a pin for the Bearcats to extend the lead to 28-12 at the halfway point.

Atascadero’s strength is in the middle of its lineup and they fought back, earning back-to-back pins at 152 and 160 pounds, respectively. The two pins gave the fans something to cheer about and cut the deficit to four points. 

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Dylan Maduena holds top position during his match in the 132-pound weight class. (photo by Luke Phillips)

With all the Bearcats’ momentum zapped and the Hounds down 28-24, the most crucial match of the evening fell on the shoulders of Paso Robles sophomore Jake Morones, and he wrestled the match of the night. Morones stepped into the circle with Atascadeo’s Isaah Gleason, who had a title wave of momentum behind him. The two battled in the first two rounds and tired the other out. 

Morones entered the final period up 8-6 and was applying pressure to Gleason. The sophomore made a small mistake and Gleason went for the reversal, but in the scramble, Morones retook control, scoring a near fall to secure the win 11-6. 

“I just didn’t want to lose,” Morones said. “I was tired, but I just knew that I had to fight through it and I knew that he was tired, so I knew I just had to keep my pressure and stay with it.”

Vincent Vertuche and Blake Haupt each pinned their opponents at 182 and 285 pounds, respectively, to secure the win for the Bearcats 49-30.

This weekend the Bearcats head to Madera for the Chukchansi Invitational and host their first home dual Wednesday night against St. Joseph.