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Folsom earns 37-35 win over SFL rival Del Oro

By: Matt Long, Sports Editor
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A year ago Folsom High’s wrestling team gave away 18 points against Del Oro because of three forfeited weight classes and lost the dual match and Sierra Foothill League championship by 16 points.

On Wednesday night at Folsom High, Del Oro won seven matches to Folsom’s five, outscoring them 35-25, but two forfeits at 220 and 106 pounds gave Folsom an additional 12 points, which allowed the Bulldogs to win the dual, 37-35. The Bulldogs have yet to win the league title; however, as they have remaining duals against Whitney and Oak Ridge, but the win gives them the inside track.

“We knew it would come down to bonus points,” Del Oro coach Clint Madden said. “Giving up the forfeits obviously hurt us, but we also had Damion (Elliott) out of the lineup injured. We wrestled well, and won the matches we were supposed to win, but needed one more match.”

The Folsom-Del Oro dual matches are normally close affairs; often coming down to the last match, as Wednesday night’s match did. Folsom held a 37-32 lead with the 132-pound bout left to be wrestled. Del Oro’s Evan Ivaldi, one of five state-ranked wrestlers in the Golden Eagles’ lineup, needed to pin Folsom’s Justin Eldridge to give Del Oro the one-point win. Ivaldi dominated the match, 7-0, but Eldridge stayed off his back, which gave Folsom the two-point win.

“That’s the thing with the dual matches, sometimes you don’t have to win your match to be the hero,” Folsom coach Mike Collier said of Eldridge, one of 10 seniors honored before the match on senior night.

Madden added, “It’s a tough situation for Evan because he has to get the pin, but also because the other guy just has to avoid from getting pinned and doesn’t have to worry about winning. It just didn’t work out for us.”

Eldridge was clearly the underdog heading into the bout against Ivaldi, ranked 15th in the state at 132 pounds. Earlier in the season, Ivaldi pinned Eldridge in a match and Eldridge was trying to make sure it didn’t happen again.

“My coach was telling me that that match was at the beginning of the season and I’m a lot better now,” Eldridge said of his thoughts heading into the match. “I knew I had to not give up bars and halves, and stay away from the cradle, which is how he pinned me before. I knew what I needed to do to stop those, and I also knew if I was a threat offensively he couldn’t be on the attack.”

All three of Folsom’s pins were big, as Caiden Cohen moved up a weight class to 160 pounds to secure the team’s first points of the match. Heavyweight Caleb Freeland also earned a first-period fall, while David Lopez earned a second-period pin at 126. As one of Folsom’s top wrestlers, Cohen’s pin wasn’t a huge surprise. With Del Oro’s Elliott out of the lineup, Lopez benefitted by facing a weaker opponent. Freeland, only a second-year wrestler, was more of a wild card in his match against Garrett Houser.

“I had never wrestled him, but I knew I had to give it my all,” Freeland said. “I didn’t go into the match thinking I had to pin him, I just wanted to win the match.”

Following Freeland’s pin, which was sandwiched between the two forfeits, Folsom had two more big wins. Daniel Lopez earned a 9-6 decision over Klay Browning at 113 pounds, while Evan Taylor, wrestling up a weight class at 120 pounds, picked up a 9-1 major decision over Cesar Jaimes. If Folsom lost either match, Del Oro would have won the dual.

“We practice hard to do the things we do and the coaches help us,” Freeland said of his team. “It felt good to win this match.”

Del Oro received pins from Brenden Johnson (138), Jed Campos (152), Noah Blake (170), and Colton Guthrie (182). Blake’s pin came in 20 seconds, while Guthrie finished off his match in 23 seconds. Eli Blake (145) won by technical fall, 21-6, and Adam Lowe (195) earned a 10-4 decision to go along with Ivaldi’s win at 132.

Folsom still has work to do to earn the SFL crown with dual matches remaining on the road at Whitney and rival Oak Ridge.

“I don’t think Whitney has a full lineup,” Collier said. “Oak Ridge always wrestles us tough. They’re strong in the upperweights, and they’re getting healthier. We have the inside track, but we’re not going to look past anyone.”