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Wrestling: Santa Maria downs Arroyo Grande for major victory

Wrestling: Santa Maria downs Arroyo Grande for major victory

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The Santa Maria High wrestling team poses for a photo after beating Arroyo Grande 54-21 in a non-league dual Wednesday night at Wilson Gym. At center is John Diaz, a former Santa Maria High standout wrestler, who is now an official. 

First-year Santa Maria wrestling coach James Gross had a simple explanation for the Saints' win over Arroyo Grande Wednesday night.

"We got the pins and they didn’t," Gross said after his Saints beat the Eagles 54-21 in a non-league dual. "Not one of our guys got pinned."

The Saints, meanwhile, scored six pins in the victory.

Oswaldo Morales, at 126 pounds, and Sam Benitez, at 145, got two of the Saints' pins. They were joined by Anselmo Ventura (132 pounds), Erik Carrizal (152), Nicholas Quang (195) and Pablo Negrete (220).

"The boys are happy, any time you’re beating a defending CIF championship team it’s a big deal for a school that hasn’t been to that level yet," Gross said.

The Eagles won the CIF Central Section Division 3 championship last February. 

Gross, the Saints' new coach, said he makes sure his wrestlers know the importance of a pin. Even if his wrestlers are losing a match, he implores them not to lose via pin as it carries so much weight in the scoring of a team dual.

“Every dual we go into we bring that attitude. The pins are just such a high value," Gross said. "If you're getting pinned versus not getting pinned is such a huge shift. Even if they're losing, the guys know not to get pinned. They know that going into it and I even went over it again before the match that if we avoid getting pinned we had a shot to beat them.”

The Saints have JV tournaments the next two weekends, at Cabrillo and Righetti, before The BASH at Pioneer Valley the weekend after Christmas. 

"I think they’re capable of winning the Ocean League," Gross said of his group. "I think Nipomo is going to be the team to beat. We finished below Nipomo, Atascadero and SLO last weekend at the varsity tournament. If we get everybody at the right weight classes we'll have a chance."

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Joe Bailey is the sports editor at Lee Central Coast Newspapers. Contact him with tips and story ideas at jbailey@leecentralcoastnews.com or (805) 739-2239. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/jbaileysmsports

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