By Eric-Paul Johnson
ANAHEIM — Josh Medina had been thinking about this very scenario since Thursday. When the moment arrived Saturday afternoon, Medina did not succumb to the pressure.
The CIF Southern Section Division 1 dual-meet wrestling championship match between Trinity League rivals Servite and St. John Bosco came down to the final bout of the day. St. John Bosco had a one-point lead heading into the last match, but Medina won by major decision to lift Servite to a 37-34 win at Canyon High School.
For Servite, it is the program's third dual-meet title over the past five seasons.
"There are about eight or nine wrestlers on this team I would put my money on in a winner-take-all match," Friars coach Alan Clinton said. "The final round ending at 132 pounds really did work to our advantage. I had total confidence in Josh there."
The starting point for each of the rounds was determined by a random draw Thursday, so Medina knew for some time he likely would be wrestling in the final match of the day.
"I figured everything was going to come down to my match," said Medina, who is the No. 11-ranked wrestler in the state at 132 pounds. "It was a little nerve-wracking to know that was the case. But once the match started, it was down to business."
Medina's opponent was Timothy Levine, who is the state's No. 20-ranked 132-pounder. Medina scored a pair of takedowns in the opening period and never opened the door for Levine to rally. Medina's dominance continued, and he won by a score of 14-2.
"Hearing the buzzer and knowing we had won was the greatest feeling," Medina said.
The championship match featured six lead changes, the last two happening with the final two bouts. Teddy Okada got Servite off to a great start, as he won via pin at 138 pounds. St. John Bosco's Cael Valencia matched it with win a pin at 145 pounds.
Servite led by nine points twice during the championship, including at 33-24 with three matches remaining. St. John Bosco rallied, with Antonio Lorenzo (120 pounds) picking up six points with a pin, and Isaac Salas (126 pounds) adding four points with an 11-0 decision to help the Braves surge ahead 34-33.
"It's exactly the kind of match we were expecting," Clinton said. "Back and forth from start to finish. Fortunately, we were able to end the match with a victory."
Temecula Valley's bid for a 17th dual-meet section championship came up short with a 35-31 loss to St. John Bosco in the semifinals. Temecula Valley fell into a 22-0 hole after five bouts, which was not entirely unexpected. The Golden Bears staged a remarkable comeback, winning six of the next seven matches to take the 31-28 lead.
Horeb Macias' overtime win at 182 pounds gave Temecula Valley a much-needed boost.
"That was a battle of wills, and Horeb Macias never stopped fighting until he won," Temecula Valley coach Arnold Alpert said. "That is what we needed at that moment."
St. John Bosco answered back, as Lorenzo beat M.J. Gaitan by major decision to give the Braves a 32-31 lead with one match remaining. That 126-pound bout pitted Salas (No. 11 in the state) against Temecula Valley's Mark Takara (No. 25 in the state). Salas pulled out a 5-2 decision to send St. John Bosco in the championship round.
"There were two tossups we felt we had an opportunity to win, 138 and 160," Alpert said. "If one of those matches fell our way, we'd be wrestling for a CIF championship right now. I won't take anything away from my guys, but Bosco was just a little better than us today."
Servite beat St. John Bosco 41-32 two weeks ago to secure the Trinity League title. When asked if he would have preferred a chance to avenge an early-season defeat to Temecula Valley, Clinton said: "It would've been nice, but I can't be disappointed with what happened... How many teams can say they beat Bosco twice in one season?"
CIF-SS DIVISION 1 DUAL-MEET WRESTLING CHAMPIONSHIPS
Temecula Valley, bye
Centennial 68, San Dimas 12
Villa Park, bye
St. John Bosco 70, Covina 12
Carter 36, Murrieta Valley 33
Oak Hills 66, Wilson/Hacienda Heights 9
Temecula Valley 51, Centennial 18
St. John Bosco 54, Villa Park 24
Northview 57, Carter 16
Servite 49, Oak Hills 16
St. John Bosco 35, Temecula Valley 31
Servite 39, Northview 27
Servite 37, St. John Bosco 34