Del Oro dominates, but Rocklin surprises

Thunder grapplers under new coach
By: Jim Linsdau
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ROCKLIN– It did not come as much of a surprise when Del Oro’s Noah Blake recorded a fall in less than 30 seconds Wednesday, but Rocklin heavyweight Bobby Piland surprised everyone when he scored a takedown in the final seconds of his bout for a 3-1 victory.


Take nothing away from Blake. The section champion has made it to state three times, placing third last year at 160 pounds. Wednesday, he wrestled at 170 to defeat the Thunder’s Kaiden Baker.


But Piland’s takedown of the Golden Eagles’ Garret Houser put the icing on Rocklin’s cake, in spite of the Storm losing the match 49-14.


“We don’t have the upper weights, really; our heavyweight is a freshman,” said Rocklin’s new head coach Gus Barone. “And Bobby (Piland) pulled off that one at the end, so it kind of made it worth it, I guess.”


Piland and Houser sparred like two baby bulls with Piland scoring a point in the first period and Houser answering with a point in the second. Then for 115 seconds of the final two minutes, it looked as if they would finish with one point apiece until Piland’s last-second move.


The two clubs both surrendered a forfeit in the early going. The Eagles won the next six matches and then Rocklin’s Josh Pitts out-pointed Del Oro’s Matt Cioci, 3-1, at 160 pounds.


After Blake’s victory, Rocklin’s Darin Skultety nearly got the win over Del Oro’s Colton Guthrie. But a takedown in the final period gave Guthrie a 6-5 win.


At 195, the Thunder’s Nicolas Molina scored a 4-0 shutout over Asher Fox.


The Eagles, ranked 12th by The California Wrestler, scored just three pins in the match.


“Actually, we’re pretty young, a lot of freshmen in our lineup. I think there were three or four freshmen and we have a couple sophomores,” Barone said. “Obviously, this is a beautifully humbling sport. It humbles you when we now look at it because we’re on the other side. But, hey, we’ll pick ourselves up and work hard.”


Barone and his staff have already been working hard. The former Spring View Middle School coach started recruiting Rocklin athletes almost immediately. He now has a full 14-weight lineup; the single forfeit was because one wrestler was still on Christmas break.


Barone understands the importance of attracting young wrestlers to Rocklin’s program. He is working with athletic director Ryan Spears to establish a year-round open gym and has formed a strong relationship with the local middle schools.


“That’s our main concern is building that youth program, but year-round. So, if we get these kids to come and wrestle and wrestle and wrestle 20 matches during the offseason, that’s what will make them that much better,” Barone said. “Hey, we’ll get there; it’ll just take some time. You know Rome wasn’t built in a day, absolutely not. We feel very excited about where we stand.”