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Wednesday Night War Bruins Thrill Home Crowd On Senior Night
When 145-pound Riverbank High senior wrestler Ben Hodges whipped Ripon's Zack Hildana to his back for a pin just one minute, 12 seconds into the first round, he put the Indians into a serious state of unease.

The pin tacked on six team points and a 16-point Bruin lead with just three matches to wrestle during Riverbank's Senior Night at the Ray Fauria Memorial Gymnasium on Wednesday, Feb 2.

"I was probably calculating way before most people were, looking at what we had to do to win," Ripon coach Glen White said. "I knew we had to pin in all three of those remaining matches just to escape with a win."

Ripon, which had dispatched Modesto Christian handily in a 45-32 dual just minutes prior, snuck in three late pins to squeeze by surging Riverbank in a gripping 42-40 finale. The dual was a sure sign of Riverbank's improvement, considering the Bruins fell to Modesto Christian in a 41-18 landslide just 28 days prior. It was also the closest Riverbank has come to defeating Ripon since the Bruins' last win over the Indians in 1998. Wednesday's match represented the first time Riverbank has had the participation numbers and program support to host Ripon in a TVL dual since 2001.

"I think it is great Riverbank has so many kids out here wrestling," White said. "And the fans came out and supported them. This is definitely a step in the right direction for their program."

The Bruins trailed early after state-ranked Travis Smith pinned Javier Gaxiola to open the dual at 275 pounds. An Indian forfeit, then pin at 112 saw the Bruins looking at an 18-0 deficit before Martin Carillo could steal a pin at 119 pounds with just three seconds remaining in the opening round.

Jesus Carillo had some momentary struggles with Haily Owens (girls state qualifier) at 125, but landed several late takedowns for a 15-3 major decision victory.

Omar Flores broke away from a 2-2 deadlock at 130 with a pin at the 1:22 mark and watched a Jose Martinez forfeit give the Bruins their first lead at 22-18. Eddie Guardado landed another forfeit at 140, before Hodges could surprise the Indians with a dominant pin over Hildana for a 34-18 Riverbank lead with two forfeits (one for each team) and three matches to go.

"I was thinking this is my last match at home, and win or lose I wanted to make it a good show," Hodges said. "I didn't expect it to happen so fast, but it felt pretty cool to get my first pin of the season."

The Indians had to snare pins at 152, 160 and 171 just to sneak in the narrow victory, which did little to taint a terrific performance from the Bruin grapplers.

"That was pretty exciting, and it showed me that our guys have the heart to put it together," Riverbank coach Martin Ugalde said. "Overall they looked pretty darn good, and I'm pleased with how they are wrestling to this point."

Jessica Guardado, Mariella Hernandez and Cynthia Garcia took on the first ever Sac-Joaquin Section Women's Championship at McNair High on Saturday, but were unable to secure advancement to girls state.

Riverbank is at the TVL championship tournament on Saturday in Ripon. The top four placers from the TVL will face 12 medalists from the Southern League, Golden Empire League and Mother Lode League in the 16-man bracket SJS Division V Championships on Feb. 18 and 19.