Area wrestlers win North Coast section titles

UNION CITY – When you wait three years to have your moment, you’re going to celebrate, and when you win it all in the final seconds of an extra period, it takes you into unforgettable territory.

When you upset the No. 2 seed in the semis and the first seed in the finals, that’s a defining moment.

Montgomery’s Isaiah Rubio had that moment in overtime at the 130-pound North Coast Sectional Wrestling Championship on Saturday night, one of three Redwood Empire wrestlers to win a sectional title. The other two were Casey Aikman of Ukiah at 152 pounds and Zach Babel of Casa Grande at 182 pounds.

The top-ranked men’s team at Empire Redwood was Ukiah, who finished fourth, and Casa Grande, who finished fifth.

On the girls’ side, Casa Grande’s Sakiko Pizzorno won the 128-pound crown and Jolette Torres won the 172-pound crown. The Windsor girls were the only ones to finish in the top 10 with a fifth place finish.

Nothing in the boys final matched the excitement of Rubio’s OT win.

In the final 20 seconds of extra time, No. 3 seed Rubio rallied and pinned De La Salle’s Atridad Feizi in the dying seconds of extra time to win the Vikings’ first section of struggle in a long time.

Rubio pushed Feizi into overtime, managing to tie the game in the third period at 1-1. The game was stopped for a bloody timeout with 20 seconds left in overtime. Rubio could see that Feizi was out of breath.

“He almost knocked me down,” Rubio said. “He had my leg up and I could tell he was a little tired. I dove in and got his leg up. I jumped right there and got the pin.

Rubio describes the journey to his first section title that long, explaining that he didn’t do his best his freshman year, got injured his second year, had to wait for COVID-19 his freshman year, before taking section title and book a ticket to report to Bakersfield next week.

He thought about this path to the final in the last seconds of the game.

“I could just see everything I’d worked for all this time, and I wasn’t going to let anyone take that away from me in the end,” Rubio said. “I could tell he was tired. I just kept pushing that pace and remembering everything I worked for.

Coach Ken Coburn wanted to slow the pace, telling Rubio to ‘set the tempo’ during the game

“We wanted to slow the pace and look for an opportunity for him to make a mistake,” Coburn said. “When this opportunity presented itself, Isaiah was ready and jumped on it.”

For Coburn, in his second full season as a wrestling coach, he hopes the thrilling last-second victory will inspire the rest of what he calls a young team. He also hopes it will attract more Viking students to the program, which is often overlooked in Sonoma County along with other wrestling schools such as Ukiah, Windsor, Maria Carrillo and Casa Grande.

“Isaiah is a great example of leadership and character for kids,” Coburn said.

Aikman rebounded from a minor deficit entering third before coming back strong in the final two minutes. He credited his coaches for sparking the comeback.

“Sometime in the third period they told me to cut it,” Aikman said. “I gave him a one point lead and then I said ‘yeah shit’. I’m going to go takedown. I’m not going to try to take him out. Did that, took the lead and won the Victoire.

1 seed Babel dominated their game and took a 3-0 lead with a nice breakout in the third round. He won a 3-2 decision.

“When I got to the top I felt quite comfortable just holding it down. I feel confident enough not to get fired,” Babel said. “I felt like I took my time to get the only escape. I didn’t do anything risky, which was actually smart.

Windsor’s Jolette Torres won a “rematch” – as her trainer Richard Dixon put it – against Pittsburgh’s Philomenka Imoka for the NCS Women’s 170-pound title. She lost to her in a previous tournament after they abandoned their game plan in this tournament.

“It took practice,” Torres said. “And learn from his mistakes. Remembering the hard work you put in.

This is Torres’ first section title for the junior. She went to state previously but did not do well. She felt much more prepared this time around.

“He feels good. I feel ready,” Torres said. “My coach has given me the experience I need.”

Windsor’s Austin Frederickson lost a tough decision in the final seconds at 120 pounds to De La Salle’s Bobby Cuevas. He will still go to the state.

The top 3 boys in each weight class will qualify for state and the top four girls will also qualify. For full results, visit cifncs.org.