GLENDALE — Five bouts into their Rio Hondo League wrestling match and the narrative looked somewhat familiar for the Hoover High wrestling team.
The fledgling program in its third year of existence had fallen behind 23 points to visiting South Pasadena and appeared destined for a blowout.
The Tornadoes won nine of their final 11 matches and scored 42 of the last 45 points in launching a massive rally and defeating the Tigers, 42-26, on Thursday.
“For us, we know we have to get to our middle weights and it didn’t look good early on,” said Tornadoes first-year Coach Dave Beard. “We kept on competing and got some greats results from our [132-pounder], 145, 152, 160 and the rest. It’s a great win.”
With the triumph, Hoover (5-2, 2-2 in league) put itself in place to snag third place within the Rio Hondo League next Tuesday at Monrovia, while becoming the first team in school history to win two league matches.
South Pasadena (2-2) won the first four rounds, three via forfeits, in taking a 23-0 lead and an eventual 26-3 advantage after a hard-fought 14-10 victory from Emiliano Sornoso over Hoover’s Jessie Martinez at 138 pounds.
What was unknown for both squads at the time was the impact of the very next match at 145 pounds between Hoover’s Geraldy Martinez and South Pasadena’s Ryan Bell.
Geraldy Martinez led, 5-3, after one period behind a takedown and near fall before Bell rallied to tie the match at 5 after two periods.
Bell converted two escapes in the third period in taking a 7-5 advantage, which led to a frantic comeback from Geraldy Martinez, who flipped a match-tying takedown with 30 seconds left and then secured the go-ahead near fall with 13 seconds remaining that clinched a 9-7 win.
While Geraldy Martinez’s win only brought Hoover within 26-6, the victory was the first of four earned by the Tornadoes, who picked up pins from Davit Nersiyan (152 pounds), Arthur Ghukasyan (160) and Sebastian Ghouliance (170) that brought the home squad within 26-24.
Perhaps Nersiyan was most surprised with his fall as he had attempted to pin South Pasadena’s Julian Lopez on five different occasions and was close to picking up a technical fall as he led, 17-4, late in the third period.
Yet, on his final try at a pin, Nersiyan delivered a fall at 1:21 in the third period.
“I didn’t think I was going to get that pin,” Nersiyan said. “He kept on fighting me off and I was really close to running out of time. We needed all the points we could get and we needed that pin.”
Hoover then took the lead for good at 30-26 without a fight when the Tigers forfeited the 182-pound bout to Mike Sosa.
In what ended up being the final real bout of the day, Kenneth Garcia served up Hoover’s last pin at 1:57 at 198 pounds to propel the Tornadoes ahead, 36-26.
Neither team entered a wrestler at 220 pounds, while Hoover heavyweight Sean Waasdorp clinched a forfeit victory to secure the scoring.
Hoover’s only other win was its first from Narek Zamanyan at 132 pounds and was a thriller as the Tornadoes’ lower-weight grappler converted a three-point near fall with 13 seconds left in defeating South Pasadena’s Angel Amaral, 13-12.
“We’re a new team with a new coach this year and we weren’t going to lose to these guys again,” Ghukasyan said. “They beat us bad last year and now it was our year to do the same.”