In Joe Traverso's own words, he got a little greedy.
There he was Tuesday evening, moments away from claiming his first high school tournament title in his home gym at the Hanford Winter Cup, and the Falcons junior 160-pounder lost his focus for a split second -- and the match almost followed.
Sunnyside's Jaime Garcia -- one of four finalists for the team champions -- scored a late takedown to pull even before Traverso escaped for the winning point as the clock wound to zeros in a 6-5 victory.
"He was stalling and I got greedy and wanted to get some more points, and he piled drove me on my face," said Traverso, who nose has been broken three times in his life and already was swollen Saturday because of a bout of bronchitis. "My coach told me, no matter what, there were 10 seconds in the match and I could get an escape.
Premium content for only $0.99
For the most comprehensive local coverage, subscribe today.
"We work on that in practice until it's just automatic. No matter what, you can get an escape."
Sunnyside carried the team title despite winning just two titles --Jesse Barajas at 103 and Josh Romero at 152. However, the Grizzlies placed in all but one weight to win going away with 221 points, 34 ahead of Richland.
The Bombers won four individual titles -- Josh Andrews at 112, Kyler Mars at 119, Dustin Utecht at 135 and Brady Simpson at 285 -- and edged East Valley of Spokane by two points for second, with Othello a strong fourth.
Traverso, a state veteran, was far from the only wrestler to have a tough go in the title match. Simpson edged East Valley's Aaron Christensen 7-4, and even state champion Amando Deleon of Othello had a tough go in a 5-2 win over EV's Matt Mastonardi for the 171 title.
Deleon, a senior, said he has felt the pressure of wearing that state crown and taking every wrestler's best shot, though he handles it like he does most things, with a big grin.
"I feel it before every match -- if I don't win, everybody's going to talk about it," said Deleon, who is hoping to get back down to 160 in time for the postseason. "Like this match today -- 'He's the state champ and he only won by 3.' "
He said he remembers how he felt in previous seasons going up against champions.
"It was like, 'If this guy did it, and I beat him, then I can win a championship.' "
It's a philosophy not lost on Richland's Utecht, whose previous match before Tuesday's tournament was in the finals at the prestigious Tri-State Tournament, where he lost by two points to Jeremy Golding, Mead's returning state champ.
The Bombers senior put together a good run through the Cup, winning 13-3, 12-3 and then 11-3 in the 135 final against fellow state placer Matt Jordan of Othello.
"My goal (at Tri-State) was to have Golding in the finals," said Utecht, who lost 6-4 to the defending 125-pound state champ after losing 7-2 to him two weeks earlier at the Inland Empire.
Closing the gap, Utecht said he looks forward to a third match come regionals.
Joining Deleon on the top step of the podium was teammate Joey Gomez, who topped Richland's Mitch Atwell 7-3 for the 215 crown.
Prosser's Irving Jaimez claimed the 125 championship after East Valley's Nick Sweeney injury defaulted. River View's Chance Watt cruised to the title at 135 with a pin and a pair of technical falls.
Likewise, Andrews had not trouble at 112 for the Bombers, topping Ike's Chris Cardenas 14-4 for the title following two easy decision.
Mars also was in complete control at 119, winning 6-1 over Casey Ourada, a non-scoring wrestler from East Valley.
After laboring to stay down at 112 and 103 the previous two seasons, Mars is enjoying life at 119 coming off his football weight of 135.
"It's not too bad of a cut this year," Mars said. "The last two years were tough. This year has been the best."
He credited a good meal plan the coaches put together, which has the entire team lean and mean, and perhaps will have the Bombers in contention to make some noise in the postseason.
"I'm just going out to wrestle to the best of my ability," Mars said. "There's not much pressure -- you just go out there and do what you can do."
Team scores--Sunnyside 221, Richland 187, East Valley (Spokane) 185, Othello 152, Eisenhower 112, Grandview 102, Hanford 86, Wapato 73, Prosser 43, West Valley (Yakima) 41, Southridge 39, Kennewick 35, River View 32, Chiawana 27, Columbia (Burbank) 9, Hanford JV 5.
103--Jesse Barajas (SS) m.d. Anthony Barrera (Oth) 11-3; 3, Fidel Medina (Gvw); 5, Isaih Barrera (Oth-NS). 112--Josh Andrews (Rich) m.d. Chris Cardenas (Ike) 14-4 ; 3, Michael Hosfield (Ken) and AJ Garza (Oth); 5, Alex Webb (Rich-NS) and Payton Manthei (Rich-NS). 119--Kyler Mars (Rich) d. Casey Ourada (EV-NS) 6-1; 3, Aaron Guz (Rich-NS) and Nathan Gonzalez (SS); 5, Pedro Murillo (Chia). 125--Irving Jaimez (Pro) inj. def. Nick Sweeny (EV); 3, Angel Abarca (Gvw) and Nick Sargent (Rich); 5, Daniel Guillen (SS) and Lucas Garza (Oth). 130--Alex Rockstrom (EV) p. Marco Gonzalez (Gvw) 5:42; 3, Christian Ruiz (SS-NS) and Isaac Guerrero (SS); 5, Michael Parkman (Han) and Gilbert Maycumber (Rich). 135--Chance Watt (RV) t.f. Isidro Ramirez (SS) 17-2; 3, Adam Jones (Rich); 5, Cameron Queener (RV-NS). 140--Dustin Utecht (Rich) m.d. Matt Jordan (Oth) 11-3; 3, Emmanuel Tejada (SS); 5, Rigo Valdez (SS-NS). 145--Preston Baich (WV) d. Matt Owens (Han) 10-4; 3, Ethan Groom (Pro); 5, David Vidales (SS) and Mario Prieto (Gvw). 152--Josh Romero (SS) m.d. Eddie Garza (Oth) 15-5; 5, Raule Gamboa (Gvw). 160--Joe Traverso (Han) d. Jaime Garcia (SS) 6-5; 3, Thomas Ruane (Rich); 5, Kevin Del Angel (SR). 171--Amando Deleon (Oth) d. Matt Mastonardi (EV) 5-2; 3, Casey Enderlin (Han) and Lupe Mendoza (SS); 5, Dillon Garza (Oth-NS). 189--Jose Martinez (Wap) d. Dustin Martin (Ike) 7-2; 3, Alberto Vargas (Oth); 5, Adrian Ramirez (SS) and Miguel Guzman (SS-NS). 215--Joey Gomez (Oth) d. Mitch Atwell (Rich) 7-3; 3, Franki Ochoa (SS); 5, Adam Morales (Gvw). 285--Brady Simpson (Rich) d. Aaron Christensen (EV) 7-4; 3, Bryce Reichert (Rich-NS) and Matt Gibson (SR); 5, George Rodriguez (Oth) and Ely Gonzalez (SS).