BARSTOW - On his back and nearly pinned, Joshua Espinoza had a plan even if didn't look like it.

Victor Valley wrestler Adrian Fields had the lead in points and Espinoza's shoulders nearly pinned on the ground.

He was just waiting for Fields' endurance to give out.

"I had endurance so I used it to my advantage," Espinoza said. "We work out harder than they do. I know we do. I found when he was tired, and I used that as a strong point for me."

In what turned out to be the pivotal match in the dual wrestling meet between Barstow and Victor Valley, Espinoza gave the Aztecs all the momentum they would need. Barstow used the emotional boost from Espinoza's match to take the meet 49-27.

Barstow now switches focus to the postseason. By beating Victor Valley, the Aztecs secured second place in the Desert Sky League and will wrestle at CIF-Southern Section Team Duals in two weeks.

Barstow coach Adam Hopkins explained to his squad that they had a the choice of wrestling another weekend as a team or focusing on individual wrestlers for the rest of the postseason. He said he was pleased with the his team's response.

"Apparently by their actions, they want to wrestle," Hopkins said.

The entire Desert Sky League will return to Barstow on Saturday of the DSL Finals meet. The meet begins at 11 a.m. Saturday at the Don Bilsborough Gymnasium.

Victor Valley spotted Barstow a 14-6 lead through forfeits before the wrestling even began. Victor Valley erased the deficit when Chris Swayze pinned Christian Salas in the 135-pound match. Swayze gained position on Salas and then pushed him around the mat until he could pin him to tie the meet at 24-24.

Mario Ortega (140 pounds) regained the Aztecs lead in the next match, pinning Alex Reed with 7.7 seconds remaining in the first period.

Espinoza, who's spent most of the season on the JV team, struggled early in the next match. Fields took a 4-1 lead after the first period and added two more points in the first 10 seconds of the second period. The Barstow bench yelled, "Come on fight" and Espinoza responded.

Fields had Espinoza on his side and almost pinned before the Barstow junior jumped out of his grasp and took down Fields.

"I feel like a new person all over again," Espinoza said."I had some family out in the crowd so I had to do my best. I wasn't going lose especially in front of my team, my family and in front of the people that came to see us."

The Jackrabbits never came close to equaling Barstow again.

"We were just hoping he'd give his best effort and here he puts six on the board," said Hopkins, who moved Espinoza to the 145-pound spot when Ortega dropped to 140-pounds. "It changes everyone's emotions."

Daniel Benavidez followed with a decision, and Samuel Telles out scored his opponent 20-8 for a major decision.

BARSTOW 49, VICTOR VALLEY 27 103 - Victor Valley won by forfeit.
112 - Silva (B) pinned Soles (V), 1:36.
119 - Cruz (V) pinned Chavez (B), :54.
125 - Jonathan Ortega (B) pinned Leonard (V), 2:36.
130 - Dickinson (V) pinned Benavidez (B), 2:58.
135 - Swayze (V) pinned Salas (B), 1:07.
140 - Mario Ortega (B) pinned Reed (V), 1:53.
145 - Espinoza (B) pinned Fields (V), 3:46.
152 - Daniel Benavidez (B) dec. Hudgens (V), 15-9.
160 - Telles (B) major dec. Lassier (V), 20-8.
171 - Duncan (V) dec. Locke (B), 6-3.
189 - Payne (B) pinned McClure (V), 2:20.
215 - McPheron (B) won by forfeit.
HWT - Mitchell (B) won by forfeit.

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matthew_peters@link.freedom.com