The memory had festered inside Central Valley 178-pound wrestler Joe Thiefault for a year.
His 5-4 loss in the last match of the Bear-Gonzaga Prep match cost CV a piece of the Greater Spokane League championship.
“Last year I choked,” he said. “Last year I dropped the ball and didn’t want it to happen again.”
Thiefault cradled Prep’s Nick Sullivan for a pin 39 seconds into the second round, helping CV to Thursday’s 35-22 triumph over last year’s co-champions.
“It was a nice birthday present is what it was,” said Thiefault. “But mostly it was a team thing. Last year was so close.”
In five Greater Spokane League matches, Thiefault has pinned every wrestler except one, a 15-8 decision over state placer David Sandberg when Thiefault moved up a weight to 190.
The Bears are likewise unbeaten with three matches remaining.
Up next is University (4-1) in the annual Battle of the Bone.
“Anything can happen in that match,” said CV coach Dale Ethridge. “This (win) was great for us going into U-Hi.”
Brandon Brown’s sudden-death overtime takedown in the night’s first match set the tone for CV’s evening. Ahead 5-0 he gave up a takedown and was put on his back for the match’s final 50 seconds of regulation to force OT.
Following a pin by Prep’s Nick Bliss, CV won three straight matches, including Thiefault’s pin, for a 15-6 lead.
It was a lead the Bears maintained, although tenuously after Brandon Bouge was docked a controversial two-point stall with one second remaining in a 6-5 loss at 215 pounds.
Bouge trailed Jason Francis when he got a single leg takedown for a 4-3 advantage with 24 seconds remaining. He appeared to be riding out the win when he was penalized.
Instead of an 18-9 lead, the Bears were only up 15-12 with seven matches left.
The Bears won five of them, however for their victory.
“It feels great,” said Shane Cunanan whose win as time ran out in the night’s next-to-last match clinched the contest. “We came so close last year. This is a big thing.”
Well, maybe not as big as next Thursday’s battle for the Bone.
Hulbert, Cossette spark unbeatens
For University Titan gymnasts Tara Hulbert and Kalie Cossette, Thursday night’s GSL competition was a meet within a meet.
While the Titans scored 171.7 points while winning a 25th consecutive league four-way meet, the two athletes were battling each other for individual bragging rights.
Hulbert prevailed by a mere .05 point and the two divided up four individual event wins.
The pair averaged just under 9.0 per event. Hulbert scored 35.75, including a near-flawless 9.4 bar routine. She also scored 9.0 on beam.
Cossette scored 35.7, including 9.1 on vault and 9.2 on floor exercise.
U-Hi is 15-0 and hosts 10-5 Central Valley next Thursday. The third-place Bears scored a solid 165.4, losing by a .5 point to league runnerup Ferris.
The difference was floor exercise, where Ferris had the top three placers.
CV’s Lindsay Linerud and Sarah Shryack finished second and third all around, placing that way in three individual events.
Two weeks remain to the season.
Future Lady Eagles basketball
West Valley High School players and coaches are offering a Future Lady Eagles Basketball League and clinic for young ladies in grades 2-6.
The three-week program runs from 8 to 11 a.m. beginning with registration and shooting instruction Jan. 25.
On Feb. 8 and 15, players will practice and play games, including a session-ending tournament.
The clinic and games are free and registrants will be admitted free to remaining Eagle home games. T-shirts are available for purchase for $10. For information call Mark Kuipers at 922-5488.