A smart lineup and a strong finish carried Millikan girls’ wrestling to a 39-30 victory over visiting Montclair on Saturday in the second round of the CIF Southern Section Division 1 playoffs.
After Montclair took the first five matches, four of them via pin, they were up 30-0 on the Rams. However, Millikan coach Blake Lovato switched up his lineup at 101 and 106 pounds to force Montclair into a string of forfeits.
“It’s a tough spot to be in but you have to make those adjustments and hope that they work out,” Lovato said.
Those points got the Rams back into the match, and then seniors Peyton Roberts and Sophia Miller came up with a pair of quality wins to put Millikan over the top.
“I honestly wasn’t nervous because (coach Lovato) is really good at setting up lineups,” Miller said of trailing 30-0. “I trust him. If he needs me to go up or down a weight I’m going to do it no matter what.”
Lovato said that Montclair tried to bump their 101 wrestler to 106, but he countered by shifting his lineup to force their hand.
Roberts won a hard-fought battle at 116 pounds by a score of 9-2, and then Miller pinned her opponent in the first round of her 126-pound bout. Roberts, Miller and Destiny Moreno (106 lbs.) are all going to Fresno on June 13 to compete in the unofficial State meet for the top wrestlers in California. Miller is ranked No. 12 in the state.
Millikan is dedicating this season to assistant coach Phirom “Coach Peeh” Muon who passed away due to COVID-19 last year.
“Coach Peeh was always my coach and losing him was really difficult,” Miller said. “My last match at Paramount I was really struggling and I was just thinking of what he would say to me and thinking what he would tell me. It kind of makes me stronger because I know he would be yelling at me to keep the pressure on her. I just miss him a lot because he was such a great coach.”
The Rams will compete in the quarterfinal round on Wednesday.