The Pavilion was packed. It was the final match of the night. The Aggies were down 22-18.
Then No. 15 Barrett Abel stepped up for UC Davis to face San Francisco’s Josh Nolan in the 149-pound division.
On the annual “Beauty and the Beast” event, Abel proved to be the beast, earning the fall against Nolan and propelling the Aggies to the 24-22 victory over the Gators.
Abel wasn’t the only nationally ranked wrestler to perform well on Friday.
No. 15 junior Brandon Low earned a decision at the 133-pound class while No. 15 heavyweight junior Ricky Alcala took care of his opponent with a major decision at 285-pounds.
Freshman Trevor Machado-Ching got a decision at the 157-pound division and sophomore Joey Wilson earned a technical fall at the 165-pound class.
With the dramatic last-second victory behind them, the Aggies took to the mats again the next night.
This time the opponent proved to be tougher.
UC Davis (3-10, 1-4) fell to Pac-10 Conference rival Stanford in a heartbreaker, 20-19.
“It’s never fun to lose like that and hopefully we can improve a little before [the Pac-10] conference [tournament],” said head coach Lennie Zalesky
The Cardinal overcame a forfeit at 285-pounds and a major decision by Machado-Ching to get their first conference win of the year.
Abel and Low each earned decisions in their classes while senior Bryan Osuna got a decision at 141.
The pair of the duals were the Aggies’ last home matches of the year until they return to the Pavilion for the Pac-10 tournament which starts Feb. 26.
UC Davis takes on Cal Poly and Cal State Bakersfield next weekend to conclude their regular season. Two weeks later, the Pavilion will open its door to the Pac-10 Tournament.
KYLE HYLAND can be reached at email@example.com.