A year ago, Northridge waited, waited and waited some more.
The Grizzlies waited for their side of the scoreboard to flash during their wrestling meet against powerhouse Windsor.
They waited through all 14 matches. That one, single elusive win never came.
On Thursday in Reg Figal Gymnasium, however, Northridge didn’t have to wait long, nor did it have to wait often.
The Wizards received a worthy workout in their season opener, edging the gritty Grizzlies 39-33.
“They’ve gone from fielding half a team, and (now) the new coach (Lance Mijares) has definitely brought some energy,” Windsor coach Monte Trusty said of Northridge. “It’s awesome.”
Though the Wizards (1-0) wrestled without some members of their normal lineup — who were out for various reasons, according to Trusty — Trusty took nothing away from how the Grizzlies (0-2) pushed his squad.
“We’ll be a different team (in coming weeks), but I wouldn’t take anything away from them,” Trusty said. “They fought with tremendous energy and heart, and they out-wrestled us at a lot of positions.”
The tightly contested dual and the adrenaline-filled atmosphere was a far cry from the last time the teams dualed.
“We wrestled (Windsor) last year and we didn’t win one, single match,” Mijares said. “It was 86-0. It was at the point where I didn’t even know what to say to my boys. ... It’s exciting to know we can come in here against teams like this and at least hang.”
Windsor won seven of 11 contested matches, earning four pins and benefiting from one forfeit.
Northridge had three pins and two wins via forfeit.
Windsor took a quick 12-0 lead after picking up a trio of decisions in the first three matches, including a hard-fought 4-3 win by Josh Villa over Juan Lopez in the first match of the dual, at 120 pounds.
The Grizzlies didn’t sulk.
Northridge responded with three straight wins of its own, including back-to-back pins by Willie Castillo at 138 and Erick Palomino-Romero at 145.
Christian Dodge’s 9-3 win against Micha Fralick at 152 give the Grizzlies a surprising mid-dual lead, 15-12, with eight matches remaining.
Palomino-Romero said his and Castillo seemed to raise the confidence of a Northridge team that has steadily rebuilt its program during the past year.
“I think it comes from our coaches — Lance and the assistants — they’ve put it in our minds that we can’t be scared of anybody, and we have to come out here and wrestle tough against whoever it is,” Palomino-Romero said. “If it’s Windsor or, like Tuesday night, (Greeley) West — we have to go out, fight and not give up against anybody.”
Windsor — a perennial Class 4A title contender — showed plenty or resolve.
After Dodge’s win at 152, the Wizards won four straight contested matches.
Their budding momentum wasn’t disrupted a bit by having to forfeit matches at 220 and heavyweight, which provided the only points Northridge scored in the second half of the dual before 113-pounder Logan Mills pinned Collin Brady in 4:50 in the last match of the night.
The pendulum swung in Windsor’s favor with Brandon Brauser’s 12-9 win against Northridge’s Dillon Dreher at 195.
As the two wrestlers traded leads throughout the match, Dreher appeared poised to hand his Grizzlies could have been a dual-deciding win, going up 9-7 with 37 seconds left, after taking down Brauser, recording a near fall, surrendering a reversal and notching an escape.
Dreher tried to tack on, but a failed shot turned into a take down for Brauser to tie the match at 9 with 19 seconds left.
Brauser took full advantage of the opportunity, locking Dreher in a cradle with eight seconds left and maintaining the hold as time expired for a trio of match-winning back points.
“I just focused in on what I had to do,” Brauser said. “It was a good challenge, and I think it really got me going. ... I was working hard, and at the end I was really tired. But, I was glad I worked hard all the way through and got the win.”
120 pounds — Josh Villa, W, def. Juan Lopez, 4-3; 126 — Jonathan Lewis, W, pinned Johnathan Guerrero, :49; 132 — Matteo Ambriz, W, def. Justus Strand, 8-2; 138 — Willie Castillo, N, pinned Scott Haltom, 3:18; 145 — Erick Palomino-Romero, N, pinned Nolan Moore, 3:29; 152 — Christian Dodge, N, def. Micha Fralick, 9-3; 160 — Nick Sadek, W, won by forfeit; 170 — Kennen Lanteri, W, pinned Zack Nirode, 3:19; 182 — Joseph Keller, W, pinned Nickolas Sitchenko, :40; 195 — Brandon Brauser, W, def. Dillon Dreher, 12-9; 220 — Jayce Montoya, N, won by forfeit; 285 — Joshua Williamson, N, won by forfeit; 106 — Sam Zdenek, W, pinned Jordan Jackson, 1:14; 113 — Logan Mills, N, pinned Collin Brady, 4:50.