The Comeback Kid: CBA’s Sebastian Rivera Wins 113-Pound State Title With Epic Last-Second Pin
ATLANTIC CITY -- Put to his back early in the match, Sebastian Rivera was going to have to climb out from an early hole if he wanted to win a state championship.
The Christian Brothers Academy senior did exactly that with an epic win on Sunday night inside Boardwalk Hall.
Trailing by four entering the third period to Delbarton sophomore Patrick Glory, Rivera rallied to tie the bout before turning Glory for two back points, then pinning him with one second left to capture the 2016 NJSIAA 113-pound state championship in thrilling fashion.
As he put Glory to his back for the clinching points, Rivera looked up to the crowd and smiled, creating one of the lasting images of the entire state tournament.
"It hasn't hit me yet," Rivera said. "I looked up to see my dad and my coaches, and to see them jumping up and down and the place doing crazy; it was one of the best moments of my life. I'll never forget it."
Rivera ended a 46-year drought between state champions for CBA, becoming the Colts' first state champ since Pete Black won the 141-pound title in 1969. He was also the only state champion for the Shore Conference, which had a total of 12 state medalists.
"I wasn't going to give up down 4-0," Rivera said. "I messed up on that outside single and didn't pick it up off the mat. I was able to come back like Frankie Edgar always comes back. He's the comeback kid. Never count him out, and never count me out."
The most important match of his life didn't start the way he hoped. When he went for a single-leg takedown against Glory and didn't get the leg lifted high enough, Glory reached underneath and grabbed Rivera's leg, putting him to his back for a four-point move 45 seconds into the match.
"It was definitely tough," Rivera said. "But I looked at my coaches and they were still calm, and I looked up at my dad and (coach) Vinnie (DelleFave) and they were still calm. I was like, 'ok, I can pull this out'."
Glory chose defense in the second period, but Rivera never let him extend his lead by riding him out for the full two minutes. That would prove especially crucial.
Rivera started the third on defense and escaped to make it 4-1. The comeback had begun.
He took Glory down with 1:12 left in the third period, popping his head free after grabbing hold of Glory's left leg. He then let Glory to his feet to make it 5-3. He was halfway there.
Rivera drove forward with a double-leg takedown attempt that looked like it was going to tie the bout, 5-5, but Glory was able to scramble out of harm's way, and the two rolled out of bounds with 42 seconds remaining. Rivera, however, knew he had him where he wanted him.
"I felt him start to break," Rivera said. "After I took that double and he scrambled out of bounds I was like, 'wow, he doesn't have much left'."
Immediately after the ensuing restart, Rivera picked up Glory and drove him to the mat, tying the bout at five. But he wasn't done yet. Instead of just being content with holding Glory down and going to overtime, he baited him into making a move that would give Rivera the opportunity to win in regulation.
"I had a really deep tight waist and I knew the only way he could get out was if he jumped over," Rivera said. "If he jumped over I was going to hip right into his back, and he fell right for it. It was a beautiful way to end it."
Rivera turned Glory for a two-count, giving him two back points for a 7-5 lead. Glory basically gave up at the end, and Rivera finished off the pin with one second left to cap an incredible comeback to re-write the CBA wrestling history book.
It was a long road back for Rivera after losing in the state semifinals last season and finishing fifth, but he was able to get back on the road to a championship and finish the job.
"I would go to two practices a day, sometimes, to get ready for this," Rivera said. "Last year was disappointing to get fifth, but I got it done in my four years and that's all that matters to me."
Wrestling editor Bob Badders can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @Bob_Badders. Like Shore Sports Network on Facebook and subscribe to our YouTube channel for all the latest video highlights.