Tiger heavyweight hurt in wrestling match
The Douglas wrestling team experienced an incredible range of emotions Wednesday in its season-opening dual match with Fallon in the Churchill County High School gym.
The Tigers trailed the Greenwave, 30-17, after eight of the 14 scheduled matches before Douglas junior D’Art Johnson pulled out a thrilling overtime victory against David McKnight at 152 pounds.
Johnson’s win was the first of five in row for the Tigers. Senior Matt Wilcks finished the remarkable comeback, and secured the 41-36 team victory, when he pinned Fallon senior Sam Keele in the 215-pound match.
The Tigers were mere minutes away from celebrating their triumph when the unthinkable happened in the heavyweight match. Douglas junior Joe Immers suffered fractures to both the radius and the ulna bones in his left forearm after he and Fallon’s Jeff Prinz rolled awkwardly over Immers’ arm.
The Tigers and a crowd of more than 200 wrestling fans waited silently for 30 minutes as paramedics attended to Immers on the mat. The medical personnel eventually immobilized Immers’ arm in an air brace before administering pain killers through an IV.
The crowd, made up largely of concerned Fallon students and supporters, gave Immers a rousing standing ovation when the big Tiger finally was able to make it to his feet. They cheered again a few minutes later as paramedics wheeled Immers out of the gym on a stretcher.
“I’ve never seen anything like this,” said referee Walter Marrietta, a Fernley resident who has worked wrestling matches for nine years. “I was on the back side looking for the pin. When I came around and saw his arm, I was like ‘Oh my God.'”
The Tigers – to a man -were visibly shaken after the match.
“I feel real bad for Joe,” said Douglas senior Drew Hall, who rallied to beat Chad Castle, 9-7, in a pivotal 160-pound match. “He’s worked incredibly hard this season. It’s unbelievable to see something like this happen right at the start.
“He’s probably the hardest worker on the team. He does everything extra for the team and he never thinks about himself. It’s really hard to see him go down.”
Douglas coach Bill Nickerson was stunned, too.
“I feel terrible for the kid,” the Tigers’ first-year head coach said. “He’s a hard worker in practice. He really busts his butt for us. For that to happen 30 seconds into his first match of the year is a heart-breaker for us.”
The injury to Immers obviously overshadowed what had been a great team victory.
Douglas’ Allen Anderson got the Tigers on the board with a first-round pin of Fallon’s Mark Hubbard in the 119-pound match.
Romaine Smokey was the only other Douglas wrestler to post a win in the first six bouts. Smokey dominated Fallon’s Jake Cheek at 125 pounds, winning by technical fall, 18-3.
“I tested out a lot of new moves and felt pretty comfortable on the mat,” Smokey said. “I just didn’t get my pin, and that’s what I wanted. I tried hard. He was a pretty tough little kid.”
The Tigers trailed 24-11 when Steven Magee took the mat for the 140-pound match. Magee, who is a natural 135-pounder, built a 7-3 lead against Jason Maynez in the first period and then pinned him in the second.
“Steven Magee wrestled like a champ,” Nickerson said. “He really came through.”
Johnson and Hall then had back-to-back wins at 152 and 160 to get the Tigers rolling. Johnson scored a quick takedown in overtime to claim a 6-4 victory.
Castle, Fallon’s thickly muscled 160-pounder, owned a 7-6 lead over Hall with 30 seconds left in the match. Hall remained calm, however, and scored a takedown and near-fall points for a 9-7 win.
“I knew it was going to be close at the end and I knew the team needed the points,” Hall said. “We’ve been working hard in practice and third round is supposed to be our round. Coach works us hard every single day. The conditioning pays off in the end.
“I give him (Castle) a lot of credit. He’s really tough.”
Douglas junior Nathan Bennett destroyed Fallon freshman Shaine Powers in the 171-pound match. Bennett pinned Powers 45 seconds into the first round.
DHS senior John Hillenbrand claimed a forfeit at 189 pounds, setting the stage for Wilcks.
“Right before the match started, coach told me if I win this match we win the meet,” Wilcks said. “There was a little pressure on me, but I guess it worked out for the best.
“Coach has been telling us we’re going to restart the tradition that Douglas wrestling once was. I guess this a good start for it.”
“I think this is really something to build on,” Hall added. “I think things are going to change this year. I think we’re going to come out a little better than we have in previous years, finish a little better, be a little tougher, be a little stronger. And I think we’re going to build the program up to what it should be.”
Nickerson was pleased to see his guys battle and pull out a tough victory. He wasn’t exactly satisfied, though.
“It was really an exciting dual match,” the coach said. “I’m real proud of the kids. We were down big there for a while.
“It was a great win. We’re happy, but we have a lot of things to work on. We’re going to enjoy the win tonight. Come tomorrow, we’re right back to the grind, working on things we need to work on and conditioning as hard as we can to get into shape.”