Wrestlers win eight matches | RecordCourier.com
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Wrestlers win eight matches

by Chuck Smock, Sports editor

Five Douglas wrestlers scored first-round pins Wednesday night at South Tahoe High to lead the Tigers to a 55-24 win over the Vikings.

South Tahoe led 24-12, thanks to two pins and two forfeits, through six of the 14 matches before Douglas got on a roll.

The Tigers won the last eight matches to improve to 4-1 in Northern 4A Region dual meets and 12-3 overall.

“I really thought it would have been a lot closer than that because of the forfeits we were giving up and the couple of the weight shifting things we had to do,” Douglas coach Bill Nickerson said. “The kids wrestled tough. I think that was probably the most intense they’ve been. They all came out ready to go and really were technically sound.

“They went out, they were focused, they were intense and they took care of business. That’s what it’s all about.”

Steve Magee started the final run with a 9-2 win in the 140-pound match. Magee made weight at 135, but Nickerson decided to forfeit that match and sent Magee to the mat at the higher weight.

“Forfeiting 35s and bumping Magee to 40s, we took a chance and it worked out of us,” Nickerson said. “Magee went up to 40s and wrestled tough.

“From there we just rolled.”

D’Art Johnson, who failed to make weight at 140 pounds, got a reprieve when the Tigers’ 145-pounder also couldn’t make weight.

Johnson stepped into the 145-pound match and needed only 40 seconds to pin J.T. Davis.

“I was angry because I didn’t make weight,” Johnson said. “We were down (24-15) when I went in. All I wanted to do was get in and get out. I just went in and took care of business.”

Sophomore Grant Hall followed with a first-round pin at 152 pounds. He needed barely more than one minute to defeat Ryan Davis and give the Tigers a lead they wouldn’t relinquish.

Drew Hall built a 10-1 lead over JoJo Miller in the first period of the 160-pound match. Hall pinned Miller midway through the second period.

Nathan Bennett gave the Tigers – who knew they would win a forfeit at 215 pounds – all the points they would need when he pinned Gumbo Sherpa with 27 seconds remaining in the first period of the 171-pound bout.

With his teammates encouraging him to “put on a wrestling clinic,” John Hillenbrand made quick work of Shane Ellis at 189 pounds. Hillenbrand pinned Ellis in 1:14.

Mark Butti finished the match with a hard-fought 14-3 win over David Vasquez in the heavyweight match. Butti, who appeared to be giving up at least 50 pounds to Vasquez, said being patient was a key to the victory.

“I was just trying to get him to tire out before the third round,” Butti said. “I was trying to do whatever I could not to get thrown on my back or to do something stupid where he could get on top of me, because if he did I’d be done.”

Butti, a first-year wrestler, stepped into the varsity heavyweight position after Joe Immers suffered a broken arm in the Tigers’ season-opening match with Fallon.

“I didn’t wrestle last year, so I’m kinda happy with how I’m doing,” Butti said. “I like how I’m wrestling right now. That’s thanks to Mattie Wilcks and a bunch of those seniors. They’ve helped me a lot.”

Romaine Smokey continued an impressive senior season with a first-round pin of Kyle Crouse at 125 pounds.

“I knew he was a young guy, so I just wanted to go out and get a quick pin,” Smokey said of the 52-second battle that he admitted wasn’t exactly perfect. “It was a sloppy match. I want to have all my moves perfected for zone and state. I want to feel confident in all my moves, and I’m working on that.”

Smokey and Bennett each won individual titles at the Lowry Invitational on Saturday.

“My goal was to leave there proud of myself and I was proud of myself after championships,” Smokey said. “That’s my goal from here on out, to leave every place I wrestle proud of myself.”

The Tigers won’t wrestle again until Saturday, Jan. 6, when they host the Douglas Invitational.

“We have a big break, but we’re still going to work hard in practice so it’s not really that much of a break,” Smokey said.