MAXWELL — One coach was happy to have a home dual, while the other wanted to show his team that wrestling was a sport followed in small towns as much as large ones.
Maxwell hosted Ralston Valley, Colo., in a dual on Thursday and the Wildcats rallied from a deep hole to win 42-36.
“This was great,” said Maxwell coach Ryan Jones. “I was thrilled with the turnout for our first dual match in 7 years.
“We had a good crowd and it was loud.”
Ralston Valley, located in Arvada, Colo., a northwest suburb of Denver, sought a dual prior to attending the Flatwater Fracas in Grand Island.
“We tried to do something last year, but all the teams were full,” said Mustangs head coach Bruce Pearson. “We talked to several schools and someone suggested Coach Jones at Maxwell.
“I got a hold of him and he sent a contract right away.”
Pearson, in his third year at Ralston Valley, coached for many years in California and is a proponent of traveling to tough tournaments for better competition.
“Coming here, I am able to show my wrestlers that wrestling is followed in the small towns just like the big ones,” Pearson said. “We prepared them a little. I pulled up the Maxwell web site and showed them the downtown.”
For Jones, it was an opportunity to host a dual and to get more matches for his team.
Maxwell suffered losses in six of the first seven matches, the only win coming at 220 when Charley Kesterson pinned Conner Zimmerman.
“Charley’s pin was huge for us,” Jones said. “They got on a roll and without the six points he got us, we don’t win.”
Maxwell’s rally from a 33-6 deficit started at 132 pounds. Ethan Lunkwitz earned a second period pin over Dominic Phifer to cut the lead to 33-12. Drew Riggs kept the momentum going with a second period pin of Danny Holz at 138 to cut the margin to 33-18.
Jaylon Sturdivant continued the rally at 145 pounds with an impressive first period pin of Russ Gonzalez at 145 pounds to cut the margin to 33-24. Ralston Valley was open at 152 pounds, giving Jacob Whisenhunt a forfeit win which dropped the lead to 33-30.
Taylor McKeeman of Maxwell gave the Wildcats their first lead in the dual with a pin over John Westbrook just before the first period ended. The pin gave the Wildcats a 36-33 advantage.
Cal Boland joined the pin party at 170 pounds with a second period pin of Tanner Hauptman to lift Maxwell to a 42-33 advantage with one match to go, sealing the win for the Wildcats.
The best match of the night was the final one at 182 pounds. Ralston Valley’s Steve Ullman, ranked in Colorado’s top five at 182, took on Dylan
Gage, who is ranked in Class D in Nebraska.
Gage took a 4-3 lead into the third period. Ullman chose down to start the third period and scored a reverse to take a 5-4 lead.
Gage tried to get an escape or reversal at the end of the period, but the referee ruled Ullman maintained control, giving the match to Ullman and the three team points to the Mustangs for the 42-36 final.
“That match was just a good match between two very good wrestlers,” Jones said. “It was Dylan’s first loss, but he’ll learn from it.”
After the match the Mustangs loaded up to travel to Grand Island.
“Even though we’re getting in late, we’ll be all right,” Pearson said. “Our first match isn’t until 1 p.m. against Grand Island, so we’ll get our rest.
“This is a fun trip and hopefully we can do this again next year.”