Bruins freshman Conrad Dethlefsen, top, watches his opponent’s shoulder blade inch closer to the floor as he looks for a pin in Thursday night’s match at Illinois Valley High School. The Pilot/Jef Hatch
Bruins wrestling head coach Dave Freeman knew it would be a tough match-up when he scheduled a wrestling meet against the Cougars of Illinois Valley High School.
“I.V. is always a tough program. They didn’t graduate hardly any senior wrestlers last year,” he said. “They could have a good shot at winning the team title at state this year if they don’t lose anybody.”
While he knew it would tough for his athletes to win -- the final team score was 24-57 in favor of Illinois Valley -- he scheduled the meet to get them in shape and ready to wrestle later in the season. Many Bruins teams utilize the same strategy; scheduling tough pre-season opponents to prepare for their Far West League season.
“I expected tonight to end the way it did,” Freeman said. “Our goal is to get good by districts.”
The evening began with a victory; freshman 120-pounder Bubba Spencer defeated Gino Perata in the night’s only JV match.
Spencer dominated from the first whistle and was ahead 12-0 headed into the third and final period when he reversed Perata, put him on his back and held on for the pin.
“It was great to be successful,” Spencer said. “I’ve worked hard and the win makes me want to work harder.”
Unfortunately for the Bruins the win didn’t count toward their final team score and it would take a few more matches before they could get another win.
Levi Williams was pinned by Gabe Miller in just 27 seconds. Miller, a senior, was a third-place finisher at state in February and is favored to claim the title this year for the 3A division.
Shane Carabello, a relative newcomer to wrestling, was pinned by Logan Miller in the second period.
Senior Brandon Holteen had a chance to win his match against Erik Householder -- he was leading 4-2 -- when he got caught in a kneestack and pinned in the first period.
In the 152-pound weight class, senior Eddie Yeager claimed the first varsity victory by pinning Jordan Rubenstein in 1:12.
“It felt pretty good,” Yeager said. “Proud to do it my senior year and it makes me excited for the Del Norte Tournament and the rest of the year.”
Freeman was excited by Yeager’s performance.
“That was awesome,” he said. “Eddie’s got a ways to go, but once he gets going he’s going to surprise a lot of people. He is quick, scrappy and strong and doesn’t look like it so it is a bit of a surprise.”
Tyler Marrington faced T.J. Hughey and was pinned in the second period.
Senior Ethan Williams looked to be outmatched by John Britt in the opening moments of his round but refused to surrender and scored two on a reversal just before the first period ended with the score 2-4. A battle in the second period only allowed one point for each wrestler and while both wrestlers got reversals in the third period to take the score to its final 5-7 Williams couldn’t force a reversal from the bottom as time ran out in the third and he lost.
The Bruins claimed just one forfeit -- C.J. Paxton at 195 pounds -- while giving up two at 113 and 120 pounds.
Johnny Feuerborn lost his match at 205 pounds, followed by Tristen Lawson losing by pin at 285 pounds.
The Bruins second varsity win came at 106 pounds where freshman Conrad Dethlefsen pinned Dennis Nguyen in the second round after leading 7-2 in the first.
The final two matches of the night were losses for the Bruins -- Brycen Cessnun and Adan Brambila both lost by pin in the first rounds of their respective matches.
The Bruins travel south on Saturday to the Battle of the Border at Del Norte High School. The first match is scheduled to begin at 10 a.m.