By Josh Bronson

Pilot staff writer

In their first dual meet of the year, the Brookings-Harbor High School wrestling team lost a competitive meet to the Illinois Valley Cougars Thursday night at home with a team score of 43-22.

The Bruins gave up 12 points due to forfeit in three different weight classes, but only lost by three points on the mat, 25-22.

andquot;I was really impressed with the kids,andquot; Coach Dave Freeman said. andquot;We wrestled really hard against some of their (Cougars) quality kids and you can't ask for more than that. It was a good outing for us.andquot;

Illinois Valley is considered one of the top tournament teams in the state, with several wrestlers returning after placing in last year's state tournament.

But the Bruins stuck with the experienced Cougars and fought with them tooth and nail in every match.

andquot;I think we can scare some people this year,andquot; Freeman said. andquot;We just have to work on some of our fundamental techniques, get better and progress.andquot;

The first match of the night was a tight one in the 145-pound weight class as Willie Bennett clashed with Sam Winter - last year's runner-up in the 140-pound division at state.

Bennett used a takedown and a reversal to take a 4-3 lead after the opening period.

The only points in period two were on a reversal by Winter to put him up 5-4.

In the third period, Bennett used good takedown defense to stuff Winter's shot, but then slipped over the head of Winter as he tried to throw him to the ground - ending up on bottom and at a 7-4 deficit.

Bennett was able to escape before the final buzzer, but still fell 7-5.

At 152 pounds, Cody Miller also had to face a state placer in Jacob Miller, who took fifth place in the 135-pound weight class.

C. Miller struggled to get any quality shots on J. Miller and his only points of the match came on escapes before being pinned at 3:36 of the second round.

Evan Peterson and Rion Beason put on a show for the packed house in the 160-pound weight class as Peterson used a pair of takedowns and a pair of escapes, along with one back point, to take a 7-4 lead after an action packed first round.

With a 10-5 lead in the second period, Peterson took down Beason right on to his back, squeezed down on his opponent and pinned him at 3:03 in the second.

In the 171-pound division, Denny Davis and Jacob Ellis battled to a 2-2 tie at the end of the first period.

Ellis took the advantage in the second, using a reversal and three near fall points to take a 7-2 lead into the third.

In the final period, Ellis didn't do much on top, but no stalling was called and Davis was unable to get out from under him and lost 7-2.

One of the most exciting finishes of the night was in the 189-pound weight class between Joel Mitts and Lance Tausaga.

Mitts trailed 3-1 at the start of the third period and then used an escape to cut the lead to one.

With both wrestlers obviously exhausted, Mitts was able to grab hold of a leg and power over a weary Tausaga with only 40 seconds left in the period.

andquot;I knew I needed a takedown and I just gave it a little extra and barely got it,andquot; Mitts said. andquot;Then I just worked on keeping him down and holding on.andquot;

Tausaga tried to get up on several occasions, but Mitts was able to take him back down or run him out of bounds each time amid the deafening roar from the crowd for a 4-3 win.

Mike Althof had another exciting finish in the 215-pound division, but this one did not go the Bruins way as Althof lost to Tim Pope 13-10.

Althof used an escape to take a 10-8 lead with less than a minute left in the third period.

As the two stood up toe-to-toe, Althof stopped a shot by Pope, but as he tried to throw him to the mat, Althof lost his footing and fell backwards, with Pope landing on top and earning the takedown as well as three near fall points for the last-second, 13-10 win.

The fans were once again treated to an exciting match as Ray Mazyck and Larry Ragsdale fought at 119 pounds.

Ragsdale took a 3-2 lead on an escape with 40 seconds left in the third period, but Mazyck was able to muster up enough in the reserve tank to grab hold of a leg and take down Ragsdale with 18 seconds left for the dramatic 4-3 win.

Erik Olsen and Tommy Gilstrap ran into a pair of formidable opponents as Olsen lost to Jon Anderson 15-2 in the 125-pound weight class and Gilstrap was pinned by Quayde Fisher in 3:05 at 130 pounds.

At 135 pounds, Mike Schabeck had the quickest pin of the night as he used sheer brute strength to muscle Lucas Harris to the mat and pinned him in 17 seconds for the decisive victory.

Dustin Paradis showed his superior strength in his 140-pound match as he tossed Michael Burns all over the mat in a 10-1 win.

In JV action, Ian Mjelde had an impressive showing in his first match of the year as he pinned his opponent with 15 seconds to spare in the final period.

The Bruins will be wrestling at the Del Norte Tournament today (Dec. 1) in Crescent City, with action beginning at 10 a.m.