MINDEN - Last Saturday at the Capitol City Duals at Carson High, the Douglas High wrestling team shocked a few teams by finishing second in the 10-team tournament. Galena, meanwhile, finished seventh. So when the two teams met on Wednesday at Douglas High, the Tigers were thought to be the obvious favorite.
But Douglas wasn't exactly the same team it was in the tournament. Four Tiger wrestlers were ruled academically ineligible for Wednesday's match and one team member couldn't wrestle because he was sick, which opened the door for Galena, who held on for a 37-31 win.
Douglas coach Bill Nickerson was forced to replace his missing starters with J.V. wrestlers. Making Nickerson's problems even worse, those same wrestlers had to wrestle one weight class above their normal weight. And those four wrestlers were in the lower weight classes. So as expected, the Grizzlies won seven of the first eight matches, two of them by forfeit as they led 31-10.
"I'm not taking anything away from Galena because they did what they needed to do to win," Nickerson said. "But we were only at 60 percent."
Douglas was forced to make a comeback at the higher weight classes. The rally started off right in the 152-pound match when the Tigers' Grant Hall defeated Robert Turek 12-5. In the following match, the Grizzlies' Chris Fritz defeated Drew Hall 8-5 in what proved to be a pivotal match as Galena led 34-13. Because Hall lost, Douglas had to pin its next four opponents to win the match.
But what seemed like a difficult task was made easy by the Tigers. Nathan Bennett pinned the Grizzlies' James McMorran in 35 seconds. Then John Hilldenbrandt pinned his opponent, Zane Catterell less than 20 seconds into their match. And at 215 pounds, the Tigers' Mark Butti won by forfeit as Douglas cut Galena's lead to 34-31.
It all came down to the 275-pound match between Galena's Mia Jones and Matt Wilcks, who was originally scheduled to wrestle at 215 pounds.
"I moved Wilcks to the last match because I just felt that he gave us the best chance to win," Nickerson said.
Jones, who had a 60-pound weight advantage over Wilcks, narrowly won the match 3-2. During the match, it appeared that Wilcks may have pinned Jones but the official didn't make the call.
"That was a close one that could've won it for us but I thought that there were a few calls that weren't made," Nickerson said. "But it was an exciting match."
"We're a young team and the plan is to get better throughout the season," Galena coach Jade Alvarado said. "Douglas was missing a lot of wrestlers so we moved everybody around in the rotation to give us the best chance to win and it worked out."