Based on its performance at the Damonte Ranch Duals, the Carson High wrestling team had been the team to beat.
That meant the Senators had a target on their chests. And Carson found out life at the top could be short when they fell to the Tigers on Wednesday.
The Senators made themselves the early season favorite to win the Northern 4A title by winning the Damonte Ranch Duals on Saturday. Carson beat defending Northern 4A champion Fallon and Northern 4A powers Douglas and Galena on their way to the crown.
But it looks like it's going to be a wide open chase for the zone title after the Senators' loss to Douglas.
Carson will have another chance to show it could be the team to beat when Galena, Fallon and Douglas will be among the teams who will compete in Saturday's Capital City Duals at Carson High. Wrestling begins at 9 a.m.
Central California power Lemoore will return to the event after beating the Senators for last year's title. Carson is also coming off a season in which it finished second at zone to Fallon and is trying win its second zone crown in three years after taking the title in 2004.
"They're going to come gunning for us," first-year coach Casey Schweitzer said before Wednesday's match. "But that's what it's all about. This team I definitely think is up for the challenge."
Based on the early season results, a zone title should be within reach, Schweitzer said. "We have a lot of improving to do, but definitely it's a realistic goal," he said.
Schweitzer comes to Carson with a strong wrestling pedigree. In his first year as a health and physical education teacher at Carson, Schweitzer also served as an assistant football coach this past season.
He was a four-time conference champion at NAIA Valley City State in North Dakota, a two-time All-American and won the national title at 158 pounds in 1990. He went on to coach in Oregon, Washington and Montana before coming to Carson.
Ten wrestlers with significant varsity experience last year return to this year's team. It looks like two of those wrestlers - Owen Craugh and Todd Banko - will battle it out at 112 pounds, although either wrestler could possibly move up to 119. At 106 pounds, Craugh had to wrestle at 119 at Damonte Ranch.
Craugh, a junior, is a two-time state qualifier while Banko took fourth at zone last year and went 5-0 at Damonte Ranch. There's still a slight chance that Craugh may be able to wrestle at 103, but Schweitzer said it's unlikely.
Carson is also deep at 125 with Adam Carmazzi and Brian Halverson, two more returning veterans. Carmazzi qualified for state at 112 last year, but finds himself behind Halverson, who went 5-0 at Damonte Ranch.
Kyle Banko, a state qualifier last year, is at 130 and went 5-0 at Damonte Ranch. Another two-time state qualifier, Robbie Bozin, a junior, is at 135 where he pinned all five of his opponents at Damonte Ranch.
Sophomore Aaron Jolcover, who saw time on the varsity last season, is at 140 and Dan Scarborough is at 145. Carson sustained a tough loss when it lost its 152-pounder from last year in Loren Wooldridge, who is out for the year with nerve damage in his hip.
Wooldridge tried to come out at the beginning of the season, but the injury was too much to overcome. Wooldridge, a senior, took second in the NIAA 4A State Championships last year and would have definitely been a contender to win state this season.
But Carson has another definite contender to win state in Travis Lamborn at 160. Lamborn, a junior, is a two-time state qualifier and took third at state last year. Lamborn went 5-0 at Damonte Ranch as well.
"He just improves every day he comes into practice," Schweitzer said. "He's very smooth, a very good technical wrestler."
The Senators also still have a solid wrestler at 152 in Martin Azzam, who Schweitzer called "a very physical wrestler."
Ahron Osheroff, who took fourth at zone last year, is at 171 and Jonas Schenzel, who was fourth in zone a year ago, is at 189. "Day in and day out he's getting better," said Schweitzer about Schenzel.
Three football players have come out to provide the team depth in the upper weights. Josh Mynear is at 215 and Zach Taylor and Eric Walther are at heavyweight.
There are 32 wrestlers in the program, with 15 freshmen and sophomores. "We've got a good nucleus of kids to fill the team around," Schweitzer said. "We've got a good amount of younger kids."
Schweitzer was obviously pleased with last weekend's effort. "Any time you can start with five wins and no losses, you don't have much to complain about," he said.
But Schweitzer said his team can't rest on its accomplishments. "Getting it is one thing, but maintaining it is another," Schweitzer said. "The guys we beat we'll be trying to get us back. We can't let down our guard."
Other teams in Saturday's event will include, McQueen, North Valleys, Reed, Reno High, Wooster and Hug.