While the score might suggest domination, the reality of the Marauders 60-22 loss to the Chino Valley Cougars wrestling team came down to forfeits.
The Cougars earned 30 points from five forfeits. From wrestlers being out due to injury, grades or sickness, they were not able to field a full roster. Come Jan. 1, head coach Tim McKeever hopes to get all of those wrestlers back and if they meet Chino again, they might be in for a surprise.
"I think once we get all the spots filled and still, we're getting some people back to where they need to be, health wise ... but I think once we get all the spots filled and start going at it, we're going to be doing a lot better and Chino is going to have a surprise,"said Wyatt Midkiff.
Taking the team scores out of the picture for a minute, the Marauders matched up with the Cougars well. With a mix of first-year wrestlers and veterans, the coaching staff at Mingus saw what they were expecting from their wrestlers and were happy with the progress the rookies are making.
"Yeah, I though we wrestled well. We won the matches I thought we should, we lost a couple close matches that I think we could have won and on a different day we'd be all right. It gives us a really good gauge, and that's why I was so excited about Chino, to get a gauge of where we're at and get ready."
Starting the dual at 195 pounds, Midkiff got things going in dominant fashion. The junior handled his opponent, Chino Valley's Alex Ocampo and majoring him 12-4. Of Ocampo's four points, two were from escapes and two were from a takedown during the final round. Despite his dominant performance, Midkiff expected more from himself because of the expectations he has for himself.
"I had a lot going on in my mind the first match," MIdkiff said. "I did alright but I didn't perform up to the bar that I set for myself, but I did come out for my second match a lot stronger than I did [in my first match] and pinned the kid."
Over the next five matches, the Cougars tallied two forfeits and three pins. The next win for the Marauders came at 126 pounds, from Kyle Creech. Creech dominated his match, running the score to 11-1 at the end of the second stanza. In the final period, Creech had his opponent staring at the ceiling at the 3:59 mark.
The next three matches were two more pins and one more forfeit for the Cougars.
As the week of Dec. 14 came to an end, McKeever was without a 145 pounder. He talked with senior Dakota Hanks and was able to get him back on the team. Hanks was tossed into the mix right away and had his first match of the season on two-days notice.
"He did great," McKeever said. "The cool thing about Dakota is, I talked to him on sumo night and said, 'hey ... I really need you.' Dakota's never about himself, that's what I love about Dakota, he wanted to help the team out, so that's why he came back out. We kind of pushed him in, and he was a little rusty, he hasn't wrestled since some preseason stuff and he did great. We'll get him tuned up and I'm excited. He's probably one f the most unselfish athletes that we have at this entire school. Its just great to have him back on the team. I'm excited to see what he'll do."
Stepping onto the mat for the first time this season Hanks said he was a bit rusty, but did not look the part. The senior handled Cougar Ari Sotello. After getting a 4-0 advantage in the first, Hanks started the second on top of Sotello. From there he quickly worked and earned the pin at 2:40 of the middle round.
"The entire time I went on my old stuff, the stuff that I'm good at but not the stuff that will make me better, just easy stuff," Hanks said. "Some of my half-nelson's were rusty, my takedowns were rusty but it will take a little [time] to get there."
After Hanks, the Marauders had one more wrestler. Senior Dylan Wilbur made short work of Oscar Reyes, taking him down and pining him in the waning seconds of the first round.
Two more forfeits gave the Cougars 12 more points, putting the final score at 60-22.
After the Chino match up, the Marauders had short turnaround and dualed Mayer High School.
The Division-IV Wildcats put up as much fight as they could, but the younger and more inexperienced squad was not able to stack up with the Marauders. In total, there were seven forfeits. Mingus gave Mayer 12 points from empty roster spots and the Wildcats gave the host team 18 points. In the end, Mingus Union trampled the Wildcats 53-12.
Every match did was finished by the second round. Midkiff started things off with a pin with 0.39 remaining in the opening stanza. Freshman Zack Watson added another six at the 0.48 mark. Jacob Suekawa and Louis Galluzi added their own first round pins. Hanks did not pin his Wildcat, instead he cruised to a technical fall, besting Mayer's John Campbell 15-0. Wilbur finished things for the Marauders with a first round pin of his own.
With the dual done, the Marauders will not return to the mat until after the break when they travel to Tim's Toyota Center for the 2014 Mile High Challenge, Jan. 3-4. They return home to host Holbrook, Monument Valley and Payson on Jan. 8 with wrestling beginning at 3 p.m.
"Losing stinks," McKeever said. "Don't get me wrong, losing is horrible, but it is about qualifying as many kids at sectionals for state as possible and that's the goal. We've seen what we need to see now out of this. We've got a little bit of a break now, ... I'm hoping, if things keep progressing, we'll be at full-strength, not for the third and fourth [of January], for the mile high challenge, but on the eighth when we dual Payson, which is another tough team in our region. That's going to be our next big test, is wrestling Payson."