KIRKLAND, Wash. - Starting out in a six-point hole came back to haunt the Juneau-Douglas High School wrestling team in the championship match of the Rebel Duals.
The Crimson Bears had to forfeit their match at 103 pounds when Dante Santos failed to make weight, and that six-point initial deficit was enough for the Snohomish Panthers to pull out a 30-25 victory in the championship dual meet of the eight-team tournament held Saturday at Juanita High School.
Despite the forfeit, the Crimson Bears did lead most of the match. But a couple of early pins not completed by Juneau wrestlers let the Panthers stay close enough so Snohomish heavyweight Mac Stach's pin of Kevin Wilkins decided the final team scores. Snohomish won the final three weight classes to pull out the victory.
"We wrestled really great, those of us who wrestled," said Juneau junior Gerry Carrillo, who wrestled at 119 pounds instead of his usual 112. "That forfeit really hurt. If we had a full team, it would have been different. But this is going to prepare us for next week at East."
"I really wanted to win that one," said Wilkins, who gave up 50 pounds to Stach in the 275-pound match. "It was a fun trip."
It was a quick trip for the Crimson Bears, who didn't arrive in Seattle until very late Friday night and didn't get to Juanita High School, where they slept on the wrestling room mats, until after midnight. The Crimson Bears held an early morning practice, trying to help a couple of wrestlers cut that extra pound or so before morning weigh-ins.
The tournament had a late start due to a miscommunication between tournament organizers and the meet officials over the starting time, but once it got going the Crimson Bears and the Panthers quickly separated themselves out from the rest of the teams.
In the opening round, Juneau gave up six points with the forfeit at 103 pounds, then went on to win the rest of the matches (with eight pins) to claim a 69-6 victory over Archbishop Thomas Murphy, a small school that just moved up from Class 1A to Class 2A and has a wrestling program that's only in its second year. Snohomish dominated Bellevue Christian School 77-3, while Bethel beat host Juanita 47-36 and Interlake beat Skyline 48-36.
The top two teams continued their domination in the semifinals, as Juneau beat Bethel 51-16 and Snohomish came within one point of perfect score with an 83-0 victory over Interlake.
In the final dual meet, Juneau 112-pounder Sungie Musarra quickly tied the team score with his pin of Paul Thier, then Carrillo gave Juneau the lead when he won a 5-3 decision over Troy Walker at 119. Walker dropped from 130 in the semifinals to wrestle Carrillo, who had Walker on his back when the second period ended.
"It was a good tournament, some tough teams," Musarra said.
Juneau would hold the team lead until Stach's victory, but Snohomish stayed close throughout. Cody Wolf won an 11-4 decision for Juneau at 125 pounds, while Clinton Clark claimed a 14-0 major decision at 135 in a bout he dominated and three times had three-point near falls. The Crimson Bears also picked up a couple of close decisions by Garret Cox at 140, Phillip Moser at 152 and John Kuterbach at 171.
"I didn't want to have losing as my way to go out," said Clark, who lost a decision in the semifinals. "We were missing a lot of people and they had kind of a home-court advantage."
Juneau led 25-18 after Kuterbach's victory, needing just one win in its final three bouts to claim the title. Jake Mason stayed within two points for most of the match before dropping a 12-7 decision to Nick Mundell at 189, then Justin Mathers did the same before dropping a 13-7 decision to Stewart at 215 in a match where Mathers gave up about 35 pounds.
"I was surprised I was scoring points," said Mathers, a recent arrival to Juneau from Lacey, Wash., who had his grandmother, aunts and several cousins in the audience. "He was tough."
That left Juneau with a one-point, 25-24, lead entering the heavyweight bout, which ended in just 50 seconds as Stach used his weight advantage to counter Wilkins' height.
Despite the tough finish, the Crimson Bears were happy to take second place. The quick trip - the Crimson Bears flew home Saturday night after less than 24 hours in the Seattle area - gave the team a little time to gel, while providing the younger wrestlers some good experience to build on the rest of the season.
"This is the first time for me to be in Washington to wrestle," Wolf said. "I knew it'd be better than Southeast. Some of our young guys really came through for us, especially in those first couple of duals. It was a good variety of wrestling."
Complete Juneau results will appear in Monday's Empire.
Charles Bingham can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org