The fact the Mexico varsity wrestling team is sending 11 wrestlers to the state meet is definitely a reason to celebrate, but once districts were drawing to a close head coach Gayle Adams gave the distinct impression he thought some individuals didn't stay focused as long as he needed them to.
"We'll be better next week. I promise," said Adams directly after day two of districts. "We didn't perform, and that's partially my fault. I'll get them ready."
One way to try and parallel how a wrestler might perform in the specific conditions the state meet provides would be to compare it to how they faired at something like the quad meet the Bulldogs hosted on Jan. 19 that featured Centralia, Eldon and Sullivan. For example, these results can definitely tell you Carter Maxwell at 106 is much improved since then and that meet was less than a month ago. Losing to Sullivan's Dillon Witt in 4:51 was a valuable learning experience and it's paying dividends.
For the Bulldogs Brayan Juarez at 113, this meet mirrors his district showing in that he started district with two byes and he also had two byes at this event. The difference was in January he downed Sullivan's Luke Dixon by major decision 13-2 in his only bout at that event, but at districts he finished fourth and, without those byes, he went 1-2 on day two.
Mexico's Kevin Duong at 126 exhibited a pattern at the quad meet of winning by pin in the first round. While that's often easier said than done, with that approach comes a mindset thats both simple and to the point. It's about trying one technique, and then another, and then another until finally something takes hold. If Duong can once again block out everything else and just let his natural talents take over, there isn't much he can't accomplish on the mat.
Dylan Patton at 132 for the Bulldogs has a similar mentality that seems to drive him impulsively towards that early pin. He's been steady all season long for coach Adams and his staff and all he need to do to be successful is the same thing he's been doing all year.
Dillon Nichols at 138 had two byes at this event, so while it might not appear obvious what he does best, the one match he did have says it all. In that contest he earned a 17-2 technical fall against Sullivan's Kobie Blankenship. That speaks volumes about his ability to do anything his opponent can do and then some. There's no position he can't work from, and that bodes well for his chances this weekend.
As for Mexico's Vinny Vitale at 160, the quad meet was a perfect example of how he goes about his business because that day he worked like crazy to earn three victories by fall. If he's going to make a name for himself at the state meet that's exactly how he's going to get it done, through hard work. He might not be flashy, but if he takes advantage of anything and everything his opponents give him, the chances for victory get better by the match.
"We injury defaulted the third place match at 160 at districts because he got illegally slammed," Adams said. "He''s a little soar right now, but he'll be ready for the state meet. It's just a precaution. We just want to make sure we're ready to go this weekend."
When it comes to Kellen Ekern at 170 and Terrese Aaron at 285, it's a shame they can only win one state title. I'd love to see an opposing coach or two get pinned along the way, as well. Next.
Hale Fuemmeler at 195 has a dilemma on his hands at 195 because he just barely lost the first place match at districts, just like he had two closes defeats at the quad meet. You can't get into position to compete with the best at such a high weight class without having both talent and strength, so it would appear Fuemmeler isn't lacking athletically, but he is a senior, so if he doesn't find a way to make something happen for himself this season, he won't get another chance at it.
Wyatt Turner has some big decisions ahead of him because he'll be wrestling in college nest season, but after competing for two years at 220 lbs. in high school, he'll either have to go down to 195 or up to heavyweight because those are the available weight classes. For now he just wants to be a winner and he's got the heart and the brain to make that happen. If he does like Maxwell and follows the plan the coaching staff creates for him, this years results could be the best he's ever had at this event.