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Huskies take down Pirates in Mid-Valley's battle of the best
The coaches screamed and jumped, as did Hunter Minton's teammates after he rolled his body at the last possible second.
It was the spark to the Huskies' senior night victory, and it came courtesy of a freshman.
Minton turned a reversal right before the third-round buzzer to earn a 7-5 victory in his 125-pound match, and Sutter survived a few close scares before starting to roll in a 41-21 dual meet win over Wheatland on Wednesday.
"As a freshman to pull off a victory that's huge," Huskies coach Ryan Reynolds said. "Look what it did to our team, it lit a fire."
Wheatland, an ever-improving program that sported a 15-1 dual meet record heading into the Huskies' gym, features its most experienced wrestlers on the lighter side of the scoresheet.
That includes Angelo Santos, the senior opponent to Minton. But he wasn't alone in the close defeat department. The next two matches after Minton also came up Huskies, with a combined margin of victory of three points.
Zach Bell-Matthews (130) prevailed with a 5-4 decision and Allen Farmer (135) won 4-2. The results had Wheatland coach Cy Olsen sitting with his hands on his chin, looking aimlessly.
"All of those matches could have gone either way and they went Sutter's way with a big swing of momentum," Olsen said. "We have to win close matches against strong opponents or we don't win duals."
After the three down-to-the-buzzer matches, Sutter built an insurmountable lead on the skills of its middleweights. Ibrahim Mohsen (140) powered his way to a pin with 1 minute, 12 seconds left in the second round and Chris Steele (145) cruised to a 12-1 major decision.
Justin Gildemeister (152) dominated his way to a pin early in the second round before adhering to one of the Huskies' traditions. When a senior wrestles his final match at Sutter, they take off their shoes at the center of the mat and leave them there for Reynolds to retrieve.
But even with all the senior-night sentiments, the Huskies' coach can't help but beam when discussing his team's youth. The top-5 Sutter weight classes are all represented by freshmen, as is the 189-pound slot.
"It makes me smile when I think of the future," he said.
At the lighter end, the strategy was to keep it close, Reynolds said. But with Garrett Fulton's major decision (10-1) at 112s, a forfeit win for Bryce Melani at heavyweight and the three close victories, Sutter was in control of the scoreboard. Alex Ryan (215) closed out the match with his quick pin.
Not giving up, Wheatland's Tyler Larcom (160) and Javier Lopez Jr. (189) took decisions and Orrin Gauper (171) notched one of two Pirates' pins on the night. The other came from Austin Shinn at 103s.
It just wasn't enough — not after that slide kick-started by a ninth grader.
"It was tough to take those losses down low," Olsen said. "But hey, Sutter came more prepared — hats off to them."