The Davis High wrestling squad’s anxious anticipation was palpable before they received a test as strenuous as anything found in a classroom — Wednesday night’s home matchup with Monterey Trail.
The Blue Devils couldn’t quite ace their test, losing 54-21 to the Mustangs to fall to 1-2 in Delta Valley Conference competition.
But the most heavily-weighted question was how DHS — with its roster full mostly with freshmen and sophomores — would bounce back after last week’s 72-0 shutout at the hands of reigning DVC champion Elk Grove.
The answer? Gradual improvement.
“We understood, coming into this, that the odds were stacked against us,” said Devil head coach Ty Brown. “We have some young guys who will make mistakes, but we’re intent on continuing to battle hard.”
No disparity was immediately apparent as local 106-pounder Elias LoBuono-Gonzalez took to the mat. Despite an earnest effort to pin opponent Brittany Morgan going unfulfilled, LoBuono-Gonzalez still finished with a 19-1 major decision.
Elias’ brother, Adrian LoBuono-Gonzalez, continued the domination in the 126-pound match. He immediately brought Mustang Roberto Noguera down and registered the quickest pin of the night, ending the match after just 45 seconds.
But just as quickly as its morale rose, DHS’ hopes for victory slipped away. Alex Dubay’s 14-1 major decision defeat, a second-round pin of Marquis Turner and a three forfeits put the Blue Devils in a 28-11 deficit.
Connor Spann, who is quickly becoming one of the most reliable assets for the local matmen, picked Davis up with a much-needed 9-1 major decision. Next, at 160 pounds, Devil Jacob Fields struggled to break down his opponent and record a fall, but still managed a 7-4 win.
Monterey Trail, however, pulled away in the higher weight classes as DHS wrestlers Jake Hammond and Poncho Cisneros both suffered pins.
Blue Devil sophomore Marvin Grant appeared to be the last hope for local comeback — and he wrestled like it. The 195-pound matchup primarily featured Mustang Austin Nguyen and Grant on their feet in a back-and-forth tug of war for control.
The tense bout ended up stretching into four overtime periods, and eventually concluded with an exhausted Grant scoring points on a takedown and a earning narrow victory over his opponent.
“If I would’ve just snapped him down more — and followed through with my ankle pick — I could’ve made more progress,” Grant said. “By sweating about it being overtime and the points, I made it harder on myself.”
Unfortunately, a Devil forfeit due to a recent injury and Davis’ Deven Sanchez falling to Monterey Trail’s Nicholas Her in the last engagement of the night, cemented the 54-21 loss.
According to their coach, will of the Blue Devils won’t be affected by the result.
“I don’t think anyone is hanging their head,” he said. “I think they believe we’re ascending, and I know we’re getting there. You always want to win a dual meet, obviously, but it’s tough to do when you forfeit this many weight classes.
“Our main thing is just continuing to get better at the things that we do. Our brand: explosive standups, attacking from the bottom, high crotch (takedowns), doubles, and just using effort to intimidate opponents.”
The DHS matmen have a week to further hone their technique before traveling to Franklin on Wednesday for their next DVC meet.
“They’ve got some tough kids in their lineup, but we’ve got some tough kids in our lineup too,” Brown said. “We can’t wait to get there next week and see if we can lock horns with the Wildcats.”
— Reach Brett Johnson at firstname.lastname@example.org or 530-747-8052. Follow him on Twitter at @ReporterBrett