Tuesday night's matchup at McQueen was just the first HDL dual of the year for Spanish Springs, but most around the HDL wrestling ranks went into the year thinking the Cougars and Lancers were the top two teams in the conference. If that's indeed the case, Spanish Springs took a big early season step in the right direction, handing McQueen a 40-26 defeat on its home mats Tuesday.
"Right now we have a lot of new guys in the lineup that were not there last year," Cougars coach Joe Imelli said. " They need to be put in some difficult spots now, so when the end of the year rolls around, they are not wide-eyed to the situation. Last night was one of those tough spots. McQueen has a very good team and came after us. We had some guys really respond and as a team finished the job."
McQueen had the early edge thanks to getting a trio of wins by pin, in the 132, 145 and 160-pound weight classes. The meet started with the 126-pound weight class. After McQueen's win at 170s, the Lancers had a 22-13 lead in the team score.
That's when the Cougars began to rally. Spanish Springs ripped off wins in six of the final seven matches to capture the 14-point team triumph.
After McQueen's win at 170, Spanish Springs got back-to-back pins from Jake Sylvester and Brik Chesley at 182 and 195 to take a 25-22 edge.
McQueen won the 220-pound match to take its last lead, 26-25, but that's as good as it got for the Lancers.
Spanish springs regained the lead, 28-26, when heavyweight Conner Hendricks won 7-6. The meet finished with Spanish Springs getting wins by Nick Poalillo at 106 pounds (11-8), Wade Wren winning by forfeit at 113s and Dustin Congdon winning by decision at 120s.
The visiting Cougars also picked up wins in two of the meet's first three matches. Tyler Poalillo won a 12-1 decision at 126 and Cole Drescher won a 5-0 decision at 138.
"Freshmen Cole Drescher had a big win for the team as he beat a transfer from Arizona, who placed third in state last year," Imelli said. "Then we went back and forth a bit. We really got our run going when we got to 182 and sealed the victory after freshmen Nick Poalillo won his match at 106. We won nine of the 14 matches but the fact that they got three pins early really kept them in the dual. We will correct that and will be a tougher team going forward after having dualed McQueen."
Spanish Springs will compete in a tournament hosted by Lowry High in Winnemucca Saturday.
•At Hug, Reed breezed to victory in its HDL dual opener. The visiting Raiders drubbed the host hawks, 69-3, on the strength of winning 12 of the 13 matches.
Neither team got any points in the 220-pound weight class as both teams forfeited.
Reed ran out to a 69-0 lead before Hug won the last match of the night. Reed's Madison George dropped that 106-pound match by a tough 7-6 decision.
Despite the defeat, first-year Reed coach Mike Klapp said the match was still the most impressive by a Reed wrestler in the dual.
"Of all the matches, the most impressive was the one we lost," Klapp said. "Madison is a first-year wrestler. He is improving a ton and just at the last second he went down. There have been some things he's struggled with and tonight he did better. You can ask any of our kids and they'd all tell you, his match was the most impressive."
Of Reed's 12 wins, 11 came by pin or forfeit. Raiders 120-pounder Israel Casarez won the only match that went the distance as he posted an 8-5 victory.
Lavell McDaniel (113), Cameron Jones (126), Chase Heit (138), Jake Otuafi (145), Erik Stockwell (182), Roberto Landa (195) and Luke Claypool (HWT) all earned wins by pin for Reed.
The RHS crew also picked up four wins via forfeit. Those came to Mason Irwin (132), Brady Wood (152), Alex Landa (160) and Tim Eubanks (170).
"It's a good start," Klapp said. "The guys were supportive of each other, which I was excited about. They pushed through it and were also respectful of their opponent."
Reed will compete in dual tournaments at Ponderosa and Natomas high schools, both of suburban Sacramento, Friday and Saturday respectively. The Raiders do not have another league dual until Jan. 8 when they host McQueen.