The Spanish Springs wrestling team got its High Desert League dual meet season started off on the right foot by downing North Valleys 46-30 Wednesday night.
The HDL dual meet was the first of the winter campaign for both schools. Spanish Springs is the three-time defending conference dual champion and back-to-back Northern 4A champion.
“It’s nice to get a win,” Spanish Springs coach Joe Imelli said. “When your expectations are league first, then regionals and hopefully make a push for state, then you have to get that first one out of the way. We’re definitely a little bit younger than we were last year. We had some kids do some good things tonight, but our lack of experience showed too.”
The league rivals started the meet with the 152-pound match. Spanish Springs’ Sean Hubbard captured an 8-4 decision in the match and his SSHS teammate, senior Garek Tauchen, followed with a first-round pin.
That left the Cougars with an early 9-0 lead. North Valleys responded with back-to-back pins in the 171 and 189-pound weight classes. The pins left the Panthers with a 12-9 advantage. It was the visitors’ lone lead of the night.
Spanish Springs proceeded to win the next five matches and never trailed again. The string of wins started when SSHS 215 pounder JJ Phoenix collected a first-round pin. Cougars heavyweight Chase Hauder picked up a 7-6 decision next.
Ryan Long snared a first-round pin for Spanish Springs at 103. Austin Lee and Curtis Lampert followed and both captured second-round pins. The five straight match wins forged the Cougars into a 36-12 lead.
North Valleys did win three of the final five matches on the night, but they proved too little too late. The two other Spanish Springs wins came from Austin Yohey (a 10-0 decision) at 130 pounds and Zach Perez (a second-round pin) at 140 pounds.
Spanish Springs will compete in the annual Reno Tournament of Champions this weekend. It’s next HDL dual is scheduled for Jan. 5 at Hug.
“I’m happy for the team getting a win, but we have to understand nobody is feeling sorry for us graduating a bunch of seniors,” Imelli said. “We’ll carry a mark on our back until somebody knocks us off. If we stay content, people will catch us and pass us up. If we want to be an elite program, now is the time for the younger kids to step up.”