Early-season dual meets can be difficult to gauge.
Lineups are still being formulated, some of the athletes are not in their eventual weight class, football playoffs keep some away from the wrestling room and conditioning can still be questionable.
That’s why the featured match between Desert Vista and Gilbert Highland was expected to be such a treat.
And Tuesday’s dual at the Storm Center just happened (wink, wink) to start at 135 pounds, meaning the final match of the night pitted former state champions Robbie Mathers of Desert Vista and Highland’s Chad Done at 130 against each other.
The match, won 47-27 by the Thunder, was well decided thanks to four Highland forfeits before they stepped on the mat but it didn’t take away from meeting.
Mathers, who won state last season, was exceptionally fast and the defensive Done wasn’t able to contain him. Mathers won it on a five-point off a scramble in the second period after a scoreless first and a high-crotch for another big-point exchange in a 12-3 win.
“It was just the first match,” said Mathers, who was pinned by Done’s younger brother, Curt, in the season opener last season but went 31-1 the rest of the season. “It was a great early test.”
Done, who is a three-time finalist, winning state in 2008, said once he was down 7-3 in the third, he had to open up and try to force the issue.
“He is a great wrestler and give him credit, but I had to get desperate and left myself open,” Done said.
Desert Vista coach David Gonzalez said Mathers asked him who the pressure was on leading up to the match.
“I told him, ‘The pressure is neither one of you because you are former state champs,’ ” Gonzalez said. “This is a new year. Now, it is who wants to stake their claim and make a statement this year.”
The team match was competitive as there was just one first period pin. Of the nine matches wrestled, Desert Vista won five. Counting the exhibition that was held and won by Highland it was a 5-5 split.
“There were two toss up matches and we won both of them,” Gonzalez said. “Their studs won, except for Done, and our studs one. It was a good first test.”
The Thunder’s two other returning state placers and team captains – Ace Martinez (160) and Alex Bambic (215) – won handily with a major decision (16-2) and pin (5:18), respectively.
Desert Vista unveiled a candidate for a fourth stud in Indiana transfer Kendall Love, who placed second in state last summer, fourth at Disney Duals over the summer and third in Las Vegas a couple weeks ago.
Against Highland’s Craig Lewis, the junior showed quickness, good takedowns and the ability to ride his opponent before pinning him in 4:27 at 140.
“We moved here to get an opportunity and be pushed by my coaches,” Love said. “I think I found the right place.”
Highland, which wrestled without state sixth-place finishers Curt Done (119) and Trevin Waite (130), is still finding itself, but stayed in most of the matches.
“We’ll be OK when we get everyone in there,” Highland coach Abel Figueroa said. “We did some good things (three pins and a decision). In the matches we wrestled we were competitive for the most part.”
But the night belonged to Mathers.
“I had my setups and quickness working,” he said. “I feel comfortable scrambling. (The first takedown) settled me down and I wrestled my match.”
Desert Vista 47, Gilbert Highland 27
103- Matt Mathers (DV) by forfeit.
112 – Jake Whiting (High) pin Jesse Ortega, :50.
Note: Arm bar with half on the opposite side ended this one quickly.
119 – Tyler Struck (DV) by forfeit.
125 – Nick Rodriguez (DV) by forfeit.
130 – Robbie Mathers (DV) maj. dec. Chad Done, 12-3.
Note: Mathers won a scramble in the second period and put it away with a slick Hi-C and powerful half in the third.
135 - Cooper Gardner (DV) dec. Van Ngyuen, 8-5.
Note: Ngyuen led 5-3 after two before Gardner escaped early in the third and then used a head-and-arm for the winning takedown before getting a cradle to secure the win.
140 – Kendall Love (DV) pin Craig Lewis, 4:27.
Note: It was just 2-0 Love after two periods before he escaped, got a takedown and pinned Lewis with a stack.
145 –Daniel Chaides (High) Dylan Kearney, 5:58.
Note: Kearney led 2-0 after one period, but after difering Chaides got a second period takedown and back points to gain control and led 7-2 before the pin.
152 – Jake Markham (High) by forfeit.
Note: Markham wrestled Danny Mitchell, who didn't make weight, in an exhibition and pinned him.
160 – Ace Martinez (DV) maj. dec. David Norlock, 16-2.
Note: Martinez, who got three takedowns and eight points on near fall, was unable to score over the last 1:30 to get the technical fall.
171 – Christian Allen (High) dec. Sam Schoepf, 10-4.
Note: Allen had a five-point move in the first period to take control.
189 – Colton Oliver (High) pin Jimi Dixie, 4:30.
Note: Oliver got a takedown and reversal to lead 4-0 after two periods before decking Dixie.
215 – Alex Bambic (DV) pin Jason Cook, 5:18.
Note: Bambic had a great throw in the second period, but Cook, who got the initial takedown, ended up woozie so ref stopped it or it would have ended there.
HVY –Sergio Valdez (DV) by forfeit.
Note: Match started at 135.
Records: Desert Vista 1-0, Highland 0-1.
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