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Eagles starting to put pieces together

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By Joe Vaccarelli

Dakota Ridge’s wrestling team hit a nice stride in the final weekend of action before Winter Break, defeating Arvada in a dual and finishing 4-1 in the Mullen Dual Tournament.

At the Mullen tourney, six Eagle wrestlers finished with unblemished records, including 285-pounder, Jason Marts. Marts, who qualified for state at 189 pounds as a sophomore two years ago and sat out last season, is currently ranked third in his weight class by On The Mat rankings. Marts is 14-0 on the season.

In the Eagles’ dual against Arvada, the team spotted the Bulldogs (which has three wrestlers ranked in the top-four in Class 4A by On The Mat) 12 points due to forfeits but still managed to rally for a 42-33 victory.

Sam Talyai won by pin at 171 pounds, as did Levi Maes at 103 pounds. Nick Gordy (112), Michael Vigil (119), Miles Maldanado (125) and Travis Barth (130) each also came away with pinfall victories for Dakota Ridge to clinch the come-from-behind victory.

Dakota Ridge falls to Eaglecrest

Winning is difficult in wrestling without a full roster.

The Dakota Ridge Eagles found that out once again as they dropped their fourth straight match to Eaglecrest 48-27 on Dec. 16 in their home gym.

Forfeits in three weight classes gave Eaglecrest 18 free points and an injury early on in another match gave the Raptors an additional six points, paving the way to an easy win.

The good news for the Eagles is that if you take away those forfeited points and the injury, they outscored the Raptors 27-24, but this is something the Eagles have been seeing all season.

“What I would love to do is have a full team,” Dakota Ridge coach Larry May said. “That’s our ultimate goal.”

The match got off to a rough start for the Eagles when Lee Halpin defeated Miles Maldonado on points. After three forfeits in the next five matches, the Eagles saw themselves down 22-9, despite winning the only two matches that were contested in that span, a pin by Justin Hambleton and a win on points by Travis Barth.

Things looked like they might swing in Dakota Ridge’s favor when Ryan Clark was able to fight back from a first-round deficit to pin Gage Fell and bring the Eagles back to within seven, but two straight decision losses by Sam Talyai and Ben Bagby, and an injury to David Mejia early in the first round of his match led to 14 straight Raptor points that effectively ended the competitive part of the match.

Two bright spots late in the match were 285-pound Jason Marts and 103-pound Levi Maes, who were both able to pin their opponents in the second round of their matches.

Maes has been a consistent performer all season and raised his personal record on the season to 6-1, including two forfeits, but he still has every intention of continuing to work on his form.

“I’ll just keep working on moves and stuff,” Maes said. “Keep working hard.”

Despite the tough the loss and rough start to the season, the fiery May was still proud of his team after the match.

“I’m very, very proud about our performance with what happened tonight,” May said. “My team is very young. We were right in this match the entire time. I feel that our kids were in better shape than them and I think they had a little more talent than us at the time.”

May will have to hope his team improves with time and experience as they have lots of dual matches after the winter break and will look to improve upon their record.

“The way our schedule’s going right now, we just have nothing but duals so we just get more mat time and that’s what it’s all about,” May said.