Coconino on Wednesday got a big lift from its higher weights to finish a multi-meet consisting of all Division III, Section Four teams with a 2-1 record.
Host Flagstaff went 0-3 but got the mat time it needed and saw improvements, with Easten Skinner recording two first-period pins and a victory on a forfeit to lead the way.
After falling to Snowflake, 53-19, Coconino bounced back with a 48-33 win over Chino Valley thanks to four key pins late in the match.
Devin Gamboa put the Panthers ahead 30-27 with a third-period pin at 170 pounds, and teammate Brandon Barreras also got in a pin before time expired at 182 pounds. The Cougars closed the gap with their own pin, making it 36-33, but Marc Aruguete (220 pounds) and Tiberone Clarke (285) sealed the deal for the Panthers by tallying their own falls.
“It was big," Panthers coach Mike Schmieder said. "We are a solid team. Some of the guys we thought would come through didn’t, so we had to lean on the big guys and some of that youth, and they came through. That was a good team effort.”
Aruguete, who also notched a major decision win against Snowflake to finish up his day 2-1, looked as if his match against Chino was headed for a loss. Despite his opponent controlling most of the match, Aruguete took advantage of a mistake, took his foe to his back and finished the job.
Panthers sophomore Pedro Billups ended his day with a pin against the Cougars to go with two major decisions. Emiliano Romero also provided a third-period fall for Coconino against Chino.
Billups and his head coach agreed that improvement can be made as the team moves forward.
“Right now most of us need to sharpen our technique because we are wrestling like young guys,” Billups said.
The Flagstaff Eagles, under the direction of a new head coach in Scott Neuburger, also used the day to work toward the future. Skinner and Neuburger both saw improvements.
“We have a very new team and they are all learning really well. That’s the biggest thing,” Neuburger said.
Flagstaff fell to Snowflake 60-24 and just missed taking down Chino, 48-30. Freshman Zachary Collins got his team within striking distance against Chino, down 19-18, with a pin at 145 pounds, but from there the Eagles suffered three straight falls.
“It was a very close match, and we just had a few little mistakes that got us on our backs, unfortunately,” Neuburger said.
Flagstaff and Coconino met for their final matches of the night, with the Panthers coming away with the 55-21 victory. Coconino started strong, pulling away to a 16-0 lead courtesy of major decision wins from Billups and Haiden Kendall in addition to a Flagstaff forfeit at 113 pounds.
Jakob Woods got the Eagles on board with a quick pin at 126 pounds and Skinner followed suit to cut Coconino’s lead to 16-12. The Panthers, however, responded by getting three straight Eagles to their shoulders as Payton Polder, Anthony Burgos and Marcello Barreras all tallied six points apiece by falls to push the lead to 34-12. Flagstaff’s Sam Black, who ended his day with two first-period pins, stopped the bleeding with a fall, but Coconino held off their crosstown rivals as Brandon Barreras contributed a pin, Gamboa won by decision and Marcellus Phillips added a pin.
Despite the loss to Snowflake, Flagstaff, which has just one senior listed on its roster, got three straight pins in the match. Junior Spencer Johnson sneaked in a pin in the third period, and Woods and Skinner took care of their opponents in the first.
“We are doing a lot better compared to the last couple of weeks. We’ve been doing a lot of wrestle-offs and pushing each other hard in practice, and the kids you didn’t expect to do better are getting more pins and we are getting more points than in the beginning of the year,” Skinner said.
Snowflake went 3-0 on the day, and Chino walked away with a 1-2 record.