Decisions, decisions, decisions.
The Page Sand Devils made, and had, a few good ones Wednesday on the way to finishing a three-team meet consisting of Division III teams at Coconino, 2-0. After trouncing the Holbrook Roadrunners, 70-0, to start the day, the Sand Devils received back-to-back key victories by decision at the 160 and 170 weight classes to snap a tie against the host and help put the match away.
Page senior Dorian Daw, who returned to the mats after an extended cross country season, went into his match at 160 pounds against Coconino's Marcello Barreras with the teams tied up at 30-all and came away with a crucial 5-4 decision. Thanks to an escape and a takedown in the third period, Daw gave his team a lead it would not relinquish.
At 170 pounds, Page sophomore Kimball Begay pulled off a third-period reverse with just three seconds remaining in the match against Brandon Barreras, recording the 6-5 decision to put his team up 36-30. From there, Myron Bryant continued to do what he has done for Page all year: dominate. Bryant's pin in one minute and three seconds over Coconino's Devin Gamboa sealed the deal, and his teammate, Taylor Nez, added a first-period pin as Page battled to the 48-30 victory.
"We are deep and young and have leadership," said Sand Devils head coach Kyran Keisling.
With the match against the Sand Devils starting at the 220-pound weight class, the Panthers fell behind 12-0 after suffering pins from Terran Blackgoat and heavyweight senior Levi Telshaw. Standout sophomore Pedro Billups put Coconino on the board with a pin at 106 pounds, needing just 1:09 to finish off Page's Ikaika Uejo, a freshman.
Kamron Whitewater, who also needed just one period against Holbrook, notched a pin in :38 for Page at 113 pounds, Zachery Ruiz (120 pounds) followed up with a second-period fall and Coconino's Carter Frontz snapped the Sand Devils run with a first-period pin.
“I just can’t wait to get my entire team on a mat, because we are better than that," Keisling said.
Kaleb June got a much-needed fall for Page in the second period of his 132-pound match, as the Sand Devils forfeited the next three weight classes to allow the score to even up at 30.
“Page is a well-coached team and you got to go out and beat them, you can’t just hold on to win. They are hard-nosed, tough, and we had our opportunities to win that dual," said Panthers assistant coach Mike Schmieder.
Daw ended his day with a fall and the decision, with Nez, June, Blackgoat, Whitewater and Telshaw all going 2-0 by fall.
"That kid has no off switch, I've never seen him get tired in my life," Keisling said of Daw.
A member of the Page cross country team that won its fourth straight title in November, Daw took bottom position to start the third period, needing points to close up a 3-2 deficit, and managed the escape for a point. His takedown for two points put him ahead, and he held off Marcello Barreras' escape attempt to make sure his arm was raised by the end of the nine minutes.
“When I saw it was 30-30, I knew we only had a couple matches left, so we all just went after it," Begay said.
Brandon Barreras, a senior, appeared to have control over Begay after one period, in which he allowed his opponent to stand up for an escape point. That point came back to bite Barreras, as the two went into the final period with Barreras ahead just 5-4.
"He started out strong. On his feet, he should have just dominated him, but for whatever reason, he just didn’t have any juice in that third period," Schmieder said of the older Barreras. "It just comes back to conditioning. It’s an amazing thing -- we’ll practice for two hours, and five minutes into a match a kid can be exhausted if they let their mind run away."
Billups put his Holbrook opponent's shoulders to the mat in just :27. Frontz also ended his day with two pins, with his fall against Holbrook clocked at just :24. Payton Polder (132) and Jarrett Walton (160) each finished their Holbrook contests in less than :40, and Marcello Barreras added a first-period pin.
“We’ve got to go back and figure out what we have got to do mentally; that’s our challenge right now. We are there technically, and we score enough points to win matches, but you can’t hang on, you got to go out and win," Schmieder said.