Nevada Daily Mail
"We spotted them 24, lose by 18." There really wasn't much more Tigers head wrestling coach Devin White could say to sum up the heartbreak that ultimately was Thursday night's home opener against the Wildcats of Harrisonville.
"We get people healthy, we get people back in the right positions, in the right weights where we're supposed to be, you know, and we're not spotting them 24, its a different dual," White said.
Despite winning nearly every match, there wasn't a shortage of things that White can look back on and find a desire to improve. In nearly every bout throughout the night, the Tigers simply looked out of shape and struggled to move from the bottom position.
"My main concern is our cardio," White said. "We're not quite where we need to be, but that comes with time."
Despite the significant impact the Tigers felt from a lack of cardiovascular efficiency, however, White isn't too worried about that issue looking forward. "That's very easy to fix," he said. "One of my favorite things to do."
As well as the physical problems, White saw a number of mental blunders he and his staff will look to work on that he simply attributed to "freshman mistakes." The most costly of those mistakes was made by Scott Swink, who was called for clasping on four different occasions, ultimately resulting in a disqualification during overtime in the 182-pound bout against Austin Moreland.
"If we're not clasping four times from the bottom position, that match wouldn't even go to overtime," White said.
On the other hand, White saw a number of things that were cause for celebration. As he has done all year, senior Slade Stiles came into his 120-pound bout against David Barnett and made it look easy.
Through the majority of the first period, Stiles appeared to simply be throwing Barnett around the ring for no other reason than to toy with him before securing the pin in 1 minute, 32 seconds. "Slade Stiles looked good, as always," White said. "He's having a good year."
A good year, indeed.
Up to this point in the season, Stiles has dominated just about every opponent he has faced. In the Steve Leslie Invitational tournament that kicked off the season, he gave up one reversal and those are still the only two points Stiles has surrendered, aside from escape points when he let opponents get up off the mat.
Dayton Miller has been the other significant bright spot for the Tigers throughout the still-young season. Thursday was no exception as he needed just 25 seconds to pin Harrisonville's Josh Barnett in the 106-pound bout.
"He's a tough wrestler, very good technique, but he's still inexperienced," White said. "He's a freshman, he's going to make freshman mistakes."
Daxtyn Osburn gave the Tigers their only other pin of the night at 138 pounds when he defeated Michael Fonville. Osburn was ahead throughout the entire match and ultimately finished by simply outmuscling Fonville to secure the pin while holding an 8-3 lead.
True Beisly picked up another hard-fought victory for the Tigers at 145 pounds, when he defeated Kyle Hix by a final score of 8-3 and Dalton Shunkwiler was forced to come from behind in the final 30 seconds of his 152-pound bout against Anthony Franco to earn a 7-6 decision.
Colby Smith provided the final bright spot of the night for the Tigers when he squared off against James Pesek at 220 pounds. Smith was clearly the better wrestler right from the beginning of the match and ultimately worked his way to a 6-2 win.
Despite the issues and the fact that the Tigers have now competed in two duals and lost both, White isn't worried. Since it's just the beginning of the season, he openly acknowledged after Thursday's dual that there is plenty of time to work out the kinks.
"Ultimately, we're looking to peak in February," White said. "You know, this, to me, is practice. It only makes us better for February."
The Tigers won't have to wait long to get in some more of that "practice" time, as they are scheduled to get right back into action on Saturday, when they head back out on the road for the Carl Junction tournament. Following that tournament, the Tigers will come back to Wynn Gymnasium next Tuesday, hosting the Blackhawks of Adrian High School.
"We're going to have to wrestle our best to give ourselves a chance," White said.