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Tiger grapplers edge Buffalo on Senior Night, 44-42

Friday, February 1, 2013

Nevada senior Dalton Shunkwiler works to pin Buffalo's Ryan Jackson on Senior Night at Nevada High School Thursday.
By Eric Wade

Nevada Daily Mail

"I'll take it. At this point, I don't care if it's one point. I don't care if it's a half a point. I'll take it."

Nevada heavyweight Sam Ellifrits has Buffalo's Eli Cooper wrapped up, only seconds from winning the bout with a pin.
Despite being down a number of competitors, Nevada Tigers head wrestling coach Devin White knew it wouldn't be out of the question for his squad to come out of Senior Night with a win and that's exactly what the Tigers did, defeating Buffalo by a final score of 44-42 Thursday night.

"I even emailed my assistant this morning and said, 'Hey, we've got a shot at winning this dual if this, this, this, this and this happens.' It played out perfectly," White said.

The final decision is just a little bit deceiving as the Tigers gave up just six points with a pin loss by Trey Pritchett at 195 pounds in the bouts that were contested. In the other five bouts, the Tigers dominated Buffalo, winning three by pin and one by technical fall.

"In my eyes, we wrestled very well tonight," White said. "The kids went out and they knew what they had to do to win and they took care of business."

The Tigers had a big hill to climb right from the start after giving up 24 points due to open weights before the dual even started. It could have been worse, however, as the Tigers got 12 free points of their own and both squads were open at two more weights.

The Tigers came out at the conclusion of the Senior Night festivities in which six wrestlers and two chanters were honored for their contributions to the program. One of those seniors, Slade Stiles, was out of the Tigers' lineup Thursday night due to injury, but is expected to be back for the district tournament, hoping to defend and improve his No. 3 ranking at 120 pounds, as well as add to his school-record 168 career wins before his high school career comes to an end.

Of the other seniors who did take to the mat Thursday night, the most impressive and entertaining performances for fans and coaches alike came in the exhibition bout that ended the night between 285-pounders Tucker Wingert and Roger Owings. Neither wrestler was able to get the upper hand through the majority of the bout and it eventually went to overtime before Wingert secured a 4-2 decision.

"I can't say that about too many heavyweight matches, but it was a lot of fun to watch," White said.

Owings hasn't seen much action this season, but has put in what White called an "inspiring" amount of work that has resulted in a loss of 70 pounds from the 360 he weighed last fall to the 290 he weighs in at now. Wingert hasn't seen as much action as many other wrestlers on the Tigers' roster this year, either, but that didn't stop either of them from giving fans their money's worth.

"That right there is a great example of what wrestling is all about," White said of the exhibition bout. "Two kids having fun. It showed they really enjoy the sport and what it's all about."

But that was just one of the highlights of the night. Also on that list was a hotly contested 152-pound bout between Johnathon Ireland and Levi Boyd.

Boyd was wrestling out of his regular weight class, but is still one of the best in the state, as evidenced by his No. 10 ranking at 145. Ireland -- who is ranked 14th himself at 152 -- wasn't at all deterred by that fact, however, as he worked his way to a 12-7 decision victory.

"Tough kid. Tough kid. John wrestled well," White said. "You take away that one little mishap he had at the very beginning after he got his hips in a bad position and he dominates that kid."

As he has done all season long, Dayton Miller put on another strong performance as well. Despite moving up to 113 pounds from his regular weight of 106, where he is ranked fourth in the state, Miller dominated Buffalo's Justin Ruble in a 22-5 technical fall.

And that was when the pins began. In all of the remaining bouts, the Tigers won by pin, including a dominant performance by Sam Ellifrits in which he needed just 20 seconds to pin the much smaller Eli Cooper.

Scott Swink added another pin to his record as well, but it wasn't all smooth sailing in the 170-pound bout. Before securing the pin at the 1:14 mark of the second period, Swink found himself in serious danger after being called for two illegal holds.

Dalton Shunkwiler rounded out the wins for the Tigers as he pinned Buffalo's Ryan Jackson in 2:21.

With Thursday's win, the Tigers will take the next week off before heading to Clinton High School for the Class 2, District 3 tournament on Feb. 10 and 11.

"It's a great confidence booster going right into districts," White said of Thursday's dual, adding that the district tournament, "should be a great tournament for us."

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