Fate snuck up on Conifer freshman Sam Delmonico like a polar bear in a blizzard.
As the annual Power Cup wrestling dual against rival Evergreen began Feb. 4 at the 135-pound weight class, Delmonico knew he would be wrestling last. But the 130-pounder never thought and never allowed himself to entertain the notion that the decisive match would come down to the wire.
Delmonico pinned Evergreen’s Brandon Maxey in 1 minute, 38 seconds to break a deadlocked team race and give the Lobos a 40-34 victory, winning back the traveling Power Cup for the first time since 2008.
“It’s a little bit of both,” Delmonico said of whether it was good or bad knowing everything was on his shoulders. “It’s bad because you know if you don’t win, your team is going to be disappointed. (But) it helps you want to win more.”
The Lobos earned six pins and Don Fuller’s 10-2 major decision over Josh Karnath in the 285-pound weight class to best the Cougars, who scored two pins, a major decision and won two weights via forfeit.
But all the drama turned out to be the stones paving the way to Delmonico’s and Maxey’s match, which had the Cougars’ gymnasium in full roar from the get-go.
The drama and energy made for great action, before Delmonico scored 21 seconds into the match on a takedown. Now 6-11 on the season, Delmonico finally got Maxey turned over and stuck him for a pin and all the drama.
It was a welcome return to action for the rival programs, who wrestled a disappointing dual last year due to forfeits and strategy.
“This was good,” Conifer senior Jacob Ruddy said. “This was the best dual I’ve ever been to. I mean, tied up to the last match? I’ve never seen that.”
Against Travis Rice, Ruddy gave up the first takedown, but rallied to go up 5-4 entering the second period.
Rice tied the score, but Ruddy got a takedown and near-fall points to go up 10-5, before he rolled Rice on his shoulders and stacked him for a pin at the 3:19 mark.
“I couldn’t believe I got him in that,” Ruddy said. “That’s a move that you practice but you think you’ll never get. You get it and it’s like ee perfect.”
Travis Himmelman, Dillon Tussey, Colby Kluesner and Hunter Shively each scored victories via pin for the Lobos.
The Cougars scored pin-fall victories from Connor O’Neal and Cole Berendzen, a major decision from Dan Downs, and forfeit wins from Jace Jackson, Ryan Sherman and Jacob Kay.
O’Neal started the dual by pinning Andrew Wolf at the 1:36 mark, which was slightly longer than the 67 seconds Berendzen needed to pin Brandon Leek in their 189-pound final.
Cougars coach Lane Williams liked the way his kids battled, but also saw too much hesitation for his liking.
“Kids afraid to do things,” he said. “Being able to open themselves up to trying things, I wasn’t seeing that from some of the kids. Quitting in key positions that you just can’t do in wrestling. It’s easy to say, ‘Oh, that’s a tough spot.’ But if you want to win, that’s what is expected of you.”