It's an annual ritual that dates back decades. Each year, Hotchkiss and Paonia step onto the wrestling mat to see which team can out-dual the other.
Last Thursday's dual win went to Paonia, which won at seven weight divisions and won one match by forfeit. To the delight of spectators, who nearly filled the Hotchkiss bleachers, the outcome came down to the final matches.
The dual opened at 160 pounds, with Jesse Burns pinning sophomore Ethan Guy in 1 minute, 25 seconds. Paonia took a 12-0 lead on a forfeit, giving the win to freshman Anthony Miller at 170 pounds.
At 182, junior Anthony Felice won by decision over Hotchkiss senior Colton Peebles. Peebles tied the match at 6-6 on a second-period takedown, but lost, 8-6, on a reversal in the third period.
In a match between two top-four ranked wrestlers, at 195 pounds, Devin Curtis put Hotchkiss on the board with a 5-2 win over Jaden Miller, who was wrestling up a weight class. After a scoreless first period, Miller scored two points on a reversal. Late in the round, Curtis completed a takedown-near fall combo for the lead. Neither wrestler was able to get control or score in the third period.
Senior Cyrus Malek-Madani also wrestled up a weight, narrowly defeating freshman Kevin Chavez of Hotchkiss to win the 220-pound match. Malek-Madani took a 5-4 lead in the third round on a reversal for the win.
At 285, Paonia sophomore Levi Peterson pinned freshman Christian Matus in the first round, giving Paonia a 24-3 lead.
Hotchkiss won the next five matches, beginning at 106 pounds, with Paonia freshman Reagan Todd going the full three rounds in a 13-2 major decision loss to Number one ranked junior Landen Mayberry.
At 113 pounds, freshman Robert Cochran won by forfeit. At 120 pounds, Paonia junior Soul Connolly went two rounds before getting pinned by defending state runner-up Sergio Campos. At 126, Presley Pene pulled Hotchkiss to within two points in an 8-4 decision over Paonia sophomore Zeb Etter.
Hotchkiss ranked freshman Traycer Hall scored seven points (a takedown and five back points) in the first period before pinning Paonia junior Ethan White early in the second period. To the delight of the Hotchkiss crowd, the win gave the Bulldogs a 28-24 lead.
The celebration was short-lived. At 138, top-ranked junior Sackett Chesnik scored a first-round takedown against Kylar Massano. In the second period Chesnik scored six near-fall points before pinning Massano in 3:57, giving Paonia a 30-28 lead.
Paonia senior Clay Campbell wasted little time in taking down and pinning JP Scriver in the 145-pound match. The pin came at 1:30 and the six points secured the win for Paonia.
In the final match, sophomores Grey Neal and Jace Peebles wrestled their first match of the season. Peebles led, 7-2, going into the third period. An escape and a reversal by Neal narrowed Peebles' lead to two points, and in the final seconds, Neal squeezed out three back points for the win.
Last season, Hotchkiss won the dual by a score of 38-30. Paonia first year head coach Nate Wiggins was happy to get the win. "They always show up," said Wiggins.