By Brian Eller - email@example.com
FRONT ROYAL - Mike Carlson knows he has three periods in each match to try to beat his opponent on the mat. If things aren't going his way at the start, he'll study his opponent's moves and tendencies, all while trying to make sure he isn't pinned himself.
Then, Carlson will adjust, giving him the advantage head-to-head. On Wednesday, Carlson's approach earned him two wins at the Skyline meet, as the heavyweight for Millbrook picked up one pin and a 9-4 win to help guide the Pioneers to a 1-1 record in the four-team wrestling tournament.
Millbrook defeated Northwestern District rival Skyline, 40-29, but fell to Allen (Texas) High School in the second round, 63-12. Skyline and James Wood also participated in the meet. The Hawks also finished 1-1 with the loss to Millbrook and a 40-32 win over James Wood, while the Colonels went 0-2 for the day.
"I thought I wrestled pretty good," Carlson said. "The first match I felt like I came out a little flat, but I picked it up a little bit as it went on. I just saw what he was doing and tried to counter it. He's a strong guy and I just needed to adjust to him and I thought I did a good job of doing that."
Carlson's first match proved to be the momentum changer for the Pioneers against Skyline in the first round. Already trailing, 12-9, Skyline's Zach Wooddell picked up the pin on Millbrook's Justin West less than 60 seconds into the 215-pound match, giving Skyline a 18-9 cushion.
Facing Skyline's Alan Kroh, Carlson battled his way for a 9-4 win, helping Millbrook pick up three points. More importantly, his win propelled the Pioneers on a 21-0 run that included back-to-back pins by Pioneers Joe Rioux and Tanner Sine.
"Overall I'd say we wrestled all right," Millbrook coach John Borst said. "We had one boy so sick there in the Skyline match so we had to bump things around a little bit. We had two forfeits instead of one, but I thought against Skyline they wrestled all right. That Texas team, though, they were pretty tough."
Tough, indeed. Coming in from Allen, Texas, the team dominated both of its matches, winning by a combined score of 116-18 and amassing 15 pins against Millbrook and James Wood. Despite the impressive performances from the visitors, however, both Carlson and 103-pound Rioux gave Millbrook its only points against Allen, both picking up pins on their respective opponents. Carlson's came with 1:35 left in the third period, while Rioux was able to pin his opponent with just six seconds left in his match. Rioux had been trailing the entire match, but used a last-minute boost of energy to roll over onto his opponent for the win.
"He did really well," Borst said of Rioux. "That last one he was losing to the Texas kid and he pulled it out in that last six seconds there, so that was good for him and for us."
While Rioux and Carlson had success for Millbrook, Skyline's Matt Huffstickler was one of two Hawks to earn pins in both matches, defeating Millbrook's David Long and James Wood's Nathan Dotson.
"[We wrestled] OK," Skyline coach Ryan Keel said. "We lost matches we could've won. Millbrook's missing some people and we lost to them. We could've wrestled better there. You've gotta score points. It's hard to win a wrestling match when you don't score the easy points."