By Brian Eller - email@example.com
Colin Barnes hates to lose.
Ok, so what athlete doesn't?
But the trick here is, after Barnes suffered his first defeat this season on Jan. 23, the Strasburg senior took that loss and used it to bring him back down to reality. After all, when you're 30-0 on the year, it's hard not to get a little complacent. Even Barnes himself admits his ego was starting to inflate at a dangerous rate.
"I hate losing, but I thought about it and at the end of the day that loss helped me," Barnes said. "I was undefeated. I knew I was starting to get a little cocky. You know how you can get if you've got a big goose egg in your loss record, you get a little cocky. You know I learned a lot from that match. I needed that match. I needed somebody to step up and say, 'Hey, you're not just going to push me over and push me around the mat like you have everybody else. You're actually going to have to wrestle to beat me,' and I needed somebody like that. I needed somebody to push me."
Later that day things got worse for Barnes. During his match against Clarke County's Teddy Long, Barnes suffered a broken nose when Long tried to take a shot at the same time Barnes went to sprawl. The result was Long's forehead ramming square into Barnes' face.
The injury kept Barnes out of Strasburg's county meet against Stonewall, Central and Massanutten Military Academy earlier, but the 171-pound senior will return to the mat when the Rams compete in the Northern Sectional at Stonewall Jackson High School. Barnes will wear a face mask to protect his nose. The sectional was scheduled for today, but has been postponed due to the weather, and no make-up date has been set.
It's been a season full of expectation for the Strasburg senior. After capturing the district championship last year at 160 pounds, Barnes has spent his final year wrestling at 171 with hopes of capturing a state title. It's a change Barnes said now has him in a more comfortable class, one without the worry of failing to weigh in at the necessary weight.
"Now that I'm up a new weight class I feel like I can wrestle 100 percent," he said. "At  cutting that weight I kind of felt like I was wrestling at 80 percent, 85 percent. Now that I'm at  I feel 110 percent. I'm ready to wrestle now that I go there on the mat. I'm not worried about my weight when I weigh in. I'm here to wrestle."
The fact that Barnes felt only 80 percent last season is a scary thought, especially to his opponents. But while the broken nose still stings, it's the loss to Manassas Park's Issac Velasquez that causes more pain for Barnes. It was a close match between the two, with both wrestlers struggling just to put points on the scoreboard. In the third period, however, Velasquez was able to gain leverage on Barnes, and used the final minute to pick up a 3-1 win.
"Honestly it's kind of hard to wrestle somebody that stalls the whole match," Barnes said. "For the last 40 seconds of the match the kid had my arm pinned in between his arm and his ribcage and I couldn't get it out. But there's no excuse for me losing. I've got to push myself harder and let those things not become big things."
Despite the loss, Barnes was able to pick up another win before breaking his nose against Long. And if the last match between Barnes and Velasquez didn't have enough drama, the two could meet again in the sectional finals, a meeting Barnes said he's had circled on his calendar ever since his defeat. The two weren't familiar with each other before the match, and Barnes joked he wouldn't be sending his opponent a Facebook invitation any time soon.
"I'm gonna turn that [match] around," he said, turning serious. "That's a guarantee."