ERIE -- As his team participated in the Top of the Rockies Invitational last week, Mead's Gabe Alvarado couldn't be spotted on a single mat.
The Mavericks senior had endured a fractured left orbital bone the week before in a tournament at Pueblo Central and was unable to compete. On Thursday night, Alvarado returned in the Mavericks' 46-27 dual win at Erie.
If anything was bothering him, it was exceedingly difficult to notice.
"I was a little nervous, because I knew I was unconditioned and thought I might be a little rusty," Alvarado said. "But I guess the moves came back to me, kind of like riding a bike."
Wrestling at 170 pounds, Alvarado swarmed foe Michael Adams. He built a 10-0 advantage before pinning his Erie counterpart in 2 minutes, 41 seconds.
"As soon as I got him on his back the first time, I wasn't sure I wanted to end it that quick," Alvarado said. "The longer a match goes, the better you get in the long run. You get better speed, you get better conditioned, you get better situationally, so I wanted to drag it out to at least the second period."
Mead also got pins from Sage Budd at 113 pounds and freshman heavyweight Jack Gallegos. The Mavericks trailed 27-16 with five matches to go, but Alvarado and Gallegos sandwiched wins around three Erie forfeits due to vacant weight classes.
"We went out there and got after it," Mead coach Ty Tatham said. "The thing about Erie is they're going to come out and they're going to wrestle hard. Some of our matches, I don't think we quite met the level they were at, and other ones we definitely did."
Tatham is delighted to have Gallegos back with the season heading for the home stretch.
"Saturday is going to be another big test, and we have Windsor in our pool," said Tatham, referring to the Tri-Valley League dual meet. "The fact that he'll have five matches on Saturday will help him get back into the swing of things."
Thursday marked the final home meet of the season for Erie, but it wasn't as emotional for the Tigers as it would have been for most programs.
The Tigers have no seniors, so everyone will be back.
That didn't stop Brandon Wetsch from putting on a show for the occasion. The Tigers' only returning state qualifier -- he finished fifth as a freshman, fourth last season as a sophomore -- was simply beastly, recording a pin against Mead freshman Joe Staiano in 17 seconds at 132 pounds.
"It was still special in our own little way," Wetsch said of the final home dual.
The youthful Tigers often have difficulties in duals because they are vacant in three of the upper weights (182, 195 and 220).
"We are a team, but we don't really focus on the team points," Wetsch said. "We just focus on our individual matches and try to guide each other."
Erie also got pins from 120-pounder Christian Hernandez, who finished Mead's Dyllan Burch in 1:53, and William Schell at 145. Schell, who is a triplet, pinned Mead's Michael Burnett in 1:48.
Schell's sisters, Kathryn and Anna, are members of the Longmont girls basketball team.
Another of Erie's state hopefuls, Ladd Bunker, won his match against Mead's Marco Clark at 160 pounds. The Mavericks senior was able to avoid a pin, however, and Bunker had to settle for a triumph by a 12-7 decision.
The Tigers' highlight of the night undoubtedly was Wetsch's quick work of Staiano.
"The key to it was the key to every match," Wetsch said. "Just go out there mentally prepared to wrestle the way I wrestle, and I just got after it as physical as I could and as fast as I could."
On the downside, spectators weren't afforded the opportunity to watch Mead 182-pounder Kyle Couch. The junior was coming off a win in the ultra-challenging Top of the Rockies, but received a forfeit win with Erie vacant at the weight.
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Mead 46, Erie 27
At Erie HS
106 -- Anthony Nieto, Erie won by forfeit; 113 -- Sage Budd, Mead, pinned Manny Rodriguez, Erie, :27; 120 -- Christian Hernandez, Erie, pinned Dyllan Burch, Mead, 1:53; 126 -- Austin VanHooker, Mead, dec. Tobias Campbell, Erie, 12-5; 132 -- Brandon Wetsch, Erie, pinned Joe Staiano, Mead, :17; 138 -- Cristian Cortez, Mead, dec. Jake Schadler, Erie, 5-3; 145 -- William Schell, Erie, pinned Michael Burnett, Mead, 1:48; 152 -- Hugo Ramirez, Mead, major dec. Elijah Roper, Erie, 8-0; 160 -- Ladd Bunker, Erie, dec. Marco Clark, Mead, 12-7; 170 --Gabe Alvarado, Mead, pinned Michael Adams, Erie, 2:36; 182 -- Kyle Couch, Mead, won by forfeit; 195 -- Gabe Robinson, Mead, won by forfeit; 220 -- Jorge Cortez, Mead, won by forfeit; 285 -- Jack Gallegos, Mead, pinned Colby Sweeney Erie, 2:41.