LONGMONT — The first dual match of the year isn't the greatest measuring stick for how the season is going to go, but in the case of new Silver Creek coach John Finkbiner and his Raptors, every win is a step in the right direction.
"It's definitely a good win. The guys are working hard on the stuff we were working on in the room and that is a breath of fresh air," said Finkbiner, whose team rewarded him with a 48-30 win over Niwot in his coaching debut. "There is some stuff we need to improve on, but overall I'm happy with the performance."
The night, which featured just seven matches in the 14 weight classes, started off with a bang for the Raptors. Zack Beckwith got things going at 126 pounds, scoring two takedowns of Niwot's Chase Timmerman in the first period and then another in the second before winning by pin at 3:23.
Finbinker's simple style and philosophy of getting back to the basics was on clear display most of the night. His guys wrestled with a sort of calm aggressiveness that was both patient and efficient.
At 145 pounds, Patrick Murray was up 2-1 in the third period against Pranil Lal when he made his mark. Lal made one wrong move and Murray was able to roll him onto his back and eventually get the six points for his team with a pin at 5:36.
"These guys just grind," Finkbiner said. "It would be better to have matches go six minutes earlier in the season, but its nice to go out there and work on the basics and get wins off those basics."
Justis Evans (160 pounds), C.J. Evans (170) and Sawyer Novara (113) all won their matches by pin as well, taking care of business in the second period against their opponents.
For Novara, who finished sixth last season at 106 pounds and will eventually make his way back down to that weight class before state, it was a bit of a bittersweet way to start the season. He was matched up against longtime friend Matthew Toles.
After one period, Novara was up 4-1 and that grew to 7-1 early in the second period courtesy of three back points. It ended at the 3:53 mark.
"I didn't really want to carry on too long because we are friends and all and I didn't really feel like trying to embarrass him," said a respectful Novara. "It's a good thing off the mat, but it's a bad thing on the mat, because you still have to go as hard as you can, even against your friends."
Niwot, now under the direction of coach Bobby Matthews, got impressive performances from both Tommy Stager and Alex Gazdick.
Stager, the Cougars best chance at ending a 23-year state title drought, got a chance to work on a few things in the first period against Michael Summers. He scored four takedowns, finished with five overall before sticking Summers at 2:46.
Gazdick also won by fall at 2:58 against Silver Creek's Keldan Stutzman.
In stark contrast to Finkiner's view of the night, Matthews was disappointed that the early work in the room didn't transfer to the mat on Day 1.
"We just weren't seeing the things we were working on, but those will come because we are very inexperienced as a group," Matthews said. "We saw some good things. We saw some aggressiveness tonight and I think that is one of those things that we are trying to change as a program, for them to be assertive and go after it."
SILVER CREEK 48, NIWOT 30
At Silver Creek
106 — Alan Ortiz, Niwot won by forfeit; 113 — Sawyer Novara, Silver Creek pinned Matthew Toles, 3:53; 120 — Alex Gazdick, Niwot pinned Keldan Stutzman, 2:58; 126 — Zack Beckwith, Silver Creek pinned Chase Timmerman, 3:23; 132 — Tommy Stager, Niwot pinned Michael Summers, 2:46; 138 — Abdullah Aziz, Niwot won by forfeit; 145 — Patrick Murray, Silver Creek pinned Pranil Lal, 5:36; 152 — Cody Holliday, Niwot won by forfeit; 160 — Justis Evans, Silver Creek pinned Aaron Nicoll, 2:24; 170 — C.J. Evans, Silver Creek pinned Nathan Hemenway, 2:58; 182 — Kanoa Gallegos, Silver Creek won by forfeit; 195 — uncontested; 220 — Kenny Jones, Silver Creek won by forfeit. 285 — Jacob Williams, Silver Creek won by forfeit.