By Kevin Eickman
Before the wrestling season began coach Dan Rigby was hoping that his athletes would build a team spirit that would carry on into the future. He was looking for younger wrestlers to learn and more experienced wrestlers to lead by example. Wednesday night proved to be a big step in that process, as Milford had their hands full with a more than potent Dover High School squad. In a meet that tested the mettle of both teams, Milford emerged with a hard fought 41-31 victory.
The meet started out looking ominous for the Buccaneers as Carlos Nino, the 106 pound sophomore, looked to be struggling. Luckily for Milford Nino was able to reverse his fortune and achieve a key victory in the match by pinning his opponent “Carlos was very important for us tonight, he set the tone for the entire evening,” commented Coach Rigby. “He is moving to Texas, so we won’t have him around anymore but he is a pleasure to have coached.”
Milford got off to a quick lead thanks to the win by Nino, a forfeit, and another fall by sophomore Mar’keis Young at 120 pounds. With those first three victories, Milford got off to the quick start that Rigby felt was essential if the Bucs where going to have a chance at victory. “We needed to get off quickly tonight, that was the key,” stated Rigby. “Everyone had a job to do tonight and those guys got sent out to set the tone, and they did.”
Milford looked to be comfortably ahead with a 32-11 advantage thanks to a victory by sophomore Matt Groce at 152 pounds and again seemed to have a comfortable advantage pushing their lead to 38-17. Milford was now in the position of having to hold on to the lead they had so easily built. At 182 pounds, freshman Clay Stevenson was tasked with battling a much more seasoned opponent. Stevenson battled valiantly, losing by decision, but limiting Milford’s losses by not getting pinned or losing by a major decision.
“For a young guy like Clay to step in there and perform like that is impressive,” commented Rigby. “He is learning more and getting better and better each day, it’s great to see.”
Milford’s John Harmond also needed to put his team ahead of himself. With his opponent egging him on, trying to catch Harmond off guard, John would not take the bait. While he lost the match, his loss by non-fall ensured Milford would win the match. “John was great tonight, he was real big just when we needed him to be,” state Coach Rigby.