Welcome to high-school wrestling, Gilbert Antillon.
And welcome to a Mullen team that appears to be strong from the middle of the lineup and throughout the lower weights.
On a very snowy Tuesday night and after weeks of delay and doubt concerning any type of competition as a result of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the Mustangs opened the new Season B with a rousing 42-36 decision of usually good Arapahoe in Centennial League action that also occurred in a different setting, the school’s Green Room, the multi-sport, indoor practice facility.
Mullen won eight of the bouts – four by pin, two decisions and one each by forfeit and injury default. All but one of the matches the Warriors won came through forfeits.
“We came out physical with a fast pace and that’s what we wanted,” Mustangs head coach John Howes said. “They went out there with the fire I wanted and were impressive.”
Noah Linares (126 pounds, fall in 3 minutes, 38 seconds), Mark Troni (145, 1:42), Kaleb Valdez-Lemos (160, 1:58) and Hayden Woodruff (Hwt., 2:22) made quick work of foes, especially impressive when considering the underlying theme of possibly not having a season and beginning about nine weeks later than usual. Plus, there was just one week of preseason practice and -- get this -- winners were told to raise their own hands.
Antillon, too, had the distinction of earning Mullen’s first actual victory on the mat, a 6-5 decision at 113 in his debut schoolboy bout after another freshman, Dale O’Blia, copped the Mustangs’ first points by taking a forfeit victory at 106.
“It was amazing,” Antillon said. “It felt great to win.” He also was drained physically, explaining that getting used to 2-minute periods, 30 seconds longer than he had been wrestling, was challenging, “but I was just happy I won.”
Winning for the Mustangs also was modified by comments afterward ranging from unwanted boredom to finally being able to wrestle, improvement and the team’s strength at the lower end of the lineup.
Linares, sixth at the Colorado meet a season ago, said “we’re pretty stacked at the lower weights, so if we do our part we’ll be fine.”
Troni, fifth at state in the past year, said “it felt good to be back on a somewhat normal season. I didn’t know if there would be a season and so much uncertainty made training hard.”
Also an accomplished club competitor, Valdez-Lemos was disappointed “in the quality of my shots; I should have done better,” and Woodruff, who battled an early calf cramp, is convinced “I have more confidence in myself.”
Max Gonzales, a 120-pounder, won a hard-fought 6-2 decision and Adam Domenico was victorious through injury default at 152.
It was just one dual meet, but Domenico, like others, summed it up appropriately.
“I was upset when I thought we wouldn’t have a season,” he said. “But it felt great to be out there.”
And add another element to the new Season B – female competition is sanctioned and several teams will join together to ensure dual-match bouts. On this night, Arapahoe, Heritage and Mullen were among teams that got together. Mullen two-time state champion Alina Antillon provided the norm – she won by pin at 136 in 52 seconds to improve to 52-1 in a stellar career.
“I was really happy to get out here and compete under Mullen again,” she said. Antillon had been training out of state, where rules weren’t as strict, and “I felt myself progress. It was nice. And this was definitely a good start.”
It was on the first night of what will be a whirlwind of a season over seven weeks with 20 regular-season matches permitted, but Mustangs spirits are lifted.
Next for Mullen will be hosting Cherokee Trail on Thursday.
MULLEN 42, ARAPAHOE 36
106 pounds – Dale O’Blia, Mullen, won by forfeit.
112 – Gilbert Antillon, Mullen def. Dylan Schafer 6-5.
120 – Max Gonzales, Mullen def. John Montoya 6-3.
126 – Noah Linares, Mullen pinned Jacob Tharp, 3:38.
132 – Brayden Burr, Arapahoe, won by forfeit.
138 – Adam Domenico, Mullen, won by injury default over Parker Cotton.
145 – Mark Troni, Mullen, pinned PyrShawn Miller, 1:38.
152 – Skyler Evans, Arapahoe, pinned Jacob Robbins, 1:56.
160 – Kaleb Valdez-Lemos, Mullen, pinned Ian McCall, 1:58.
170 – Trevin Reinders, Arapahoe, won by forfeit.
182 – T.J. LaFrancis, Arapahoe, won by forfeit.
195 – Clayton Christ, Arapahoe, won by forfeit.
220 – Hussein Safieddine, Arapahoe, won by forfeit.
Hwt. – Hayden Woodruff, Mullen, pinned Connor Ward, 2:22.