BAYFIELD - The Wolverines tried everything against the machine of Centauri High School.Veteran wrestling coach Herb Stinson juggled his lineup, moving several wrestlers up to higher weight classes in an effort to derail the Falcons, ranked No. 1 in the state in Class 3A.
"I tried to put a wrench in the works ... I tried to make it interesting," Stinson said with the hint of a smile after Centauri won Thursday night's dual 44-27 at the Bayfield High School gym.
"With another match here or there," Stinson said, "it could have turned. But I'm pleased. We had five wins; they had seven wins ... we gave up the two (forfeits). That's a good day of wrestling."
Stinson tried to create team scoring opportunities for the matchup with the state's top-ranked team and a Falcons' lineup that included five state tournament placers from a year ago.
Of the four wresters he bumped up, three won crucial matches to keep the dual in doubt.
Taylor Swanemyr, Bayfield's usual 140-pounder, wrestled up at 145 pounds Thursday night. He pinned Centauri's Jared Hamilton midway through the third period after building a 9-2 lead.
Aaron Velasquez, wrestling at 160 instead of his usual 152, won the tightest match of the night when he edged Centauri's Justin Hamilton 7-6 with an escape with 34 seconds remaining.
Markus Eckstein of the Wolverines, wrestling at 215 instead of 189, further reinforced Stinson's plan when he pinned Jesus Medellin late in the second period.
Bayfield also tacked on a win from state tournament veteran Trevor Huntsman at 125 pounds. He pinned Dekota Behr with 1:13 to go in the second period after establishing a commanding 19-7 lead.
The most spirited win for the Wolverines came in the 171-pound match.
Jeff Huffmyer fell behind Centauri's Justin Rogers 12-6 in the third period. Rogers, who finished third in the state tournament last year, added two more points early in the final period to lead 14-6.
Huffmyer, however, responded with a reversal that led to a pin combination.
Huffmyer completed the pinfall with 38 seconds remaining, coming from behind for the dramatic victory.
Centauri, as advertised, controlled the other weight classes. The Falcons picked up forfeit wins at 112 pounds (Jarrett Fringer) and heavyweight (Vincent Chacon).
At 103 pounds, Centauri's Ben Polkowski decisioned Sonny Salazar of Bayfield 17-1.
Mario Espinoza, fourth at state last year, edged Garrett Tyrrell of Bayfield 11-6 at 119 pounds.
Cahlen Keys, who was a state runner-up last year while compiling a 38-5 record, scored the fastest pin of the match. The Centauri wrestler and son of the head coach stopped Tanner McGhehey of Bayfield with 8 seconds left in the opening period of their 130-pound match.
At 135, Caleb Rodriguez of Centauri edged Cody Butero 8-4.
At 140, Phillip Sheridan, another state runner-up last year, pinned Bayfield's Cameron Shablo in the third period.
Iver Sandoval won for Centauri at 152 pounds. He wrestled Austin Thorne, Bayfield's usual 145-pounder. Sandoval won 13-2.
The Falcons added a big win at 189 when Ryan Finnegan beat Coty Towning 25-10.
"We've got a real tough wrestling room this year. That really helps," Centauri coach Randy Keys said. "These guys are friends off the mat, but in practice ... they get after it."
He said the Falcons try to do most of their work on their feet - in practice and in matches.
"You have to be able to wrestle on your feet these days," Keys said, adding that the Falcons' depth is relatively deceptive. While they field strong wrestlers in each of the 14 weight classes, the backups simply are not there.
"What you see is what we have," Keys said.
The Falcons, Keys said, always enjoy matching up with Stinson and the Wolverines.
"His guys know where the weight room is ... and now with Marshall Hahn here. He's only going to help," Keys said of the BHS alum and former state wrestling champion, who's an assistant coach with the Wolverines and former head coach at Durango High School.
"Marshall did a great job at Durango. He'll help, for sure," said Keys, who led Centauri to second place as a team at the state tournament last year - the third time in five years the Falcons have been in the top five at the state tournament.
Immediately after the match, the Wolverines boarded a bus bound for Page, Ariz., and the multistate Sand Devil Classic today and Saturday.