After a spirited start in the upper and lower weight classes, the Durango High School wrestlers fell 51-21 to the midsection of Fruita Monument in their last regular season dual meet before Regionals.
At 189 pounds, where he wrestled four years at the DHS gym, Justin Whirlow won his final dual-meet match, beating Steve Adleman 6-2.
Whirlow took Adleman down hard in the opening seconds of the first, gaining another takedown in the second.
The Wildcat earned two escapes - his second with 12 seconds until the final buzzer - before Whirlow took advantage of an Adleman gamble for his final takedown and a 6-2 result.
Fruita Monument's Matt Remy, ranked No. 13 in the state at 215 pounds, held a 7-0 lead against Tyler Scott before forcing a pinfall with 15 seconds remaining in the second.
Durango sophomore Rudy Peterson drove his legs through the guard of freshman Nathan Johnson for an early shot and a takedown, following with a pin just more than a minute into their 103-pound match.
"Rudy finally got back on track after he's had a tough couple of weeks," said Durango head coach Doug Cuddie. "It was a good win for him, he beat a good kid."
No. 3-ranked 119-pounder Ty Penning beat Fruita Monument's Justin Byers by a pin after a reversal 19 seconds into the second period, giving Durango a 21-12 team lead after a forfeit victory at 112.
"If we could start there all the time, we'd be fine, but unfortunately we're just young in some of the other weight classes," Cuddie said.
"We're young in the lower weight classes," said Fruita Monument head coach Brook Stockert. "We get into the meat of our lineup around the middleweights and heavyweights.
"We've been down quite a ways in several duals this year and come back hard in that part of our lineup, so that's kind of what we depend on for the duals." Fruita Monument would not lose again.
At 125 pounds, Jeff Gonzales held on for a 7-3 win despite a valiant effort from Durango senior Jesse Ollier to produce an escape that would have tied the match at four apiece in the third period.
Durango's Elliott Salazar and Ryan Barakat - who typically wrestles for the Wildcat JV squad - were scoreless at 130 pounds until Barakat won an escape with one minute left in the final period. Salazar made a desperation shot that Barakat turned over for a takedown and a 3-0 lead that became a 3-1 final after a last-second Salazar escape.
Justin Bueno pinned James Ouelette with 1 minute left at 135 pounds.
Logan McNulty followed suit with a 140-pound win, leveraging a five-point flurry midway through the second period for an 8-1 victory over Cory Prentice of Durango.
The Wildcats closed out the dual emphatically, on three consecutive pins with increasing haste.
At 145, Lane Young finished Dakota Sutherlin 20 seconds into the second period.
Next, at 152, Kyle Hamaker pinned Brandon Stagner late in the first period.
And in the morning's final bout, C.W. Waters pinned Durango's Trent Scott at 160 halfway through the first.
"We finished off our dual season this year with a win (Friday) night at Cortez and a win here in Durango," Stockert said. "It's always good to come down to this part of the country and win both dual meets."
The Demons' next action will come in Regionals at Legacy High School in Broomfield, beginning at 3 p.m. on Friday.
"The dual-meet season's over with, now we go into the tournament season, and individually we'll be fine," Cuddie said. "We've got some good kids who are ready to go to the state meet."
"Our goal all year was to prepare for the Regionals and go to the state meet after that."
The State Championships will take place from Feb. 19-21 at the Pepsi Center in Denver.