(Photos by David Jenkins, Staff)
After a nine day lay off, the Bulldogs put their strength to the test with three wrestlers representing the home squad. Senior Gavilan Bland (171 pounds), sophomore Nick De La Rosa (119), and freshmen Jacob Murphy (112).
With Bland and Murphy both receiving byes in the opening round, the Bulldogs' hopes for a first round win would lie on the sophomore, De La Rosa. However, the night didn't start out as planned for the home team after Mike King of Park Hills took De La Rosa the distance. After neither competitor was capable of pinning the other through three rounds, the match went to majority decision, allowing King to pull of a 12-4 win. De La Rosa also fell to Seth Revelle of North County by technical pinfall at the 5:44 juncture of the third round.
"Nick De La Rosa is in a tough weight class," said Sikeston head coach Kent Gibbs. "He had a couple of good kids right off the bat tonight but hopefully we can get him back on track tomorrow and in the wrestle backs, you just don't know what might happen."
After waiting for the first round to size up, Murphy and Bland had plenty of time to get fired up as both were focused and ready to step on the mat. Murphy would get the second round underway in the right way, putting a mark in the win column after pinning Dexter's Justin Robey 4:46 into the match. Although, returning from a nine day layoff it didn't seem to take the freshmen long to knock off the cob webs.
However, things were just beginning to pick up for the Bulldogs as the next match saw Bland's SEMO Conference debut get underway. It proved to be little contest for the senior who placed sixth at state a year ago, with Bland sealing the victory over Kenny Moritz of Park Hills by pin fall, only 47 seconds into the match.
"Gavilan and Jacob really didn't get tested tonight," said Gibbs. "But it gets a little bit tougher tomorrow and that's when the pace picks up. Hopefully we can get them both through and get them in the finals."
It was more of the same from Murphy and Bland in the third round with Murphy pulling off the win over Alec Thomas of Farmington 3:15 into the bout by pin-fall. Bland went on to beat Myers Wann of Winsor by pinfall at the 1:06 mark.
"Coach pretty much wanted me to work some stuff out tonight, get my heart rate up a little bit," said Bland. "I will have a tough match tomorrow but if I can beat (Tyler) Thomure of Ste. Genevieve I'll be number one my senior year."