It wasn't that they lacked the ammo.
Bayfield High School wrestling coach Todd McMenimen was just surprised that at Ignacio's Butch Melton Memorial Invitational last Saturday that his troops, including his two biggest boomers, appeared to hold much of it in reserve for reasons unknown.
"Two weeks ago, we were wrestling with confidence; we were shooting on people and attacking all the time, and, here today, neither one wanted to open up, take a shot in these tough matches at the end," McMenimen said, referring to championship-bout losses for senior Daniel Westbrook and junior John Foutz and also alluding to the fact no Wolverine earned a final-round victory with their final regular-season 3A/2A Intermountain League dual against top-ranked Alamosa scheduled for only six days later.
"I'm not disappointed in how we wrestled," said McMenimen, whose squad tallied 66 points and placed sixth. "We've got to learn how to finish those big ones at the end. There's lessons from every one of these matches."
Westbrook mowed down his first four foes at 220 pounds inside IHS Gymnasium by pin but slipped to 28-3 overall this winter after 2A Cedaredge's Taj Van der Linde pulled off a pin 39 seconds into the third period.
And at 195, Foutz (32-5) went 3-2, including two pins plus a forfeit win over IML rival Caleb Janowsky of Pagosa Springs after the Pirate had damaged a knee earlier in the meet. Both defeats came at the hands of Aztec's Caleb Varzeas, who won the weight with a head-to-head pin 1:56 into the first period.
"When those guys are firing their double-legs, they're unstoppable," McMenimen said. "Daniel took one there, just happened to go off the mat with it, but that was the only shot he took the entire match. We've got to get back to shooting; that's the big thing. They've got to understand they've got to open back up. We need to get back to that."
Sophomore 126-pounder Dylan Pickering (29-10) went 3-2 with a pair of technical-fall triumphs and finished third, while freshman 120-pounder James Mars (16-15) placed fourth with a 2-3 meet mark including a 14-1 major-decision loss against Aztec's Dylan St. Vrain and a 12-4 major decision loss to Aztec's Sammy Minton.
Freshman Kobe Prior placed sixth at 152 pounds and went 2-3 with two pins, but a loss to IML standout Matthew Broughton of Montezuma-Cortez came via the same manner in just 36 ticks.
Geron Goring placed sixth at 145 with a 2-3 mark, while 170-pounder Shane Moore and 113-pounder Simon Schneider finished and placed likewise. Senior Colby Baker ended up 1-3 at 132, as did freshman Avery Mitzlaff at 106.
Following a scheduled senior night visit Friday from IML force Alamosa, Bayfield will next see action Feb. 15-16 at the 3A Region 1 Championships inside the Montrose Event Center.
"Self confidence right now that we should have, and we did have earlier in the season ... we're kind of lacking right now," stated McMenimen. "If we'll start believing in ourselves, these guys can wrestle with anyone in the state."