Eddie Buffington glanced up at the scoreboard as Skyview huddled in a circle.
Owning a five-point lead, the senior thought the match was over and that the Panthers had claimed their third-place dual over Colony's second team in Saturday's Peninsula Duals at Nikiski High School.
That's when the Knights' 103-pounder Isaac Wilson walked onto the mat and toward the referee, who promptly raised his arm in triumph, a crushing blow to Skyview as their final forfeit cost them the match, 39-38, leaving them in fourth place.
"I thought we won. I thought we totally won," Buffington said. "I forgot about the forfeit at 103. I was shocked."
As was senior Patrick Sheridan, although he still believes the Panthers were successful.
"We did win seven out of 10 matches that we wrestled," he explained. "Personally, I think it was kind of a victory for us even if it wasn't technically a victory."
Both upperclassmen did their part, along with Kenny Mahan, in earning three consecutive swift pins to stake the Panthers to a comfortable cushion before the Knights stormed back.
On the other mat, Colony's top team earned the title with a dominating 52-18 victory over second-place Kodiak.
"We had a great weekend. We lost to both Colony teams and Colony's the No. 1 team in the state," said Skyview coach Neldon Gardner. "Kodiak and Colony are two of the top teams in the state. We've got a young team."
Bethel took fifth with a 51-18 win over Sitka and Homer earned seventh place with a 42-30 triumph over Kenai.
But it was Buffington who stole the show.
Earning the most outstanding wrestler award for the 189-pound weight class, he cruised through the tournament with an 8-0 record, the only Panther to do so, and even defeated Michael Gonzalez, Barrow's 215-pound defending small-schools state champion, on Friday.
"We're working hard with Eddie," Gardner said. "He's had a couple of tough tournaments in his sophomore year and his junior year. He's done what I've asked him." Considered by many to contend for a state title as a junior, Buffington was unable to make the trip because of academic reasons.
Now, he's hoping to avenge that loss.
"I'm definitely looking forward to possibly redeem myself from football," he said. "I was ranked No. 1 in the state and then my trig class, I failed. I'm looking to redeem myself from that, too."
He's certainly off to a good start.
After Sheridan (171 pounds) pinned Colony's Josh Don in just 14 seconds, saying afterward he knew he needed to get the ball rolling, Buffington dominated Cody James to the tune of a 24-second pin in giving his team a 32-27 edge.
"Eddie has everything potential to win the title," Gardner said. "There's so many aspects of wrestling besides actual wrestling. We've got to be healthy. As we found out last year, he has to pass his classes.
"As long as Eddie is eligible, and he doesn't fault anybody. He knows what he did last year," he added. "He's the first to say, 'I've got to pass my classes and I've got to be healthy and eligible.' If he's in that situation, I'm not saying he'll walk through it, but I'm saying he should be ranked No. 1 in the state. He is the strongest kid on our team."
Mahan (215) followed that with a pin of his own, beating Cody Mattes in 45 seconds for a commanding 38-27 advantage.
"Those guys have been working hard and Colony has a little less depth at that weight. They're stronger in the lower weights by far," Gardner said of the back-to-back-to-back pins. "And one or two of their real tough upper weights are not here this weekend. We were just glad to come out and wrestle them tough because they can blow you out real quick."
But Skyview's Claud Mraz couldn't continue the streak and was pinned in 3:45 by Dillon Buck, making it 38-33 before Colony's Wilson claimed six points for the forfeit.
"I knew the predicament. I knew we couldn't get pinned at heavyweight. So, I knew that was what was happening," Gardner explained. "But Claud's a good, solid kid and he tried hard. We're not complaining.
"These kids are working hard. They know where they finished last year and the deal for me, I'm in my 25th year of coaching, I told them, 'I'm only coming back if you guys are going to commit to it.' And they did," he added. "They're committing to it and I'm glad I'm here and I'm glad I'm working with them."
Bryce Wilson (112) started things off for the Panthers in earning an easy 17-0 win over Brandon Woolsey and senior Alex Janorschke (130) fought his way to a pin over Dan Gregory in 4:42.
With the score knotted at two and Janorschke on the mat to begin the final period, he struggled to escape Gregory's grasp before finally taking him down and holding on for the fall.
"He had me around the ankles. I was facing away from him so I turned around and then I just put my shoulders into his upper body and rolled him over," Janorschke said. "I was trying to get him down."
Having qualified for but not placing in the state tournament the past couple of seasons, Janorschke is hoping for better results this time around.
"I'm hoping to jump that fence this year," he said. Skyview's Jared Thomas (140) also earned a tough win over Ryan Knutson, earning a takedown at the end of the second and another in the final 30 seconds of the third in winning, 8-4.
"I thought he was going to be easier than he was," the sophomore said. "I went out there and he started to put up a pretty good match. But I decided I have to pretty much kick it in."
Matthew Carroll can be reached at email@example.com.
Colony 52, Kodiak 18
103 Coisman, Col, p. Nelson, Kod, 3:05
112 Ivanoff, Kod, dec. Vukick, Col, 2-1
119 K. Wilson, Col, p. Castinguoy, 1:22
125 Beauchamp, Col, dec. Cubbedge, Kod, 8-0
130 Boss, Col, p. Cubbedge, :24
135 Eggemeyer, Kod, p. Pfeiffer, Col, 2:58
140 Van Ness, Col, dec. Fields, Kod, 9-4
145 Krueger, Col, p. Rounsaville, Kod, 2:31
152 Crozier, Col, p. Gabor, Kod, 1:55
160 Branson, Kod, maj. dec. Olivera, Col, 13-0
171 Milner, Col, dec. Anthony, Kod, 8-3
189 Caswell, Kod, p. Boykin, Col, 3:57
215 Wright, Col, p. Martin, Kod, 3:45
HWT Pritchett, Col, p. Long, Kod, 1:45
Colony 39, Skyview 38
103 R. Wilson, Col, won by forfeit
112 B. Wilson, Sky, tech fall Woolsey, Col, 17-0
119 K. Boss, Col, won by forfeit
125 Hutchison, Sky, won by forfeit
130 Janorschke, Sky, p. Gregory, Col, 4:42
135 Wrench, Col, dec. Jackson, Sky, 7-2
140 Thomas, Sky, dec. Knutson, Col, 8-4
145 Filkins, Col, won by forfeit
152 Trask, Col, p. Pollard, Sky, 1:58
160 James, Col, won by forfeit
171 Sheridan, Sky, p. Don, :14
189 Buffington, Sky, p. James, Col, :24
215 Mahan, Sky, p. Mattes, Col, :45
HWT Buck, Col, p. Mraz, Sky, 2:29
Bethel 51, Sitka 18
103 R. Hanson, Bet, p. O'Neill, Sit, 1:32
112 Abt, Sit, won by forfeit
119 Richardson, Bet, dec. MacIntyre, Sit, 7-0
125 O'Brien, Bet, dec. Carlson, Sit, 9-6
130 Chavez, Bet, p. Erickson, Sit, 2:58
135 Samuelson, Bet, p. M. Hanson, Sit, 1:30
140 J. McIntyre, Bet, p. Poindexter, Sit, 1:50
145 McDonald, Bet, p. Lehman, Sit, 1:05
152 double forfeit
160 Chavez, Bet, dec. Johnson, Sit, 6-4
171 Torgeson, Sit, won by forfeit
189 Wasierski, Bet, p. Mille, Sit, 3:01
215 Feldnausch, Sit, won by forfeit
HWT Thomas, Bet, p. Boydston, Sit, :33
Homer 42, Kenai 30
103 Garney, Hom, won by forfeit
112 Edge, Hom, won by forfeit
119 Osbekoff, Ken, p. B. Wyatt, Hom, :45
125 B. Daigle, Hom, p. Sterling, Ken, :35
130 Hughes, Ken, p. Locklar, Hom, :50
135 Appelhanz, Hom, won by forfeit
140 Brymer, Hom, p. Connor, Ken, 1:05
145 M. Wyatt, Hom, won by forfeit
152 Boyle, Ken, p. Mayes, Hom, 1:10
160 Hensler, Ken, dec. Weinfurter, Hom, 5-1
171 Edge, Hom, dec. Dambacher, Ken, 7-3
189 Quade, Ken, won by forfeit
215 double forfeit
HWT Lipps, Hom, p. Harville, Hom, :20
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