Wrestlers don't cry.
In Josh Satterwhite's case though, his team might allow an exception.
The Moffat County freshman injured his knee in the second period of the 189-pound match against Meeker. In between the second and third periods he fought back tears as the pain got worse.
He could have quit.
He didn't though, and his team, his coaches, his crowd, all loved him for it.
"(The knee) wasn't enough to stop me," the first-time varsity wrestler said. "The crowd made the difference."
Satterwhite locked up with the Cowboys' Dillon Pierce in the final match of the dual. Meeker was leading 32-30 and it all came down to two inexperienced wrestlers to decide the dual.
"Dillon had to drink water just to be heavy enough to wrestle at 160s," Meeker coach Willy Theos said. "We got him in there to try to give ourselves the best chance to win. We gave ourselves that chance but you can't predict them all."
Pierce and Satterwhite reversed, head locked and half-nelsoned back and forth. Going into the third period it was 11-11 after Pierce tied it up by holding Satterwhite on his back the last 35 seconds of the second period. The Bulldog's shoulders were out of bounds or he may have been pinned.
In the third, the Bulldog freshman wiped his tears, got on top in referee's position and proceeded to work Pierce to his back.
With the home crowd chanting something that was too loud to be understood, the referee pounded his hand to the mat with 1 minute, 37 seconds left in the period.
Everybody in blue reached for the sky with their best celebration leap.
"I felt like a state champion by winning that match," the freshman said. "It was Meeker and I just wanted to beat them."
The 189-pound finale capped off a sensational night of wrestling for everybody involved.
"Everybody sure got their money's worth," Moffat coach Roman Gutierrez said. "It was intense... the crowd won that last one for us."
Three of the final five matches went down to the final seconds.
At 145s two of each team's best wrestlers met. Nobody in the gym was sitting during the third period of that match between Korey Kostur and Joe Leblanc.
Kostur was up 1-0 in at the start of the third but Leblanc escaped 15 seconds into the period to tie it up.
Both wrestlers came close to takedowns in the next minute, and Leblanc was the first to conquer with a takedown 1:15 into the period. Kostur escaped with 27 seconds remaining and supporters of both teams were going crazy as Leblanc lead 3-2 and time ticked down. With 13 seconds remaining Kostur got the grip he wanted and took the Meeker wrestler to the mat and held him there for a 4-3 win.
"After he took me down I was thinking 'this is not good,'" Kostur said.
Kostur's undefeated season was seconds from being squandered but that wasn't what the junior was thinking about.
"All I could think about was my team," he said. "Besides, being undefeated is a curse for us Kosturs."
Both of Korey's brothers went into state undefeated but lost.
Gutierrez knew that the match between the two 145 pounders was a key for both teams.
"Nobody had earned a takedown all match and then each of them made a mistake," the coach said. "But Kostur's take down came last."
In another close match, Meeker's Jeff Overton and Moffat's Shayne Zimmerman waited until the final ticks on the clock to decide a winner. The 160-pounders were tied at eight when Overton took Zimmerman down with seven seconds left.
"Shayne struggled a bit with his conditioning," Gutierrez said. "He has been making weight fine but he might be a bit tired from cutting some. Both guys battled."
In other matches that were predicted to be close, both teams went 1-1. Meeker's Steven Rust took over in the third period to defeat Kyle Fredrickson 13-8 in the heavyweight match. Moffat's Jake Breslin led most of the way against Kyle Stout in the 112 match. Breslin earned a pin late in the second period. That wasn't the end of the tight matches. In the 135 class defending state champion Tyrel Stout of Meeker and Daniel Cramblett butted heads for three periods. Stout led most of the way but a reversal and two nearfall points in the third period brought Cramblett within 5-8. A loose headlock would doom Cramblett in the end as Stout reversed him and picked up a 10-5 win.
The Bulldogs led by 14 points after a forfeit at 215, Brice Boling's tech fall against Josh Prescott at 103s and Breslin's pin made it 17-3.
Then the meat of the Meeker line-up stepped to the mat. Wyatt Sampson pinned Moffat's Matt Kincheloe in 1:01 at 119s. Cody Clark shut out Chris McAlexander 16-0 in the 125 match and suddenly it was a tight one again with the score 17-15.
Eric Fredrickson lost his team a point by not taping his shoes before the 130-pound match but made up for it by defeating Roston Steiner, 19-4.
Cowboys Abram Bolloga (140) and Nick Ruckman (152) both pinned their opponents and the Class 2A team led their 4A opponents 32-24 with two matches remaining.
Moffat's Brent Chamberlain pinned Hank Crawford with 18 seconds left in the first to bring the Bulldogs within two points.
How close and competitive was the dual? Gutierrez rarely leaves his seat when his team wrestles. He spent most of the night on his feet.
"My roots in Meeker fuel the fire," he said. "In the matches that made the difference I thought we did well."
Last year the Meeker dual may have marked the low point for the Bulldogs after losing 36-35. They lost a senior after the dual and the team had to regroup. This year Gutierrez thinks there will be no need to regroup after the win.
"This should give us a little more momentum the way the team was behind each other tonight," he said. "It was a good night for Moffat County wrestling."
The Bulldogs will try to carry their momentum into Rifle's Rumble in the Rockies Saturday. They will be competing against six teams from the Eastern Slope. The first dual is at 8 a.m. against Pueblo Wes.
David Pressgrove can be reached at 824-7031 x211 or firstname.lastname@example.org