Steve Lewis/Durango Herald
Durango’s Patrick Cunnion, locked in a tight wrestling match with David McCrae of Pagosa Springs, led 7-4 midway through the third and final period Friday night.
A takedown by McCrae cut the lead to a single point in the 170-pound match.
Two near-fall points with 32 seconds left in the match gave the Pagosa Springs wrestler an 8-7 lead before a loud and attentive crowd at the DHS wrestling gym.
But with his Durango teammates jumping up and down and cheering matside, Cunnion executed a stunning reversal with 12 seconds on the clock to win the match 9-8, setting off a huge ovation.
Leading the cheers was Durango senior Nick Tarpley, undefeated (22-0) and ranked No. 2 in Class 4A by coloradopreps.com.
A few minutes earlier, Tarpley led the cheers when DHS teammate Morgan Walts (138 pounds) came from behind in the third period to pin Aaron Yazzie of Pagosa Springs.
The comeback wins by Walts and Cunnion and another victory by the 152-pound Tarpley powered the DHS wrestlers to an emphatic 51-22 dual victory over the Pirates.
“Morgan’s been working really, really hard all year,” Tarpley said of his teammate.
“He deserves that win.”
Tarpley, who has yet to lose in Colorado or New Mexico this season, said a big comeback in a match is difficult.
“It’s really easy to get down when you are losing in a wrestling match,” he said. “It’s so much more personal than football or hockey ... another man is physically beating you. It’s very personal.
“That was great to see him (Walts) come back and get a pin,” said Tarpley, who extended his personal unbeaten record with a solid 9-2 decision of Kody Snow of Pagosa Springs, ranked No. 5 in Class 3A.
“It’s nice to get on a roll,” Durango head coach Doug Cuddie said after Friday night’s dual victory. “It’s like I told the guys, if we can get one guy going, then we get the next guy going, then the next guy.”
Early pins in the dual helped as the Demons built a 39-0 lead.
“Starting off, we got pin after pin after pin,” a happy Cuddie said.
“And we’re in way better shape than we were a month ago,” Cuddie said.
The conditioning helped Cunnion and Walts in their comeback victories.
“We’ve talked about staying off our backs and giving yourself a chance,” said Cuddie, who watched the Demons score eight pins in their 11 match victories.
“I was a little nervous at first ... scared actually,” Walts said of his match against Aaron Yazzie.
“Eventually, I thought if I wrestle a full six minutes as hard as I can, I could do it,” he said of overcoming an 8-3 deficit with his late third-period pin.
Walts said he could hear the roar of his teammates and the crowd in his match.
“The headgear amplifies everything you hear ... it was exhilarating,” said Walts, son of Brandi and Jeff Walts.
“It was important (to win) because it gave the rest of the team confidence. It was like if I could do it, they could do it, too,” Walts said.
And they did.
Matthew Lavengood (113) pinned Dylan Lynberg in 59 seconds.
Hunter Hall (120) pinned Wheldon Hughes midway through the first.
Clay Dillon (126) pinned Chris Archuleta after building a 15-2 lead.
Dillon Anthony (132) decisioned Michael Mills 15-10 in the highest scoring, most competitive match of the night.
Garrett Marcum (145) pinned Keith Archuleta early in the third period.
Lucas Sinnig (160) pinned Chase Purcell in 39 seconds.
Daniel Gustavson (220) pinned Alonzo Hernandez in the second.
Pagosa Springs picked up a win from 182-pounder Morgan Shelton, who decisioned Demetre Cullison. The Pirates also won at 195 when Dakota Todd pinned Jordan McKnight.
The Pirates’ other points came in forfeit wins at 106 and heavyweight.
“We’ve been on the other side of scores like this earlier this week, so it’s good to get this win,” Cuddie said.