Denver Steamboat Springs wrestler Houston Mader has a nasty habit of taking his matches down to the wire before somehow pulling out the win.
The Sailors' lone representative at the Colorado High School Activities Association 4A State Wrestling Tournament stuck with what's worked Thurs-
day night at the Pepsi Center in Denver. Mader outlasted Niwot opponent Jeff Lambert, beating him, 5-4, in three long, hard-fought periods in the first round of the 135-pound bracket.
The first period had both grapplers shooting for legs and trying for takedowns around the perimeter and ended with the referee scoring a two-point takedown for Lambert and then reversing his call.
Mader looked to close the second period with a reversal to go up, 2-1, but Lambert quickly responded with a reversal of his own to regain the lead.
Down, 3-2, with a minute to go in the final period, Mader was faced with a choice.
"I didn't just want to escape and stand up to tie," he said. "I wanted that reversal, so I was just waiting for him to get out of position."
While Mader waited and the clock ticked, the urgency in coach Sean McCarthy's mat-side yells only increased.
Mader got his reversal and went up, 5-3, to hold on for the win.
Niwot coach Scott Sanchez credited Mader's strength and ability, but thought he was outwrestled and questioned the referee's point decisions. Sanchez was pleased with the showing from Lambert (23-12), who barely grabbed the fourth qualifying spot out of his region. Mader (26-5) secured the No. 1 spot out of the Western Region.
"It's really a leap of faith to go for those back points and relent on the mid-section," McCarthy said. "He's got to learn to rack up more points, be greedy when he needs them and stingy giving them up."
The immediate need to break open matches is not lost on Mader, who will face Fountain-Fort Carson's Josh Lucero (23-8) in today's quarterfinals.
"It was really nerve-racking," Mader said after the match, coughing hard and sporting a bruised cheek. "I wish I didn't make it so close. I should've widened it out."
"We survive and advance," McCarthy said.