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Decatur brings down competition
"Decatur junior Dan Esbenshade had all the excuses in the world to roll over and give up in his match against Curtis senior Steve Graves. Esbenshade, who weighs 189 pounds, was wrestling up a weight class in the 215-pound division. Last year against Graves he didn't even score a point. This year he faced a six-point deficit as time was running out in the match. But that's when Esbenshade, after nearly six minutes of total exertion, pulled out one final feat of strength. He rolled over and pinned Graves with four seconds left in the match. I love the conditioning, coach, Esbenshade said, retaining enough energy for a smile as he came off the mat. I had more gas than he did. Decatur junior Brandan Bell also out-lasted his Curtis opponent, Jim Andrews, in the 130-pound weight class. Bell won after a winded Andrews was whistled for stalling while trying to catch his breath.Full-length matches require a complete six minutes of all-out wrestling, and no team in the South Puget Sound League knows that better than the league-leading Gators. On the heels of a 54-9 thumping of Curtis on Friday, Decatur wrestlers didn't take any time off to rest and enjoy the victory that improved their team's record to 12-0. Many of the lighter weight wrestlers, after taking care of business with wins earlier in the night, jumped rope while their heavier teammates finished up on the mat. Then, less than 12 hours after the win against Curtis, the Gators were back on the mat wrestling at the Klahowya Klassic on Saturday. The Gators didn't merely show up in the tournament. They won it. We have a lot of tough wrestlers, said Decatur junior Ryan Trotter, who pinned his Curtis opponent Friday then went on to win the 112-pound weight class of the tournament on Saturday. When you put good wrestlers on the mat, they're going to perform. Six Decatur wrestlers made it to the tournament finals and four won individual titles. I wasn't surprised, said Decatur coach Mike Bressler. I've got a lot of confidence in the kids - I'd like to see them all in the finals. Decatur's Jon Joseph pinned his opponent for the 103-pound championship, Trotter won 11-5 in the 112-pound final, Jason Bressler battled out a 3-2 win at 160 pounds and J.C. Ronnfeldt dusted the mat with a 15-0 win in the 275-pound weight class. Erik Honda, at 145 pounds, and Marco Boccatto, at 171 pounds, lost in the finals. Joseph is undefeated in league matches this season. While Decatur wrestlers might hate coach Bressler's grueling practices at the time, they can't deny it has paid off in matches.He won't let us slack off, Trotter said. Before a match, the undefeated record might go to your head. But he doesn't let it. Anybody can beat anybody on any given day.Trotter, Bressler, Esbenshade, Anthony Cassano, Marco Boccato and J.C. Ronnfeldt earned pins against Curtis. Bell, Honda, Joseph, Dalles Harwood, Benson Henderson and Nick McCluskey won their matches against Curtis on points.We're trying to wrestle as much as we can, getting back into shape, Mike Bressler said. A lot of the kids are stepping up. They're all starting to come around. I could go through the whole roster and say good things about each one of them.Decatur is at Rogers at 7:30 p.m. today, then the team completes the regular league season by hosting Puyallup at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday.Trotter said the team had two goals at the beginning of the season: beat Federal Way and be the South Puget Sound League champs. We like to set our goals high, and so far it's looking pretty good, Trotter said. "