The Western Dubuque wrestling team won five of the first seven bouts of its dual meet with Cedar Rapids Prairie, but it wasn’t enough as the Prairie Hawks pulled out the match, 44-36, in their Mississippi Valley Conference clash held in Epworth, Feb. 6.

The dual match, held on Senior Night for the Bobcats, started at 152 pounds which is where Levi Burds, one of the seven senior wrestlers in the starting line-up, does battle. He quickly took control of his match and ended it in the second period when he pinned Blaine Stepanek at 3:12.

Following him are five of the remaining six seniorss on the starting squad who were committed to giving the Bobcats a lead when the weight classes turned over to 106.

Senior Tony Lyon (160) pinned Nick Smith with nine seconds left in the first period.

Carter Kluesner (170), the only senior to lose on the night, dropped a tough 6-1 decision to Nicholas Pearson, a top-10 ranked wrestler.

Senior Jake Hosch (182) returned to the line-up and posted a pin in 3:48 over Jake DeGroot which gave the Bobcats an 18-3 advantage.

Back-to-back pins by seniors Joe Loffa (220) and Jonathan Savolt (285) put the Bobcats up 30-9 as they moved to the lighter weights and the final seven matches. Savolt’s pin was in 53 seconds, the fastest pin of the night for the Bobcats.

“Our guys wrestled really hard. We showed some awesome pins and displayed some awesome senior leadership. The seniors really stepped up at their last home dual,” said Paul Cleary, head coach of the Bobcats, about Seniors’ Night. “I couldn’t be more proud of their effort and what they do for this program. It’s a big deal to be a senior. The outcome is one thing, but what they’ve done for this program and what they’ve been a part of for the last four years is inspirational for me as a coach.”

Unfortunately, the Bobcats have several wrestlers in those lighter weight classes unavailable to compete while the Hawks are loaded with experienced wrestlers in those classes. That paid big dividends for the visitors who reeled off six wins in those seven matches to come away with the team dual victory.

The only Bobcat win in that run came from Jared Cordes (138), the final member of this year’s senior class. Cordes closed his career with class as he pinned Brady Nicewanner at 1:58.

“Sure we had guys out, but that doesn’t matter. I’m super proud of the guys that stepped in,” said Cleary. “We had some guys who are in their first year of wrestling and stepped in to wrestle against one of the better teams in the state. They did it for the team and there’s nothing better than seeing kids who love their school and love their teammates and are willing to go out and give it their best effort. That’s what high school athletics is all about and that’s what I love about our kids.”