WEST LIBERTY — Ivan Escobedo and the West Liberty wrestling team wanted the opposition to know whose house it was.
As one of five senior wrestlers competing in the team's final home meet of the season Thursday night, the Comets made sure their home was well-guarded against visiting squads from Muscatine and Cascade.
West Liberty lost just three head-to-head matches and easily swept their duals with the Muskies and Cougars at West Liberty High School on Thursday night.
The Comets cruised past Cascade 59-18 and beat the Muskies 59-12. Cascade took advantage of a depleted Muscatine lineup in a 45-28 win. Muscatine's 152-pounder Bronson Brown led the Muskies with two wins on Thursday.
"This means a lot for me and my team," Escobedo said. "We're doing great and beating teams by 30, 35 points. ... We're just looking really tough."
The five senior wrestlers on the mat for West Liberty on Thursday — Escobedo, Jakob Barten, Josh Walshire, Noah Barten and Blake Lathrop — won all but one of their matches.
Escobedo won a 12-7 decision at 145 pounds over Cascade's Cole Hoffman and pinned Muscatine's Gavyn Ashley in 2 minutes, 57 seconds at 138 pounds.
When moving up in weight from 138 to 145 for the match against Hoffman, Escobedo said he had to be more cautious.
"I couldn't be as aggressive, I had to be more careful with how I did it," Escobedo said. He added with regard to the Ashley match, "I was just working the armbar the whole match trying to get it, and finally got it in that second period and pinned him."
One of the night's more exciting finishes came at 170 pounds in the final dual of the evening between West Liberty's Jakob Barten and Garrett Brunson of Muscatine.
Barten dominated early, building a 7-1 lead midway through the second period, but Brunson battled back and, with about eight seconds left, appeared to have tied the match at 7-all with a takedown.
With time running out, Barten said he had to move fast to get out from under Brunson and regain the lead.
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"Bottom is my best position," Barten said. "I hit the switch right away."
The switch was a swift reversal of fortune for Brunson as the official counted the reversal as the two were falling out of bounds, putting Barten ahead by two points with six seconds left. Brunson was unable to find an answer before the final buzzer.
Barten credited a strong mental outlook he and his teammates have carried with them while on the mat to being able to think quickly enough to get the reversal.
"[West Liberty coach Jeff Wiele] always tells us that half of wrestling is being mentally prepared," Barten said. "We're doing great. ... We've just got to get in better shape, get cleaned up technically and not think so much about the future."
Muscatine's Brown scored an 11-3 major decision over Zach Kurt of Cascade and pinned AJ Lenz in 2:57 for his two victories on Thursday.
In the case of Lenz, he was someone Brown was very familiar with after beating him three times in the past, all by pinfall and as recently as last Saturday's Gary Curtis Invitational at Highland, giving Brown a confidence boost heading into that match. As for Kurt, Brown scored a flurry in the third period to create distance.
"I saw [Kurt] was really tired ... [and] once you break someone's will enough you can get a lot more opportunities to score," Brown said.
Muscatine struggled in the dual without several wrestlers, including Mitch Paca, out with an illness, and Kevin Johnson, out with a groin injury.
Ashley, Brunson, Colton Oldfield and Eli Hart all got pinfall victories in the dual with Cascade.
"We still wanted to try and win as many of our contested matches as possible," Muscatine coach Wade McLeod said. "I told the guys we wouldn't be defeated ... but there were holes that we obviously couldn't fill."
Brown added, "This is a strong team we have. The matches are starting to go our way and a lot of guys are turning the corner and doing better at the end of the season."