Athlete of the Week

Jan 10, 2013 12:18 AM by Derek Buerkle - KPAX Sports

Athlete of the Week, ready to rumble at state

MISSOULA - A pair of Missoula stars met up under the spotlight of a state championship last February.

Sentinel's Jaydn Wilson and Big Sky's Darby Maier collided in the 215 pound wrestling final in Billings, and Wilson grabbed the title with a 14-8 win.

But in a much-anticipated rematch last week, the runner-up learned what it takes to be a champion. And that makes the senior Eagle our athlete of the week.

"I felt like I should have won it last year, in a way you know," said Maier. "I had a lot of mistakes that I should have capitalized on last year. I learned how to take care of it this year."

The Garden City Duels feature all of Missoula's best. But on Saturday everyone was talking about Maier versus Wilson. The Sentinel state champ jumped out to an early 4-0 lead. But the match was far from over.

"I've seen him be in situations where, I mean very easy for him to quit," said Big Sky head coach Lanny Bryant. "But when he gets desperate, he doesn't quit. Period."

"I could feel him start to get tired a little bit, you know," said Maier. "I knew he was going to try and take me down several times. That's his strength is on his feet. So I just wanted to get on the mat with him. I know that's my strength."

Maier rebounded with nine straight points, to claim the victory 9-4. The two might never meet again. Wilson has moved up to the heavyweight division this year, and cut weight to set up the showdown. Maier earned plenty from the triumph. But he doesn't care about redemption.

"I don't really look at it that way, but you could say that," said Maier. "It definitely helps. I learned a lot. If you don't learn, what's the point, right?"

Maier, Wilson, and the rest of Missoula's star wrestlers get a great chance to show their skills this week, too. The highly competitive Jug Beck Rocky Mountain Classic starts on Friday.

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