University of Mary coach Adam Aho wondered how his wrestlers would respond coming out of the Thanksgiving break.
Wednesday night the Marauders replied with an exclamation point.
Make that four exclamation points. U-Mary scored bonus points in the first four bouts on the way to a 33-12 victory over Concordia College of Moorhead, Minn.
Nate Humann pinned at 125 pounds, Tate Barnhardt teched at 133, Hunter Eckert pinned at 141 and Rudy Guillen majored at 149 to give the host Marauders a 21-0 lead straight out of the blocks.
"We went out there with a lot of energy. ... I'm excited because they were excited, especially coming after Thanksgiving break," Aho said of his wrestlers. "... We added a couple more practices coming off the break in preparation for this dual, and I think it paid off."
The aggressive Marauders scored the first takedown in seven of the 10 matches and won seven of the 10.
Humann said Aho didn't preach to the men at the top of the lineup about the importance of getting out fast. Rather, Humann said it's a matter of athletes knowing their roles.
"We've got horses at the top of the lineup who can start a lot of duals that way," he observed. "It's one of those things that's expected of us. To go out and win and get bonus points -- that's awesome."
Eckert said there are benefits to a fast start in addition to the momentum gained.
"If we get bonus points right away strong, it gives us room to wrestle with later in the dual," he noted. "One thing we're trying to incorporate is to dominate. ... Even if you're winning, keep going and try to get bonus points."
The Marauders certainly scored well in that department, running up two falls, two technical falls and two majors. Phillip Springsteen posted a 12-1 major at 165 pounds and towering heavyweight Dom Tudor added U-Mary's second technical fall in the final bout of the night.
Neither Humann nor Eckert took the mat looking for a pin.
"(Jake Nohre) was on my leg and I hipped in and threw him in a headlock," Humann said.
Eckert said he capitalized on a mistake by Concordia's Adam Presler.
"I didn't have (a pin) on my mind. He just took a half-shot and left his head up. That certain move was not part of my game plan. It just happened," he said.
Aho, in his fifth season as U-Mary head coach, said he couldn't remember defeating Concordia in a dual.
"I don't think we've ever beaten them, but I don't know because we don't have records that go back that far," he said.
From records that are available, it's certain that Concordia had beaten U-Mary six straight times, dating back to 2010.
"They're a great program and it feels good to get that monkey off our back," Aho said.
However, Aho noted that winning a nonconference dual doesn't amount to much in comparison to what lies ahead. The Marauders head for the Dragon Open at Moorhead State on Saturday and then dive into the Northern Sun dual season the following weekend.
"Our conference is really tough. ... We've got to get our guys ready for the national tournament at the end of the year," he said.
Both teams were nationally ranked entering the dual. Concordia was the No. 21 team in the NCAA Division III poll and U-Mary sat 23rd in the Division II rankings.
Humann said a spot in the national rankings is, in part, a result of dues paid over the summer.
"A lot of our good wrestling is coming from work we put in over the summer," he said. "We've got some leaders who push the younger guys, and hold them accountable. We've got a good thing going in the wrestling room right now."