DAVIS — Coming into Thursday, there may have been some questions surrounding the shape of Davis junior Braden Ruth.
Wrestling in a new class (heavyweight), and in his first match of the season following a sterling campaign on the football field, there were questions about how much of his form would remain from a year ago, when Ruth dazzled en route to a state title in the 220 class of 3A.
So much for those questions. Ruth took all of 10.2 seconds to reassert his dominance, earning a quick pin in his return to the match Thursday against Sulphur.
"It's a different kind of shape you need to be in," Ruth said. "I'm still working towards getting there."
While the Wolves came up short in a 39-35 team loss, coach Sherrill Neal was still glad to see the competitiveness of his squad, who fell in an early hole due to four forfeited matches.
"We had some kids on vacation for the holidays, and they still haven't gotten back yet," Neal said. "We need to work on our conditioning and getting back in shape more than anything."
One of those benefactors from a forfeit was Sulphur's Ike Flowers, a two-time state qualifier for the Bulldogs who will surely see some action as the year goes on.
But among the contested matches, there were some gems, especially at the 152-pound weight class, where Davis' Hunter White earned a thrilling 7-4 decision over Sulphur's Stephen Baker.
White, a state qualifier a year ago, earned all of his points in the first period, then held on as Baker attempted a furious comeback.
"He only got to practice twice during Christmas, so when he got ahead he couldn't keep it up because he wasn't in great shape," Neal said. "He's a really good competitor and a good wrestler, and that helped him push through it tonight."
As for Ruth, he plans to continue getting better and working to earn another state title.
"It felt really good to be back out there," Ruth said. "I know how that feeling was last year and I want to get back to it, so that motivates me."
Neal is hoping that effort can rub off on the rest of his team, something he expects out of a leader like Ruth.
"He's a great athlete and a great kid," Neal said. "He does exactly what you want him to do and you love having kids like that."