COPPERAS COVE — Ellison High School’s Malik Garland was ahead 5-1 in the third period of his 120-pound weight-class match against Copperas Cove freshman Damian Harmon. This was Thursday night at Cove.

Any kind of win by the sophomore Garland, via pin or points, mathematically guaranteed Ellison would leave Cove with a win in this dual match.

After earning a 1-point escape 10 seconds into the scheduled two-minute final period, Garland chose not to play it safe. He didn’t want a win by points; he wanted a pin.

With 1:20 left to go, Garland — still ahead 6-1 — and Harmon circled each other and then Garland made his move.

“I took a shot,” Garland said.

Garland got low, grabbed Harmon’s legs and tripped him into the mat, upping his lead to 8-1. Harmon gave it a valiant effort in trying to escape, shifting every which way. But with 51 seconds left, the ref slapped the mat signaling pin, and Garland had his win. 

And so did Ellison, which ultimately prevailed by a team score of 62-18.

“I think tonight shows that we work very hard as a team,” Garland said. “Our coaches are amazing and we’re a very good team.”

In the first contested match on Thursday, Ellison senior Francisco Cortez (285) was dominant and pinned Joshua Deland in the third frame.

“For us, it’s all about practice, practice, practice,” Cortez said. “My coach (Geoffrey Van Ripper) has taught me everything I needed to learn. I just used what I’ve learned tonight on the mat, and was successful.”

Cove’s first win of the night was provided by sophomore Lane Teeter in the 106-pound weight class. Teeter was ahead of Ellison freshman Joseph Campos 2-1 after one period and then led 7-1 with 1:30 left in the second. Ten seconds later, Teeter made the pin.

“I get pushed really hard by my teammates and my coaches,” Teeter said.

Cove senior Anthony Murdoch (145) pulled off the most electrifying move of the night. Murdoch used a cradle to earn his pin 38 seconds into his match.

“The move showed up to me, so I just hit it,” Murdoch explained. “I just took my opponent’s head and put it as close to his knee as I possibly could. I held my arms together to make sure he couldn’t move and then put him on his back.”

In the meet’s final contested match, Ellison sophomore Da’Von Solomon (152) was victorious against Cove junior Cory Smith.

“Before the match started, I could see that I was facing a big, strong guy,” Solomon said. “I wanted to go for a shot in the beginning but he was throwing me around.”

Trailing 4-0, Solomon pulled off a reversal and with 20 seconds left in the first period made a pin.

“I managed to reverse him and I got behind him,” Solomon said.

“It’s great that we won tonight,” said Garland. “But we can’t be satisfied. We need to keep working hard — and stay determined.”

Contact Allan Mandell at or 254-501-7566​ and read his blog on

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