It wasn’t a dual victory, but it was a step forward for the Hays High wrestling team.

The short-handed Indians fell 48-27 to Liberal in Thursday’s Western Athletic Conference dual opener at Hays High, but HHS coach Heath Meder saw plenty of bright spots.

“You’re never proud of a loss, but I was proud of how they wrestled,” Meder said.

A highlight for the Indians was state-ranked Gavin Nutting’s 5-2 decision over Jaime Arenivas. The match was locked at 2 in the third period before Nutting used an escape and a late takedown to seal it.

“Gavin, he’s a battler,” Meder said. “He’s a warrior out there.”

Hays High’s Cyrus Vajnar (113 pounds), Jake Taliaferro (138) and Davontai Robinson (182) all pinned their opponents.

“The first WAC dual so far of the season, coming off of the break and getting back into the swing of things, I think we wrestled well,” Meder said.

Meder saw other solid performances in defeat.

“A good thing about this dual is even the matches we lost we were battling and in it,” he said. “Some of the fill-ins that we had tonight, they went out and saw some of their first varsity action of the season and they didn’t back down.

“If you can have a good loss, I’ll take those when you come out and battle and give it everything.”

The Indians still have a handful of wrestlers sidelined by injuries, with some expected to return to the lineup before the end of the season, Meder said.

On the girls’ side, freshmen Sarah Zimmerman and Halle Lohmeyer were victorious in their matches for the Indians.

Zimmerman, who is ranked at 109 pounds, took a 15-0 major decision over Mana Chanthasone.

“I would have liked to pin her, but I was pretty happy with how I wrestled,” Zimmerman said.

Lohmeyer earned a quick pin against Jasmine Hoffman in her match at 143 pounds.

“I was pretty nervous going into it because I’ve been in a pretty big slump lately,” Lohmeyer said. “When I went against her, it was back and forth the whole time. When I pinned her, I was really happy. It was a learning experience; I got to get in some new moves and everything, so that was fun.”

The Indians were set to take part in a tournament at Topeka-Seaman on Saturday, but it was canceled due to the weather.