Chase Gallik faced an unenviable task during Wallenpaupack Area's Lackawanna League opener at Honesdale.
One of the top-ranked wrestlers in the state, Gallik was forced to put friendship aside for six minutes and focus on his assignment.
On this particular night, that assignment was taking on Ben Rutledge before a big, raucous Hornet crowd.
"Ben is a good wrestler and we've been training together for a long time with the Vipers," Chase said of his off-season freestyle teammate.
"I just wanted to stay calm before I went out there because I knew he'd be tough. I've been working really hard getting ready for this season and I'm going to take it to everybody."
Gallik did exactly that, dominating his bout en route to a 15-0 tech fall.
As it turned out, Chase's big win was just one of many as the Buckhorns rampaged to a 54-19 win.
"If our team stays healthy and we all get down to the weights we need to be at, then the sky's the limit," said Gallik.
Just about 12 months ago to the day, Rutledge had sprinted to this same mat with a gleam of anticipation in his eye.
Ben was on the cusp of a breakout year and champing at the bit to get started.
Sadly, fate intervened on that dark night. Rutledge suffered a torn ACL and was lost for the season.
A year later ... after a long and grueling re-hab ... Ben was back on that same mat for a battle with Chase at 138 lbs.
Perhaps predictably, Gallik dominated this first meeting. However, the two friends shook hands afterward and returned to their respective sidelines no worse for wear.
Page 2 of 3 - "Ben Rutledge is a great kid," said Paupack Coach Steve Krushnowski. "He lost a whole year to injury, so it'll be a while before he's 100 percent again.
"Ben and Chase are good friends, but all that stuff goes out the window when you're on the mat. When Chase is out there, we're looking for bonus points.
"We want a tech fall or a fall from him every single match and tonight was absolutely no different."
Paupack and Honesdale traded points back and forth through the early stages of this Division One battle.
Ryan Tarantino (132) and Chad Sives each delivered team points, setting the stage for a late-match run nearly everyone in the gym was anticipating.
"They're loaded in the upper weight classes," said Hornets head coach Ryan Chulada. "Everyone knows it. You just have to try and build a lead before you get to their Murderers' Row."
Sadly for the hometown fans, the best Honesdale could do was hang close to Paupack on this night ... and, that wasn't nearly good enough once the match reached 170 pounds.
Todd Frick ignited what would snowball into a 36-0 run with a pin of Josh Burkavage.
Jared Wehrmann followed with a clamp of his own, needing just 1:04 to dispose of Taylor Porter at 182.
Jake Haupt was next up and Paupack's 195-pounder made it three straight with a pin of Brett Dailey (3:15).
Kyle Hartmann sealed the deal on a team triumph by recording a fall over Justin McMillan at 220 (1:09).
After Kenny Roman accepted a forfeit at 285, Zach Krial closed things out with a pin at 106 (4:42).
Over & Out.
Page 3 of 3 - Even though Paupack posted a lopsided win over its archrival on enemy soil, Coach Krushnowski was far from satisfied.
"Sure, I'm happy with the win," he said afterward. "But, at the same time we have to get so much better than we showed tonight."
"If we want to challenge the Delaware Valleys of the world, we really have to work hard and step up our game. Nobody in this league is going to lie down for us. We'll have to earn every single win ... and, that's the way it should be."