Not having a 215-pounder — Nathan Russell and Joe Hawkins are both sidelined — was costly for the Golden Tide, as Gator coach moved sophomore Dylan Major (24-9 at 189) up to claim the forfeit rather than send him against Nick Sipes in what would have been the meet\’s final bout. Crossface Wrestling ranks Sipes No. 2 and Major No. 4 at 189.
Heavyweight Nick Caldwell (7-7) quickly got Curwensville even by coming off the bottom to pin Brad Lannager with a double arm bar 50 seconds into the second period. Then, bantam Derek Brothers (22-4) took down Cameron Snodgrass and notched a fall at 1:57 with a power wing stack and 112-pounder Tyler Peters (16-14) major decisioned Todd Mealy (20-17) 11-1 to give the Golden Tide a 16-9 lead.
Peters led 7-1 late in the middle period when he was called for an illegal slam. Mealy used up most of his injury time before continuing. In the third period, the Gator elected to start in the neutral position and Peters hit an ankle pick for his second takedown to secure the bonus point and added a two-point near fall with a tilt.
\”We really started off great and got some big wins,\” Wriglesworth said. \”Caldwell went out and did a heck of a job. That was a fall I did not expect.\”
Port Allegany swept the next three bouts to regain the lead at 18-16, as standouts Shane Martin (29-11) at 119 and Nick Nichols (32-2) at 130 sandwiched decisions around Justin Lewis\’ forfeit win at 125.
Martin, a senior, executed pairs of takedowns and reversals for an 8-5 victory over freshman Brett Sutika (15-9), who fought off the Gator senior\’s cradle series most of the match and then finished strong with an escape and takedown in the last 30 seconds.
Nichols, a junior, moved up a weight and controlled his match with Jeff Thomas (15-11) in building a 6-0 edge before the Golden Tide soph reversed with 16 seconds left.
\”Brett was up against a very, very tough opponent, and he kept it close,\” Wriglesworth said. \”We thought they would move up Nichols. Jeff has been teched by this kid before, but he kept it close. We were really working at conserving points the whole way up through.\”
The lead changed hands again in the next two bouts as Curwensville junior 135-pounder Justin Johnston worked a takedown and near fall in the last seven seconds of the second period to top Gary Leschner 4-1 and Port Allegany freshman 140-pounder Adam Greenman (20-15) countered by turning Duane Wriglesworth III five times for a 15-0 technical fall in 3:59.
\”The fact that Johnston stepped up was really big for us, and a confidence booster for him,\” Duane Wriglesworth II said. \”He\’s right in the middle of the lineup where he ends up with one stud after another.\”
At 145, the Golden Tide\’s Brett McCracken (17-7) nipped Jeff Jones (27-9) 2-1 on a reversal with 1:13 left, trimming the Gators\’ lead to 23-22.
\”Brett had a great match against one of their top wrestlers,\” Wriglesworth said.
In a pivotal bout at 152, Curwensville\’s Matt Holland dominated Rick Fry for four minutes, taking him down three times for a 6-2 advantage. However, Fry chose the top position in the third period and tilted Holland five times for three-point near falls to pull out a 17-6 major decision.
Jarrett Sloppy (13-9) got the Golden Tide to within one point again, 27-26, by shutting out Zig Reichenbach 8-0 on a pair of takedowns, a reversal and a near fall. However, he had difficulty turning the lanky Gator, and that would prove crucial, too.
A stunning end to the 171 bout doomed Curwensville. Trailing 3-1, Golden Tide soph was trying to keep Chad Saltsman (25-12) in bounds as he worked for a takedown when the Gators\’ regular 160-pounder pushed into him and clamped on a headlock for a fall at 3:23.
That made it 33-26 and sealed the victory for the Gators with one bout left.
\”We could have pulled it out at the end,\” Wriglesworth said. \”Matt just couldn\’t get out of that tilt. I thought Sloppy would get a pin and Hoover would not get pinned. Hoover got caught there. He just got his hips too far underneath on a pancake and got taken right to his back.
All Sipes (21-2) could do was make it close with pin, which he engineered in 59 seconds against Nate Brookens. Sipes had replaced older brother Nate atop Curwensville\’s all-time win list with No. 111 earlier in the week.
\”We came up here for the learning experience,\” Wriglesworth said. \”Our kids are going to take away from this something they didn’t have before. They need to realize what every point means. They need to see that their match does count all the way up through. We haven’t had many close matches like this this year, and that was a heart-breaker for them.\”
The Golden Tide (5-4) has short road trips against two old rivals this week, Moshannon Valley on Tuesday and Clearfield on Thursday.