By Josh Brown
TROY — Last week’s GMVWA Holiday Tournament. This weekend’s upcoming Troy Invitational and Milton-Union Bulldog Invitational. Wrestling season is packed with big, busy tournaments meant to prepare wrestlers for the biggest tournaments at year’s end.
At its heart, though, wrestling is still a head-to-head sport. And Wednesday night, Troy and Tippecanoe got to the heart of things.
Old rivals and new Greater Western Ohio Conference American North Division foes, the Trojans and Red Devils faced off in a dual Wednesday at Troy High School, with Troy capitalizing on bonus points from a series of pins and four forfeits to claim a 54-24 victory.
“We talked before the match — with the state going to the half-point rule (in scheduling), there’s going to be a lot more single duals,” Troy coach Doug Curnes said. “There will be days where we try to beef it up, publicize it and get the stands packed. We’re going to look in the future to maybe doubling up with the junior high and having two mats going, just to get more awareness to the sport. This was a good night for us.”
“We did. We were talking about that before weigh-ins,” Tippecanoe coach Nick Petro said. “Having the opportunity to start building this rivalry that we used to have, you know, 20 years ago with Troy. We could remember when the Troy-Tipp dual was huge, it would sell out. And that’s kind of been the mentality of the GWOC coaches in our area — we need to start building those rivalries. Having these individual duals and getting the fans back out and interested in wrestling will only increase participation in our sport and hypes up the sport real well.”
And the fans present Wednesday got to see a number of thrilling finishes, including four pins in the final 30 seconds of a round — one with one second on the clock and even one with no time left.
The night began with Troy’s Jake Browning (285) and Brandon Lewis (106) picking up forfeits, staking the Trojans out to an early lead. Tippecanoe’s Blake Ballard (113) bounced back after an early takedown by Troy’s Joe Daffner, taking a 3-2 lead by the end of the first period and then sticking a pin with 21 seconds left in the second to cut the Trojans’ lead in half.
Troy followed that with a run of four consecutive pins, though, which, coupled with the two forfeits that would come later at 182 and 190, put the match out of reach.
Joe Pascale (120) began the run, pinning Cameron Abrams with 51 seconds left in the first. Then Carson DeHart (126) took a 4-0 lead over Austyn Bruno after one period and pinned him with 1:34 left in the second. Carlos Quintero (132) was able to turn Lewis Abrams late in the first period and pin him with only 12 seconds left to give Troy a 30-6 lead, then Nick Mittelstadt (138) battled back and forth with Vincent Shouffer, taking a 6-3 lead late in the first period. Mittelstadt got his opponent to his back in the final five seconds, sticking the pin with one second left on the clock to put the Trojans up 36-6.
“We did a lot of good things,” Curnes said. “The biggest surprise of the night was Nick Mittelstadt at 138. A sophomore, first-year kid in his first varsity match, comes out, throws a cradle and sticks a kid. He was doing exactly what he was coached to do, and it worked out in his favor. It was awesome.
“There was a lot of scoring late in periods. We coach these guys to wrestle all the way through until you hear the whistle. Never relax at the edge of the mat, never relax until the period is over, because a lot can happen in three seconds. For the fans, it was fun — they got to see that a lot tonight. It only takes that split second to relax, and it’s over.”
Caleb Blake (145) ended the run, taking the lead early and pinning David McGraw with 38 seconds left in the first. Troy’s Justin Mittelstadt (152) won a 6-3 decision over Lucas Moore — the first match of the night not decided by pinfall — and Frankie Hoening (160) won a 10-5 decision over Brandon Singleton to make Troy’s lead 42-12.
Troy’s Dakota Hamman (170) held a 5-2 lead and was trying to turn his opponent late in the first, but Tippecanoe’s Cory Hart reversed his weight and caught Hamman for a pin with no time left on the clock. After Davin Snyder (182) and Will Brumfield (190) picked up forfeits for Troy, Tippecanoe’s Grant Carlson (220) finished off the night by pinning Christian Nation with 44 seconds left in the first period.
“It was a solid night for us still,” Petro said. “We have a very, very young team. We’re extremely passionate, they come to practice every day wanting to get better and we’re finally starting to see results. They’re making so many improvements. We’ve just got to keep working until February — that’s what we’re working for. I’d rather they make mistakes now than make them in February. We’re a lot better than we were at the beginning of the year, and that’s what I like to see.”
Both teams will be back in action on Saturday, with the Trojans hosting the Troy Invitational and Tippecanoe heading to Milton-Union for the Bulldog Invitational.
Contact Josh Brown at (937) 552-2132, or follow @TroyDailySports on Twitter.