By Josh Brown
TROY — Troy’s Joe Pascale knew going in that he would just be a spectator on Senior Night.
“It’s just bad luck,” Troy’s 126-pound wrestler said. “They didn’t have a guy at my weight or the weight below. But there’s nothing I could do about it — we knew coming in that I probably wasn’t going to have a match.”
After Pascale collected a forfeit, though, the Troy wrestling team struggled the rest of Tuesday’s Senior Night dual against visiting Northmont, only scoring two wins out of the nine matches wrestled on the night, falling 46-18 to the Thunderbolts at Troy High School.
Troy honored its four seniors — Pascale, Dakota Hamman (182), Kameron Block (220) and Jake Browning (285) — before the dual, which kicked off with Browning’s heavyweight match and ended with Block. And while the trio struggled on the mat against a tough Northmont team, Troy coach Doug Curnes didn’t hold back when it came time to praise his veteran leaders.
“Every year, I say I love my seniors, but I love them,” Curnes said. “Browning’s been with us for years now, and he’s finally getting a chance to wrestle varsity. And Kameron, this is just his second year, and he’s jumping into the spotlight immediately. And Dakota, he’s been with me every step of the way and continues to do everything that’s asked of him. He knows he’s never going to be that dominant kid, but he knows it makes him better, so he sticks it out. And then there’s Joe, who’s just an animal that goes and goes and goes and is very highly motivated.
“They run the gamut, from a high level of wrestling to a high level in the classroom to high level skills outside of school, and all four are going to be successful, no matter what they do. I enjoy working with those kids very, very much.”
Pascale did have a match against Northmont last season, but that opponent is wrestling at 132 now, where the Bolts picked up a forfeit Tuesday night. But with Pascale missing the postseason the past two years with injuries, it was a smart call.
“The guy that scored a forfeit for them at 132 was the guy Joe lost to twice last year,” Curnes said. “We could’ve bumped, but there’s no sense. I talked to Joe about it, and we didn’t see the need. That kid is going to stay at 132, and we’re going to be at 126. It’s just a match we didn’t need to risk. If we shoot on him and hurt him or if he shoots on us and hurts us, what good was it?”
And with the Greater Western Ohio Conference tournament and then the postseason rapidly approaching, Pascale is already prepared.
“I’m feeling great,” Pascale said. “I’m really excited. I feel like I’m peaking at the right time, and coach is making sure we’re as healthy as we can be.”
After Browning was pinned in the second round by Northmont’s Seth Frantz and Mitchell Francis (113) dropped an 8-4 decision to Noah Wilkes, Pascale’s forfeit got the Trojans as close as they would get on the night, trailing 9-6. A forfeit put the Bolts back up 15-6, but Frankie Quintero (138) scored a pin with 55 seconds remaining in the first period over James Wilson to close the gap to three again at 15-12.
But Northmont scored another forfeit at 145 and then back-to-back pins at 152 and 160 to go up 33-12 before Shane Shoop (170) scored the Trojans’ last win of the night, pinning Fouad Saleh with in 1:34 to make the score 33-18.
At 182, Hamman scored a reversal in the first period to tie the score against Phil Tracey at 2-2, but he fell behind 4-2 after one and couldn’t recover in an 11-2 major decision. And after Northmont picked up a 10-3 decision at 195 to go up 40-18, Block finished the night by taking on Brian Heyward. Heyward was able to score a takedown late in the first period to go up 2-0, took a 7-0 lead after two and scored a pin late in the third period to make the final 46-18.
“We’re not a dual team,” Curnes said. “I’ve stayed away from them and tried to set up as many tournaments as possible. Because when you’re giving up forfeits … you don’t want to set up a bunch of duals when you’re a tournament team. But the kids still fought. The fight was there. Northmont’s not the Northmont of old, either. If we won a couple of those matches, the score would’ve been a lot closer than it was.”
Troy will compete in the GWOC tournament Feb. 9 and 10 at Fairmont.
Contact Josh Brown at (937) 552-2132, or follow @TroyDailySports on Twitter.