By BOB ETTINGER
For the Star Beacon
To win a dual match, it takes a balanced lineup and individuals who understand the importance of picking up teammates who have lost in order to keep the opponent from getting on a roll. After all, winning is contagious.
Lakeside fell on both sides of the line in a double-dual match at Falcon Gymnasium on Thursday night.
In the opener, the Dragons fell behind, but closed with 5-straight pins to topple Jefferson, 53-29, while Austintown Fitch took no prisoners in a 78-0 thrashing of Cardinal.
“Honestly, from a team standpoint, we’re not worried about the scoreboard,” Lakeside coach Jerry Brady said. “It’s not about whether or not you go down, but, if you do go down, how you go down. You saw what happened. Some of our guys backed down.”
In the second round of matches, Jefferson took it to Cardinal, 59-22, and Fitch dropped Lakeside, 54-15.
“(Dual-match wrestling) is something we’ve been stressing to the guys,” Fitch coach Brett Powell said. “Two or three years ago, we weren’t very good. Now, the kids are definitely reaping a lot of benefits. We’re doing well in keeping with the team part of it and not worrying so much about the individual part.
“That’s shown up this season. It’s definitely been a group effort.”
After Zach Collins of Jefferson scored a pin at 160 pounds, the Falcons led, 29-23, with five matches to go.
Ja’Sean Hatfield then turned the tide for Lakeside with a pin in the middle of the second period at 170. Michael Coup followed with a pin at 182. Kyle Conel (195), Brandon Modic (220) and John McCormick (heavyweight) also followed with pins to give the Dragons the victory.
“They just hammered us in the upper weights,” Jefferson coach Tom Avsec said. “We were hanging with them until about 170. I thought, at 182, we would have a better match, but it didn’t work out that way.
“Two of our upper heavyweights have just started wrestling in recent weeks and they’re giving up a lot of weight and strength.”
“Kyle, Keith and Tyler are all wrestling very well right now,” Brady said. “We got a good match out of Coup. Asa is a tough kid.”
Jefferson actually got out to a strong start as Bryce Cox scored a technical fall over Michael DeCamillo at 106. The lead was short-lived, however, as Lakeside accepted forfeits at 113 and 120. Tyler Newsome’s pin of Austin Simmons at 126 had the Dragons in front, 18-5.
After Joey Baitt netted a pin for Jefferson at 132, Keith Griffin scored a technical fall at 138 for Lakeside and a 23-11 advantage.
Cooper Cleveland (145), Mason Swiney (152) and Collins came up with consecutive pins and the Falcons were in front, 29-23.
“That was a nice little run,” Avsec said. “Joey got a pin and we had pins at 145 and 152.”
Jefferson fell behind the Huskies, too, trailing 18-0 after three weight classes — two forfeits and a pin by Dakota Ward (126).
Baitt started a long line of victories with a technical fall at 132. Logan Platt (138) and Cleveland (145) accepted forfeits, Swiney (152) and Collins (160) had pins and Christian Saunders (170), Josh Hall (182), Austin Norris (220) and Brandon Hagerdon (heavyweight) all accepted forfeits for the Falcons 59 points.
“The guys just didn’t come to wrestle tonight,” Cardinal coach Jeff Zeigler said. “I think we were a bit intimidated and lackadaisical. A couple of my guys are injured or doing other things tonight. We didn’t put our best foot forward.”
Trent Mast ended on a high note for Cardinal with an 8-0 major decision over Cox at 106.
A pin and a major decision at 106 and 113, respectively, had Fitch in front, 10-0, to start against Lakeside.
Newsome (120) followed with an 8-1 decision over Adam Koslik, Asa Williams (126) won in a 10-7 decision over Dylan Green and Griffin tallied an 11-6 decision over Austin Stevens as Lakeside moved within a point of Fitch, 10-9.
It was all downhill from there.
“We’ve got six or seven guys out of the lineup,” Brady said. “We tried to get out of this match, but the Austintown AD pressured our AD because we’re trying to get into their conference. We have guys with busted legs, torn ACLs, a broken ankle.
“The ones who came with us battled hard. We’re looking to battle every time we step on the mat. Make no mistake, we took a (butt) whipping. It is what it is. I’m proud of the kids who wrestled.”
Fitch recorded pins from Dakota Migelets (138), Zach Mackall (145), Adam Green (152), Isaiah Jackson (160) and Tex Martin (182). Cameran Rezapouriann scored a technical fall at 170 and Fitch was in command, 45-9.
“They’d have probably hammered us to death (if we weren’t aggressive),” Powell said. “Those are some big, strong, physical guys. They’d have taken it to us. We had to go right out after them at the beginning
Conel momentarily stopped the bleeding with a pin at 195.
“(Conel) is probably one of the best athletes I’ve seen in the last three or four years,” Powell said. “He’s a good kid, too. I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s at the top of a podium in Columbus at the end of the year.”
Jacob Franks beat Modic, 7-2, at 220 and Ronald Shadd netted a pin at heavyweight to close out the night.
“The upper middle weights picked us up,” Powell said. “We have a balanced lineup. If one section struggles, like the lightweights did tonight, the others pick them up.”
Ettinger is a freelance writer from Ashtabula.