For the Star Beacon
A wrestler wins a match if his arm is the one raised at the conclusion of six minutes of hand-to-hand combat. A team wins when those wrestlers get six points in getting their arms raised.
Liberty did exactly that three times and coupled it with three forfeits to down Jefferson, 42-28, in All-American Conference action.
Maybe more important than getting those pins, the Leopards avoided being pinned themselves.
“The key to winning a dual is to not get pinned,” Liberty coach Hadi Hadi said. “That’s why we won. Jefferson’s a good team. It’s a shame they give up those forfeits. It was a hard fight.”
Liberty jumped out to a 30-0 advantage right out of the gate with pins from Cody Bucher at 220 pounds and Danaryll Greene at heavyweight.
“That was important,” Hadi said. “Getting 12 right off the rip from those guys gave us some nice momentum.”
The Leopards then accepted forfeits at 106, 113 and 120, which may have sealed the Falcons’ fate.
“(Getting pinned) killed us,” Jefferson coach Tom Avsec said. “If we don’t get pinned, we’ve got a pretty good chance.
“We have to stay off our back. I don’t know how many times we’ve practiced not getting pinned. We’ll keep working.”
Add into the mix that when the Falcons did win, they didn’t pin their foes enough. Getting just two in the match.
“We’re not good at pinning,” Avsec said. “We’re good on our feet. For some reason, we don’t do as well in the top position.”
Joey Baitt scored the first points for the Falcons, beating Robby Kurtz, 18-6, at 126. Dai’Quen Greene answered for Liberty, defeating Logan Platt, 5-2, at 132 before Ricker Maple scored a technical fall over Liberty’s Andrew Mathews at 138 and Jefferson trailed, 33-9.
Joe Babic cut the deficit by six to 33-15 with a first-period pin at 145.
Liberty answered again, this time Brandon Jefferson scored an 8-6 win over Will Gant at 152.
The Falcons (0-1) were without starter Troy Stitt (160) because of a neck injury, but freshman Zack Collins filled in well with a pin of Joey Leshnack in 2:30.
“That was his first varsity match. He did a great job. We had some bright spots.”
Rocky Tripodi followed with a 13-4 win at 170 and Blake Perry defeated Aaren Hilson, 2-0, at 182 as Jefferson closed to with eight, 36-28.
Patrick Sturgeon closed the match the way it opened — with a pin for Liberty at 195.
Despite winning six weight contested classes to Liberty’s five, the Falcons fell short.
“(Not getting pins) was big,” Avsec said. “In some matches, we were pretty dominant with tech falls and major (decisions). We still had a chance when we got to the upper weights.
“We had some guys who have never wrestled before and they were a little nervous. Rocky did a good job at 170. Their guy (Tyrell Jethrow) is a pretty good wrestler. Rocky made some nice moves in the first period.”
Not giving up six points for a pin when they got beat gave the Leopards the advantage.
“That’s huge,” Hadi said. “That’s our philosophy. We go out and fight. We fight some more. We may bleed, then we go back out and fight. We don’t get pinned.
“We won the league last year because we didn’t give up pins.”
Ettinger is a freelance writer from Ashtabula.