On Wednesday, Dec. 14 at the Dungeon at West Holmes High School, Dover exacted a bit of revenge in a match everyone felt would be just another tight contest in a rivalry that has been rife with them as of late.
The match went back and forth to the final contest of the 14-match evening before Dover pulled out an exciting 36-33 victory.
“We are really happy to come in here and get a win against a really good West Holmes program,” Dover coach Aaron Martell said. “Our seniors came out and really did a good job in leading the way tonight. We knew coming in this would be a battle because West Holmes is one of the area’s elite programs and they are always so well coached. Any time you come in here and get a win, there is a lot of value in that.”
On this night every single match and how it played out would factor into the outcome of the tight battle.
The night started at 126 pounds, where Dover’s Chandler Bleininger got the Tornadoes on top with a 14-3 major decision over West Holmes’ Walker Uhl. The Knights responded with Colton Bowling getting a fall win over Brandon Sommers. Dover’s Ethan Ertz then pounded Jack Snow 12-1 to give the Tornadoes a slight edge. Mitch Woodhall then had West Holmes’ Cruz Alexander all but pinned, but the Knights grappler never gave up and fought his way out of the hold to keep the match alive. While Woodhall did earn the 4-2 win, Alexander had earned points for his team by avoiding the pin.
When Cody Woods pinned Dover’s Ryan McKinney in the 152-pound match, West Holmes had taken a 12-11 lead, and so it would go all night long as these two teams battled for victory.
At 160 pounds Dover’s Kaden Chamberlain battled his way to a fall win over Ryan O’Donnell to get Dover the lead. When Jack Murphy pinned Skyler Cline, the Tornadoes held the night’s biggest lead at 23-12.
That was about to change. At 182, Josh Baldridge got the Knights back in it with a 7-2 win over Dayton Robin, and Knights’ senior Alex Walker took care of Mason Contini with a pin win to trim Dover’s lead to 23-21. Riley Warner defeated Jake Mullet 14-6, and Dover’s big man Mason Furbay recorded a win by fall over Logan Miller. At the top of the lineup West Holmes’ 106-pound freshman Cael Woods earned a win by fall over Miguel Itzep Santiago, and West Holmes won the 113-pound class by forfeit, giving the Knights a 33-32 lead heading into the final match.
That deciding match pitted Dover’s two-time state qualifier Gannon Petrullo against Thane Kaufman, the Knights’ returning state qualifier and winner of two tournaments this year already. The big difference in this one is that head coach Jeff Woods opted to move Kaufman up a class from the usual 113-pound weight he has wrestled at this year.
Petrullo showed exactly why he is a two-time state qualifier, repeatedly taking down Kaufman and then kicking him loose. In command the whole way, Petrullo earned the four points to produce the Tornadoes’ win.
“We had Thane at the end, and we had it on the books that as long as he wrestled that match and didn’t get teched or pinned, we were going to win,” coach Woods said. “What we didn’t plan on was that we would have to take a couple of pin losses when we were out there swinging for the fences when we just wanted to stay in the match.”
Woods said he was really pleased with the effort he got from Bowling on the night, calling his win a big pick-me-up for his wrestler. He also noted that Walker’s winning effort was a perfect example of how good his senior can be when he wants to be.
“Last year this was his biggest night of the year when he stepped up and helped us beat Dover,” Woods said. “He came with that same intensity again tonight. He did what he had to do.”
Woods said playing small ball means that even in a loss wrestlers can make a difference simply by staying in a match as Alexander and Snow both did. He noted that those kinds of efforts can oftentimes make the difference between winning and losing.
Woods said they knew coming in that Dover would be a handful. The Tornadoes are now a perfect 6-0 on the year, and while the Knights dropped the match, it was a good learning experience for Woods’ crew.
As for freshman Cael Woods, coach Woods said the jump from middle school wrestling to the varsity scene is not a huge one when the commitment is there.
“It doesn’t take you long to adjust when you wrestle year around,” Woods said. “Knowledge-wise, Cael probably came in her as a junior. He understands what he needs to do.”
As for Baldridge, who has wrestled extremely well since coming back after a year’s absence, Woods loves the fight he has shown and his willingness to just go out there and brawl.
“I like that fight. I’ll take that any day,” Woods said of Baldridge.
As for Dover, it left the Dungeon feeling very good about the way things panned out, considering they were minus one of their star wrestlers in Jack Murphy, who is battling an injury.
“We are extremely proud of the kids’ effort tonight, and we will enjoy it and celebrate it, but tomorrow it is right back to work,” Martell said. “We’ve got to clean up some things, some mistakes we made tonight. We have to stop giving up some bonus points that we gave up, but I liked the effort and intensity tonight.”
He praised Petrullo for stepping up, not just on this night, but this whole season. He said his senior is doing everything a coach could ask of a senior leader.
“Gannon has been so strong all season, and we felt really good about the draw and having him wrestle in that clean-up spot because we knew it would be tight,” Martell said. “Kaufman is a heck of a competitor, and he is a state qualifier himself, so we knew that would be a hotly contested match. But Gannon has been on his game all season, and we like his physicality. He also really chain wrestles well, going from shot to shot and staying aggressive. He has definitely put the work in.”
As for their quick start out of the gate, Martell said they have been pleasantly surprised, especially since they have competed and beaten some quality programs like Revere, Waynedale and West Holmes.
“I think we have been pleasantly surprised because we still don’t feel we are anywhere near where we need to be,” Martell said. “We are very happy with how the kids are working and that we have had our seniors step up and lead. It’s been a good start.”
Published: December 16, 2016