By Dan Gilles
Lutheran West couldn’t pull off a sweep Thursday night at a Patriot Athletic Conference quad at Columbia High School, beating the host Raiders, 54-27, but losing to Keystone, 44-30.
However, what Longhorns coach Dave Ressler was pleased about was the fact that his team improved to 2-0 in the Stripes Division with three more opponents left to see.
“Two down in the Stripes and three more to go to win a conference title,” Ressler said. “That Columbia match was huge for us, because we didn’t know what to expect going into it.
“It would have been nice to sweep both, but we know we’ve put ourselves in a great position to win our division, and we just cleared one of the toughest obstacles in that regard.”
Beginning at 160, Lutheran West spotted Columbia (0-4) a 15-12 lead through five weight classes. However, the Longhorns reeled off five consecutive victories – three by pin, two by forfeit – for 30 unanswered points, swinging the match to an insurmountable 42-15 lead with four weight classes to go.
“Everything just kind of played into our hands (against Columbia),” Ressler said. “We moved some guys around. We knew where their best kids are. Columbia’s a great team with five seniors who are just studs.
“We moved away from (Brandon) Heidinger to give our 182-pounder (Gabriel Petkac) a shot at 195, and he comes in with the stick. My regular 106-pounder doesn’t make weight, so my 90-pounder (Jacob Ressler) comes in and gets the stick. Just some huge wins for us as a team in that one.”
Ressler said the biggest match was the opener at 160. C.J. McNamee avoided a major decision loss to Columbia’s Roman Waked, who got a 10-3 win. Avoiding the major gave Columbia a 3-0 lead instead of a 4-0 lead, and Ressler believes that was a turning point.
“I bump my 152 to 160, and he only gives up a decision against one of their best kids,” he said. “I think we kind of broke them from there.”
After forfeiting to Heidinger, Petkac pinned Ozzie Gossick in 2:55 to give the Longhorns a 12-9 lead. The two teams traded forfeits at 220 and 285, keeping the Longhorns ahead, 18-15, heading into the lightweights.
Ressler pinned Nathan Hirsch in 1:46, and Bryce Deblock followed with a pin in 56 seconds over Jacob Wall at 112, increasing Lutheran West’s lead to 30-15. That went up to 42-15 with a forfeit victory from Justin Watson and a pinfall in 35 seconds from Ryan Rusnak at 126.
“We got those two big pins at 106 and 113, and after the forfeit at 120, (Columbia’s) momentum was gone,” Ressler said. “It was huge win for us, because they’re a really tough team and we were thankful to get out of here with that victory.”
Chance Huey (145) gave Lutheran West one more win, via pinfall, to make it a final score against the Raiders, setting up the nightcap against Keystone. The Wildcats defeated Brookside, 48-31.
Keystone jumped out to leads of 10-0 and 16-6 through the first six weight classes (195 was a double forfeit, which resulted in no points for either team). However, the Longhorns started to battle back.
Ressler earned his second pin of the night to cut the deficit to 16-12, and a forfeit win by Tim Mecklenburg at 113 made it an 18-16 advantage.
However, Keystone countered with a pair of brothers – the Stiners and the Spanglers – from 120 through 138, and all four earned pinfall victories to swing the match back to the Wildcats’ favor. Jeremy King (145) added a 19-5 major decision over Gevin Maxwell for good measure, bumping Keystone’s lead to 44-18.
McNamee (152) and Ryan Moore (160) capped the dual with pins to make the final score a little bit more respectable.
“You’ve got the two Stiner brothers and the two Spangler brothers, and they’re great,” Ressler said. “We’ve seen them for years. One of our better kids (Bryce Deblock at 120) was there, too, but our guys aren’t state caliber yet. Those four are certainly state caliber.
“That was tough for us, but our guys battled hard. We scored 30 points against probably the best team in the Stars Division. So, we’re happy about that.”
The Longhorns are now 9-2 in dual meets overall.
Brookside defeated Columbia in the other dual, 45-33.