By Ryan Kaczmarski
“With these kind of matches, you have in your head which matches you need (to win),” said Pirates head coach Eric Tuokkola. “You know there are going to be close matches that you need to win to pull out a match like this.
“I knew we had a shot at beating them,” he added. “There were certain matches that I knew had to go our way. We had a couple of those matches at hand, but we let them slip away.”
North Ridgeville went up big in the early part of the meet with Rangers’ Bobby Vedda defeating David Gadelsayed (120) with a 16-0 technical fall. Next was the Rangers’ Mark Carosella’s 9-0 major decision over River’s Austin Suarez (126), to put North Ridgeville up 9-0.
The Pirates came back with a pin by Travis Smith over Nathan Dorton (132) with 47.5 seconds left in the third period to make the team score 9-6.
The Rangers followed with three pins in a row. The first was Nick Asp over Seamus Kilbane (138) with 11.9 seconds left in the match, the second was Tommy Wendling, after being down 15-8, over Jimi Smith (145) with 19.5 seconds left in the match, and the third was Colin Riley over Dominic Campanalie (152) with 36.7 seconds left in the match.
“At 145 and 152, I knew we needed those matches to keep it close, because they (Ridgeville) have some real studs at the bottom of their line-up” Tuokkola said. “It’s all about the match-ups. There are some that you have to win, and we didn’t win any of those.”
The Pirates did mount a comeback with four victories in a row to get them within three points 27-24. Brennan Koklauner defeated Kelton Greenwood (160) 7-3, Patrick Gallagher pinned Phil Hicks (170) with 50.3 seconds left in the match, Enli Hanzai defeated Mike Esler (182) 13-6 and Bill Kelly pinned Josh Tomko (195) with 0.7 seconds left in the match.
“It was nice to see some of those kids come back (and win),” Tuokkola said. “Those are kids where we have experience and they (the Rangers) don’t.”
The Rangers ended the night with four victories. Matt Dawson pinned Jesse Singler (220) with 19.2 seconds left in the second period, Nick Bailey (HVY) won by forfeit, Drew Dickson beat Bradley Sprau (106) by technical fall and Evan Collier pinned Daniel Mahoney (113) with 1:17 left in the second period.
The Pirates are a young team with a lot of upside in their future. Right now they are built to win duals meets, as opposed to tournaments.
“With invitationals, we’ve been getting a lot better,” Tuokkola said. “At the beginning of the season, we were struggling at the tournaments because we have a lot of young kids wrestling, but as they get more experience, they are getting better.
“Tonight was a little bit of a step backwards,” he added. “We’ve been wrestling better than this, but overall I am still pleased with the way the team is progressing.”
The Pirates will finish off the WSC schedule tomorrow night at home against Elyria Catholic.