MENDOTA — The newly-formed Putnam County-Hall wrestling co-op came into Wednesday’s quadrangular meet at Mendota with one mission: prove its hard work is paying off.
The Panthers finished their mission in a fashion the CIA could be jealous of as they went 3-0 as they beat St. Bede 34-30, Mendota 54-24 and Midland 48-24.
In doing so, four PC-H wrestlers went undefeated as Dylan Crossiant, Tyrell Foockle, Mike Milasuski and Austin Pletsch all went 3-0.
“It feels great to win for the whole team, definitely after coming back from our injuries,” said the 138-pound Crossiant, who recorded two pin falls and a forfeit win.
“I fractured my spine, tore my rotator cuff and severed my PCL in my knee,” he added. “We worked all summer to get back to where we’re at. It just feels great when we push each other so we can win like tonight.”
Crossiant — who came back to the mat after a dirt bike accident last year — isn’t the only member of the team who was worried about what he could do on the mat after suffering a serious injury.
Foockle broke his leg in an accident this summer and spent the beginning of the school year working with trainers to rehab and rebuild strength.
In his first matches of the season, the 160-pound Foockle scored three falls on Wednesday.
None of his matches lasted longer than 1 minute, 38 seconds, including a 15-second pin against Mendota’s Ethan Ward.
“I broke my leg this summer so I’ve been training hard to get back from that,” the senior said. “This is my first mat meet I’ve wrestled at, so going 3-0 is really good and I’m glad to represent my team in my last year.”
The Panthers’ plot to show they’re prepared for tough competition started with a dual against the Bruins, which proved to be the decisive match in determining the quad winner.
St. Bede started and ended the meet with six-point matches because of forfeits at 120 and 295.
In between, the action was fast and furious.
After the first eight matches, the Bruins had a 21-10 lead after 120-pounder Matt Szczepaniak won by forfeit, 132-pounder James Peacock pinned Kurt Nobers in 12 seconds, 145-pounder Adam Hunter pinned Joe Boggio at 3:52 and Nick Puhr won by decision over Jacob Levy at 152.
Then Panthers’ coach Jerry Kreiwald brought in the cavalry.
“We not only had to overcome the forfeit points, but we had to outwrestle them in the long run. They did more than I expected,” Kreiwald said. “I think they proved to themselves the hard work they’ve been doing is paying off and yes, I think it feels good to come into a gym like this and leave 3-0 and have four wrestlers go undefeated.”
Foockle started the Panthers’ surge with a fall in 1:38 over Ryan Kelsey at 160 pounds. Milasuski and Pletsch followed the Foockle’s lead with pins of their own in 2:14 and 1:49 for three straight PC-Hall pins to take a 28-21 lead.
Brendan Zimmerman scored three points for the Bruins on a decision over Nathan Tonozzi to get within 28-24, but Aaron Kehr’s pin over Joel Caulfield in 4:50 put the dual away with a 34-24 10-point lead.
The six points awarded to SBA’s 285-pounder John Barnes for a forfeit cut the lead but were not enough to take the match.
“We wrestled hard,” Bruins coach Sean Hobson said. “I would have liked to have gone 3-0, but it wasn’t in the cards for the day. I think all my kids wrestled hard, but with that being said, we still haven’t peaked yet. We usually wrestle our best around regionals. We’ve had 13 sectional qualifiers in six years and that’s not an accident.”
PC-H then rolled over Midland 48-24 and scored the highest team score of the meet with a 54-24 victory over Mendota.
St. Bede did the same with a 48-27 triumph over the Trojans and a 48-24 win against Midland.
Mendota played a wonderful host for the quad but didn’t fare well on the mat as the purple and gold went 0-3.
“Going 0-3, we knew this was going to be a rebuilding year,” MHS coach Dale Meyers said. “We’ve only got a few guys, so we’re going to lose anyway because of forfeits. We’re doing pretty well individually. We still have a few guys with some work to do, but generally, I’m pleased for where we’re at. I feel a lot better than I did at the first of the year.”
One reason Meyers feels better now is Trevor Todd. The junior ripped through his opponents in the 220-weight class pinning PC-Hall’s Kehr in just 29 seconds and SBA’s Caulfield in 22 seconds.
“He’s been spectacular,” Meyers said. “He’s 12-2, he’s a strong kid who is starting to think and use his head instead of walking out there and doing strike moves, although, that first hip toss, he even knew he did it wrong. He came back and apologized to me for doing it wrong. He’s very athletic and plays inside linebacker for our football team so he has really good footwork he can use. You saw how well he jumped over the top of (Kehr) when he shot him.”
Brandon LaChance can be reached at 220-6939, or at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @NT_LaChance.