In the final match of the night and the final home match of Josh Larson’s high school wrestling career, the Columbus North senior wasn’t about to go down without a fight.
Despite his team trailing 54-8 to a perennial power Franklin team, Larson came through with pin of Nick Petrole in 1 minute, 53 seconds at 195 pounds to make the final score 54-14.
“Larson had a great match,” North coach Justin Cooper said. “I expected him to pin, and he did. He had a lot of fans here coming to watch him, so that was exciting.”
Larson’s pin stopped a string of eight consecutive wins for the Grizzly Cubs that had taken the score from 15-8 to 54-8. The first four of those were forfeits by the Bull Dogs.
The pin came immediately after North’s Brigham Kleinhenz dropped an 8-6 overtime decision to Jake Moore.
“After Brigham took a tough loss like that, it felt good to avenge him,” Larson said. “I gave up a takedown, probably because of the emotion, but I knew I could do it. I wasn’t worried.”
The senior night match began at 220 with Franklin’s Manny Cheam pinning Bradley Gutierrez in 2:23. The Grizzly Cubs picked up a forfeit at 285 and a 7-2 decision from Drew Hargis against Morgan Smith at 106 to take a quick 15-0 lead.
North then scored a pair of major decisions to get on the board. Keandre Watson beat Tanner Vandeman 15-1 at 113, and Nick Miller downed Isaac York 14-4 at 120.
Following the forfeits at 126, 132, 138 and 145, the Bull Dogs’ other senior, Will Russell, lost a 6-2 decision to Roger Soots at 152. Franklin’s Mat Ahlfeld then pulled out a 5-3 decision against Nick Holt at 160, and top-ranked Burk VanHorn pinned North’s Andrew Chapman in 11 seconds at 170, setting up the Kleinhenz-Moore and Larson-Petrole matches.
“Columbus North, the guys they have are pretty good,” Franklin coach Bob Hasseman said. “The Kleinhenz kid is good. The 195 (Larson) was good. The 170 (Chapman) was good. We had a big win at 106. I thought their 106 (Smith) was pretty good.”
The Bull Dogs now have a bit of a break before the Jan. 28 Jennings County Sectional.
“We left two or three matches out there that we should have won,” Cooper said. “We’re improving. We still have things we need to work on, but we always will.”