Columbus North had raced out to a 14-0 lead in its wrestling match Wednesday evening at rival Columbus East, and Olympians coach Chris Cooper knew his squad needed a spark.
So he sent his 126-pounder, Dalton Noblitt, to the mat with some simple instructions: Get a pin.
“Coach told me straight out that the kid was going to try not to get pinned,” Noblitt said. “It makes you a little more nervous.”
Although Noblitt looked a little sloppy early, he took care of business with a pin of North’s Braden Hinckley with only five seconds remaining in the second period.
Noblitt’s pin started a streak of seven consecutive wins for the Olympians, who claimed a 40-27 victory in the annual grudge match.
“(Hinckley) wouldn’t give me anything,” said Noblitt, who has a 25-5 record. “I was trying to force things, and that’s what makes you look bad.
“Coach told me to let him up and throw him, and that’s what I did.”
Although East secured the victory, Cooper was not satisfied.
“Man, it’s hard to be disappointed when you beat North,” Cooper said. “But we didn’t wrestle to the level we’re capable of doing. In the matches we lost, they were more physical than us. We didn’t match their toughness level.”
The Olympians didn’t seem to be celebrating too much after the match.
“We could have wrestled 10 times better,” Noblitt said. “But we’re all glad. In our eyes, this was our biggest match. We were hyped up.
“But it’s mid-week and we have the conference tournament coming up (on Saturday at Seymour), and we’re tired, trying to make weight.”
North coach Nick Skinner wasn’t pleased, either. Although the Speaker brothers — 106-pounder Evan, 113-pounder Will and 120-pounder Cody — all won to get the Bull Dogs out to the lead, Skinner said they should have recorded three pins. “I expected more,” Skinner said.
“And our wrestlers who lost have got to be better. They can’t be pinned. We are going to go back to the drawing board for our work on the bottom. It doesn’t hurt you so much in a tournament, but getting pinned in a dual meet kills you. If you looked at the East wrestlers who lost, they were fighting and doing whatever they had to do (not to get pinned).”
Evan Speaker started off the match with a pin of Will Connor with 52 seconds left in the first period. Will Speaker followed with a 21-8 victory against Jake Martindale. He was dominating the match when he almost got pinned in the third period when he got reversed and caught in a head-and-arm. He finally rolled free with 53 seconds left in the match and negotiated the rest of the way for a 10-0 North lead.
Cody Speaker notched an 11-3 victory against Ben Wilkerson at 120 pounds, but he just didn’t have any luck turning Wilkerson to his back. North led 14-0.
But then East rolled. Noblitt started the run with a pin of Hinckley, Mitch Gilbert planked Dan Petro in 12 seconds at 132, and Nathaniel Reed scored a fall over Jacob Lashley at 138 to give East its first lead at 18-14.
At 145, East’s Cody Reichenba won a hard-earned 6-0 decision against Jake Larson. North 152-pounder Andrew Jones almost pulled a huge upset at 152 when he scored three late points but fell 9-8 to Mike Wayant, who is now 25-4.
East’s Kyle Stillinger continued his hot streak with a pin of Chase Johnson at 160. At 170, East’s Jimmy Fisher improved to 18-4 with a pin of Armando Cordova.
Luke Teague finally got North back on track with a pin of Clayton Ferguson with only five seconds left in the second period. East led 36-20 at that point.
When North’s Luis Cambron scored an 11-2 win against Quade Greiwe at 195, the Bull Dogs still had a chance to tie with the score 36-24.
But at 220, North’s Brandon Woods needed a pin and was all out to score a 7-4 win against Brock Greiwe in the meet’s most exciting bout. Woods scored a reverse and got two back points in the final five seconds.
With the match on ice, East 285-pounder Rob McKee decisioned Kenny King 15-4.
“As a team, we just didn’t execute,” Teague said. “We didn’t get the pins.”