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East wrestlers struggle against No. 4 Franklin

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FRANKLIN — The Columbus East wrestling team knew coming into its meet against fourth-ranked Franklin that it had to bring its “A” game.

But with a handful of returning state qualifiers for the Grizzly Cubs and an explosive attack off the first whistle, the Olympians struggled early, falling 64-3.

“Franklin is an outstanding team, one of the best in the state,” East coach Chris Cooper said. “Giving up so many falls was costly to us in this match.”

The Olympians (1-1) gave up half its matches to pins, six of those coming in the first eight matches.

“We were very aggressive, but Franklin was at a different level,” Cooper said. “They outmatched us in many ways and controlled the outcome of the match.”

East had opportunities to keep matches close, one being with 145-pound sophomore Ben Wilkerson falling 4-2 to Jacob Kriech. Wilkerson trailed 4-0 going into the final period when a late reversal put him down 4-2. Wilkerson tried a late cradle attempt with nearly 10 seconds remaining but ran out of time.

At 120 pounds, Olympian sophomore Jacob Martindale kept his match close going into the third period, but Shane Wilkerson executed a late takedown to notch a 7-4 decision for the Grizzly Cubs (2-0). While the match looked close on the scoreboard, senior Dalton Noblitt got the lone win for East at 132 pounds, getting a quick takedown and controlling the top position for much of the match to win a 6-3 decision.

Noblitt said he was satisfied but expected more in his win.

“My goal was to go out and pin him and get team points,” Noblitt said. “He got real defensive and stalled a bit toward the end of the match and kept me from getting more points.”

Cooper said that Noblitt kept his intensity throughout the whole match.

“(Noblitt) wanted to get more points, but he got the points he needed to win the match,” Cooper said. “He’s one of our best guys, and he really showed his toughness tonight.”

Noblitt said he needs to get in better shape after making 132 for the first time this year.

“This is my first time this year cutting to this weight, so I have to get my conditioning up,” Noblitt said. “I need to be able to be in good enough shape to go the full six minutes.”

Cooper said he expects the team to improve its conditioning and get better every day.

“We have to get better,” Cooper said. “We preach that all the time. We want to be at our best come tournament time, and each year our team has bought in to that philosophy.”

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