When the order of bouts was selected by random for Wednesday’s Columbus East vs. Columbus North wrestling showdown, one thing was obvious.
The Olympians were able to save their best for last.
East 132-pounder Dalton Noblitt, the only area wrestler to advance to the state meet a year ago, would wrestle North sophomore Jessee Holt in the evening’s final bout.
Indeed, everything came down to that final bout, Noblitt taking a 16-8 decision over a very tough Holt as East claimed a 30-28 victory at Columbus North High School.
“Coach (Chris Cooper) told me that I didn’t need to have a pin for us to win the match,” Noblitt said. “But I wasn’t nervous anyway. I knew I just have to do what I do.”
What Noblitt does is dominate opponents, and it was more of the same as his sophomore opponent was game, but not quite at Noblitt’s level. Noblitt, after all, is 27-3 on the season.
With Noblitt at the end of the lineup, Cooper knew his team would have to wrestle outstanding in some of the weight classes where the Olympians were overmatched in order to keep it close. They did.
“This was an outstanding team win,” Cooper said. “We really had guys step up. We tell the guys all the time that sometimes it’s not the wins that decide a match.”
Cooper was referring to the effort by Olympians such as freshman 220-pounder Jared Stadtmiller, who dropped a 5-1 decision to North’s Brandon Woods, who is one of his team’s top wrestlers.
Although Woods controlled the match, he couldn’t quite pick up the bonus points that are awarded for majority decisions or pins.
The failure of North to pick up those bonus points ultimately was the deciding factor and one that left North coach Nick Skinner frustrated.
“We beat ourselves,” Skinner said following the bout. “Other than that, I have no comment.”
With the match in doubt, the Speaker triplets almost turned everything in North’s favor.
Evan Speaker, the Bull Dogs’ 113-pounder, pinned East’s Cole Schultheis in 1:24. Cody Speaker, at 126, picked up a first period pin of the Olympians’ Stuart Byran.
However, North 120-pounder Will Speaker dropped a 9-3 decision to East’s Jacob Martindale in a match that was much closer than the final score. The two have split four matches over the past two years, and Wednesday’s match was in double until the final 30 seconds.
Will Speaker scored first with a takedown, but Martindale was ahead 3-2 at the end of the first period and 5-3 at the end of the second. Martindale controlled the third period to put his team up 26-22 with just two matches remaining.
With Noblitt one of the wrestlers left, North was pretty much locked out.
“That was a huge match for us,” Cooper said of Martindale’s victory. “I think Jake would admit that he hasn’t had the amount of success that he has expected. But we have fixed a few things, and I think he wrestled with confidence.”
Martindale, a sophomore, said he knew his match would decide the entire outcome. “I had a great week of practice, and I knew I would have to fight to win,” Martindale said.
He was fighting against a guy who had beaten him two of three times last season.
“Whenever I lose to someone, I come back with a vengeance,” Martindale said.
North got off to a 10-0 lead with 138-pounder Braden Hinckley, 145-pounder Jacob Lashley and 152-pounder Andrew Jones taking decisions. Jones got a bonus point with a 14-4 decision.
But East 160-pounder Maurice Dantzler picked his team up with a pin and Eat 170-pounder Jimmy Fisher tied the match at 10-10 with a 9-1 win.
North’s Luke Teague put the Bull Dogs up 13-10 with a 5-2 win, but East’s Quade Greiwe gave the Olympians their first lead at 14-10 with a 10-2 decision at 195.
After Woods won a decision, East 285-pounder Sean Galligar decisioned North’s Kenny King 7-5.
East won the 106-pound class by forfeit.