Coming off a championship in the Class 3A state duals on Saturday, the ninth-ranked Columbus East wrestlers were ripe for a letdown when they hosted No. 20 Bloomington South on Wednesday night.
The Olympians fell behind 17-0 after three matches before rallying to take the lead and then holding on for a 35-32 victory.
“It was an incredible letdown,” East coach Chris Cooper said. “Bloomington South is a good team. They probably should have been at team state. They were one of the teams close to being voted in. But it was definitely a letdown for sure.”
Just as the state dual final did on Saturday, Wednesday’s match came down to the final bout. With the Olympians leading 35-29, the Panthers’ 24th-ranked Ethan Roudebush needed a pin against East’s Nate Anderson at 132 pounds to forge a tie, and Bloomington South would have won on the sixth criteria, most technical falls.
But Anderson held steady threw two scoreless periods, then fought off a pin attempt by Roudebush in the third period. Roudebush won a 4-0 decision, earning only three team points instead of six.
“I hate how we had to wrestle that match the way we did,” Cooper said. “It would have been nice to give (Anderson) an opportunity to go out and beat somebody like that, but we always talk about the team being more important than the individual, so that was more about not putting himself in a position where we were going to give up six points.”
Starting at 138 pounds, the Panthers used a pin, a tech fall and another pin to take an early 17-0 lead.
“We started in a little bit of a rough spot,” Cooper said. “That’s right in the meat of their lineup. Their best kids are right in there, and we knew that going in, but that’s no excuse. Sometimes, that’s what happens.”
The Olympians got on the board when second-ranked Kade Law posted a 15-5 major decision at 160.
“I knew the kid was solid, but I was just going to go out and get to my attacks like I always do,” Law said. “B-South is a good team. They prepared well for it, and I think we prepared well, too.”
East’s Jordan Sutton then picked up a 13-4 major decision at 170 to cut the deficit to 17-8.
“I thought Jordan Sutton wrestled real well,” Cooper said. “He got a major there and got that extra bonus point, and that really helped out.”
The Panthers earned a decision at 182 before the Olympians claimed forfeit wins from 15th-ranked Jaden Durnil and seventh-ranked Tommy Morrill at 195 and 220, respectively, to tie the match at 20-20. East then took a 23-20 lead when eighth-ranked Ashton Hartwell captured a 10-3 decision at 285.
Bloomington South retook the lead with a forfeit at 106, but the Olympians got a pin from eighth-ranked Liam Krueger at 113 and a forfeit victory from eighth-ranked Noah Lykins at 120 to take a 35-26 advantage. The Panthers then pulled out a decision at 126, setting up the Anderson-Roudebush finale at 132.
“That team shouldn’t be as close in that dual as it was,” Cooper said. “There’s no reason for us to compete the way we did. We’re a much better team than that, and the guys know it, too. Our guys will look at that and say we definitely should have competed better.”
East will be back in action on Saturday in the Hoosier Hills Conference Tournament at Bedford North Lawrence.