Jason Shuey knew exactly what he needed to do when he took the mat Thursday night.
With Columbus North trailing Decatur Central by five points going into the final match, Shuey needed a pin to give the Bull Dogs the victory. So he went out and pinned the Hawks’ William Balisteri in 1 minute, 47 seconds to give the Bull Dogs a dramatic 37-36 victory in their wrestling home opener.
“I was watching scoreboard the whole time (leading up to the final match),” Shuey said. “Everybody was telling me, no matter who’s on the mat, we need a pin, and that’s what I did. I stuck to my stuff. I didn’t quit on anything. I just kept working it until it worked. It feels great my senior year to start off with a show.”
Starting at 132 pounds, North opened with a loss by decision, but then won five consecutive bouts, all by wrestlers who bumped up a weight class, to take a 25-3 lead. Joseph Cloud (138) won by pin, Justice Thornton (144) scored a tech fall, Josiah Green (150) and Eric Streeval (157) each won by major decision and Asher Ratliff (165) came through with a pin.
Decatur Central then came through with a forfeit victory and three consecutive pins in the upper weight classes to take a 27-25 lead. The Bull Dogs’ Nolan Riley won by forfeit at 106, but the Hawks gained a decision at 113 and a forfeit win at 120 to take a 36-31 win and set the stage for Shuey’s heroics.
“We knew it was going to be really tight,” North coach Matt Joyce said. “We ended up having to bump a lot of our kids around and make some adjustments, and our kids responded with the kind of toughness that you want to see as a coach. You can’t ask for more out of them.
“All those wins really matter, and what matters maybe more were the guys that lost, but lost small,” he added. “When it comes down to just a handful of points, those guys contributing, that really matters. Not to take anything away from the guys that won because they did a great job of bumping and wrestling tough.”
The Bull Dogs had opened their season on Saturday by going 2-3 in the Bloomington South Duals.
“It’s good to pull back to .500,” Joyce said. “But we’re improvement focused, and seeing the kids improve from last weekend to today, that’s really what we’re looking for. The kids responded really well to making adjustments.”
Thursday was the start of a big seven days of wrestling for North. The Bull Dogs host the North Duals on Saturday and host crosstown rival Columbus East on Wednesday.
Saturday’s duals will be an eight-team event featuring the Bull Dogs, along with Brown County, Bloomington North, Cascade, Guerin Catholic, Madison, Western Boone and Westfield.
“(Westfield is) a tough team,” Joyce said. “We have a lot up-and-coming teams in that tournament. Bloomington North is putting some things together. Cascade is usually pretty tough.”
“We sent the guys off in a high state of mind for this weekend,” Shuey added. “Hopefully, we’re going to do the same thing there.”