No. 1 Blair Academy too much for No. 2 St. Edward

LAKEWOOD, Ohio -- When the rubber hit the road on Saturday afternoon, No. 1 Blair Academy, N.J., proved to have just too much depth for No. 2 St. Edward, Ohio. Trailing 16-15 after the 152-pound match, the top-ranked Buccaneers used victories in five of the last six matches to earn a 32-20 victory over the rival Eagles.

Even with two (or three) Blair Academy starters out of the lineup, the dual meet still played out pretty much to script. The proceedings started out with a St. Edward win from sophomore L.J. Bentley, his 12-4 major decision victory over freshman Matt Deehan would give the Eagles the opening 4-0 lead.

However, the visiting Buccaneers would then respond with three consecutive wins. That stretch started with a 5-2 victory for No. 20 Charles Tucker over Sal Corrao at 113 pounds. Tucker used takedowns in the first two periods to earn the victory. Blair Academy would take a 9-3 lead when No. 2 Matthew Kolodzik earned a fall at the 2:19 mark off a knee-tap to a cradle against freshman Austin Hiles, who was making his season debut in the 120-pound weight class. Then, in one of two weight classes identified as must-wins for St. Edward to steal the dual meet, junior Alex Rinaldi controlled the match at 126 pounds on the way to an 8-4 victory over senior Chance Driscoll.

The afternoon's marquee matchup saw No. 3 Dean Heil end the three-match losing streak for the Eagles with a 7-4 victory over No. 6 Joey McKenna. Despite being outwrestled in the first period, Heil was able to fend off two deep leg-attacks from McKenna to exit that period scoreless. The second period began with a McKenna escape, before Heil was successful in following up a leg-attack with a body-lock for a takedown and two near fall points. The wrestlers would trade takedowns in the third period to reflect the final margin, St. Edward cut the deficit to 12-7.

The other match featuring nationally ranked opposition saw No. 6 Mason Manville extend the Blair Academy lead back to eight with a 6-2 victory at 138 pounds against No. 17 Colin Heffernan. All the scoring came in the third period, after a scoreless first period and a second period in which Manville rode out Heffernan from the top position. It was an escape, takedown, escape, and takedown for Manville, while Heffernan had a reversal that cut the match to 3-2 with about 45 seconds left.

With No. 12 Dylan Milonas out of the lineup for Blair at 145 pounds, No. 3 Edgar Bright cut the St. Edward deficit in half with his 14-5 major decision victory over Walker Dempsey. It was two Bright takedowns in each period, as he earned the decisive victory. With No. 5 Russ Parsons also out for Blair, a 23-8 technical fall coming at the 5:01 mark for No. 9 Markus Scheidel gave St. Edward their second and last lead of the dual meet at 18-16.

The second of the swing matches was here at 160 pounds, and it started well for St. Edward, as senior Robbie Rogers secured the opening takedown. However, fellow senior Jack Wedholm changed the paradigm quickly with an escape and takedown before the first period was done to lead 3-2. The second period was the key two minutes of the dual meet, as Wedholm earned an escape, takedown, and three near-fall points to separate the match. Though Rogers did save the major with a very late escape, it was still an 11-4 victory for Wedholm, and an 18-16 lead that would stand through the rest of the match.

Junior Patrick Coover would extend that lead out to six points with a 12-2 major decision over fellow junior Ray Barr at 170 pounds. Senior Domenic Abounader, ranked No. 2 nationally at 182 pounds, would get the last victory for St. Edward in the dual meet with an 11-1 major decision over fellow senior Addison Knepshield. That reduced the St. Edward deficit down to two at 22-20 heading into the last three matches.

However, that meant Blair would send out No. 3 Frank Mattiace onto the mat at 195 pounds, where he would replicate to some extent his Ironman finals result with a major decision victory over Gabe Dzuro. This go around, the margin was 14-6, as Mattiace used three takedowns in the third period to separate what was a semi-competitive match through two periods into a major decision.

The 220-pound match featuring a pair of sophomores was also more or less a replica of their meeting at the Ironman, as David Showunmi clinched the dual meet for Blair Academy with a 10-5 decision victory over Parker Knapp. Showunmi controlled the affair from start to almost finish, as he scored a takedown and two near falls in the first to open a 4-0 lead that ruled the day. Finally, No. 2 Brooks Black put the final hammer on the dual meet with a 4-0 decision victory over St. Edward junior Ralph Nichols to reflect the 32-20 dual meet score.

Blair Academy also came out with a pair of very dominant wins in earlier matches on Saturday, 60-9 over Steubenville, Ohio and 61-9 over Marysville, Ohio. St. Edward also won their two earlier matches, 51-18 over Marysville and 60-10 over Steubenville. The match between Marysville and Steubenville was won 51-28 by the Monarchs of Marysville.

Even though the day's main attraction was the Blair Academy vs. St. Edward dual meet, the day's star was Marysville senior Noah Forrider. The three-time state placer, who signed with Ohio University, weighed in one weight class above his normal 138 pounds. Wrestling at 145 pounds in the first round of the day, Forrider used a third period takedown to earn a 3-2 victory over No. 3 Edgar Bright from St. Edward. It was a well-earned and justified victory for the Monarchs senior star.


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