It was hoped that the host Panthers would get defending state champion Jose Rodriguez, who is ranked No. 3 in the nation at 113 pounds, back for tonight's competition; however, he did not weigh-in, still recovering from a knee injury sustained at the Walsh Ironman. That development derailed any remote, outside hope they had of an upset over the nation's top ranked team.
As did the opening match of the dual meet. Coming off the momentum of beating two returning state placers to win a title at the Medina Invitational, junior Jake Newhouse entered tonight's dual meet with hope of potentially upsetting No. 17 Charles Tucker at 120 pounds. Tucker's performance year-to-date had been particularly uneven. Tonight, he demonstrated the extremely good side of that. Two takedowns in the first period, and single takedowns in the second and third period led to a 9-5 meet opening victory for the Blair Academy grappler.
However, the evening's second match would offer hope for the host Panthers, but it ended up being a rare highlight for them. Senior David Bavery, a three-time state placer who won state as a sophomore, came up with a massive 9-8 upset victory over No. 4 Matthew Kolodzik at 126 pounds.
For most of two periods, nothing suggested such an upset was possible. Kolodzik had the two takedowns in the match, while Bavery had escapes off of each takedown and to start the second period. However, with short time in the second period, Bavery secured a takedown and was able to exit two periods with a 5-4 lead.
"It made something click," said Bavery about the late second-period takedown. "The match was now in reach. I was able to pick it up, and boost the intensity level for the third period."
However, Kolodzik came out strong at the start of the third period with an early reversal. In the next sequence, Kolodzik was able to expose Bavery with a tilt, but no near fall points were awarded. A subsequent Bavery escape, and Kolodzik's second stalling call gave Bavery a 7-6 lead. Kolodzik would then counter with a takedown, but Bavery responded with a reversal for a 9-8 lead with 45 seconds left. Bavery then was able to ride out the match in one sequence, and pick up the victory, which tied the dual meet at 3-3.
"This is what I train for, and it was great to persevere and get the win," added Bavery.
The response from Blair Academy was sudden, it was stark, and it was decisive. In the very next match, at 132 pounds, junior Jordan Kutler got a takedown right off the whistle against fellow junior Jason Spencer. Kutler was able to ride out the duration of the first period. An escape, takedown, and two-point near fall in the second period would extend Kutler's lead to 7-0, and that was how the match would end.
Seven more Blair Academy victories later, all but two coming by decision, the top-ranked Buccaneers had clinched the dual meet.
"It was humbling," said Massillon Perry head coach Dave Riggs. "We knew they were a tough team coming in, tonight (obviously) showed it, but this will motivate us to be a better team going forward."
Following Kutler's 7-0 decision victory was a pair of decisive victories for the future Stanford Cardinal duo of No. 1 Joey McKenna (138) and Walker Dempsey (145) against a pair of juniors, who were returning state qualifiers. McKenna upended Nick Steed 9-2 with two takedowns in the first period, and single takedowns each in the second and third period; while Dempsey earned a 7-1 victory over Austin Phillips with a takedown in the first period, two takedowns in the second period, and riding out Phillips from the top position in the third period.
The next two matches featured clashes of nationally ranked wrestlers. At 152 pounds, No. 8 Mason Manville replicated his semifinal victory from the Beast of the East, this time upending No. 14 Casey Sparkman by a 5-2 score. Takedowns in the first and third period were the difference.
Dylan Milonas (Photo/Rob Preston)That was followed up by a clear statement from No. 2 Dylan Milonas at 160 pounds, who started extremely strong with a four-point move right off the bat. It was unlike the Ironman quarterfinal in which Milonas had to rally back from a deficit in order to beat Tony Dailey. In this match, Milonas augmented that with single takedowns in the second and third period to earn the 9-4 victory over the nation's No. 11 ranked wrestler.
Sophomore Brandon Dallavia, who is ranked No. 18 nationally, followed up with an 8-0 major decision over two-time state placer Isaac Bast at 170 pounds. The major decision was confirmed with a two-point near fall in the last seconds of the bout.
To close out the string of eight consecutive victories, Nick DiNapoli would score a 3-2 decision over Brady Durieux at 182 pounds, and David Showumni earned a fall in 39 seconds against Timmy Armstrong.
Stopping the bleeding, ever so briefly, for the Panthers was senior Stefano Millin, a two-time state qualifier. Millin scored a fall at the 7:20 mark, when he reversed sophomore Neil Putnam to his back in the first portion of the ":30-:30" tiebreaker.
Blair Academy would put a stop to that tempest with a 2-1 decision from Will Cooley, who beat fellow senior Seth Maylor in the 285 pound bout. The difference in the match was two stalling infractions called against Maylor while he was in the bottom position, as Cooley was trying to set up a near fall opportunity in the top position during the second period.
The penultimate match gave Massillon Perry another positive moment, as senior Thomas Genetin earned a pin at the 1:32 mark against freshman Zach Sherman at 106 pounds. That match marked the first time all night in which the Panthers were able to score the first takedown of the bout. To close out the dual meet, sophomore Requin van der Merwe scored a 6-1 decision victory over Zac McCauley at 113 pounds to make the dual meet score 37-15 in favor of the top-ranked Buccaneers.
"It was gratifying to get that (11-3 match) split against such a formidable team (as the No. 8 ranked Panthers)," said Blair Academy head coach Solomon Fleckman. "We made progress tonight, but we'll have to wrestle better going forward (most notably in the Saturday night dual meet at No. 5 St. Paris Graham)."
120: No. 17 Chaz Tucker (B) dec. Jake Newhouse, 9-5
126: David Bavery (MP) dec. No. 4 Matthew Kolodzik, 9-8
132: Jordan Kutler (B) dec. Jason Spencer, 7-0
138: No. 1 Joey McKenna (B) dec. Nick Steed, 9-2
145: Walker Dempsey (B) dec. Austin Phillips, 7-1
152: No. 8 Mason Manville (B) dec. No. 14 Casey Sparkman, 5-2
160: No. 2 Dylan Milonas (B) dec. No. 11 Tony Dailey, 9-4
170: No. 18 Brandon Dallavia (B) maj. dec. Isaac Bast, 8-0
182: Nick DiNapoli (B) dec. Brady Durieux, 3-2
195: David Showunmi (B) pinned Timmy Armstrong, 0:39
220: Stefano Millin (MP) pinned Neil Putnam, 7:20 TB
285: Will Cooley (B) dec. Seth Maylor, 2-1
106: Thomas Genetin (MP) pinned Zach Sherman, 1:32
113: Requin van der Merwe (B) dec. Zach McCauley, 6-1
Other dual meets of the triangular:
No. 8 Massillon Perry 59, Massillon Jackson 3
No. 1 Blair Academy 76, Massillon Jackson 0