Raiders squeeze out Spartans

A quick lineup shuffle at the last minute at Nathan Hale forced every Spartan wrestler up a weight class, and prompted a pre-meet disclaimer from head coach Steve Hohl Thursday night.

“They were going to forfeit at Zach’s weight class (125), so we bumped everyone up,” Hohl explained. “So if it looks a little odd tonight, that’s why.”

But the Spartans took it all in stride, and showed they’d much rather compete at a more difficult level than take the points from an easy forfeit.

Spartan Bobby Stowell started off the night with a 160-pound match against Shane Werner, and Werner brought down the senior in the opening 10 seconds.

Stowell battled to stay on his stomach or climb to his feet, but Werner continually kept him off balance. Every time Stowell stood, Werner jerked the Bainbridge wrestler back onto the mat, and after a half-dozen hearty slams, the air in the darkened Raiders gymnasium was feeling fairly thick.

That is, until the final ticks of the second period -- when Stowell became visibly upset after another hard trip to the mat -- and ripped a two-point reversal on Werner at the buzzer to tie 2-2.

But the third was a continued lesson in gravity, and Werner gained seven more points to Stowell’s one, ending the match at 9-3.

Billy Thomas ran out a 9-1 lead against Colin Thoreen through a pair of periods, holding him in a near-fall position for what seemed to be an eternity. Thoreen took down Thomas for two points in the third, but Thomas reversed to get the points back and put the Spartans ahead 4-3.

“Billy used to be like a bull in a china shop,” Hohl said after the 171-pound match. “He’s gotten so much better tactically, he wrestled smart tonight.”

Nathan Hale’s Ian Paeth quickly dropped sophomore Elliott Thompson to the mat, and despite Thompson’s struggles, Paeth pinned him 60 seconds into the 189-pound tilt.

A forfeit at 215 gave Earl Young six points and another win; dual forfeits at 275 and 103 added nothing to the 10-9 Bainbridge score, and a Spartan 112-pound weight class forfeit put the Raiders back on top in the team standings, 15-10.

Lightweight Pat Macala squirmed out of a takedown and subsequent near-fall by Ben Harbough, and began working the Raider wrestler’s ankle and arm.

Macala spun Harbough around 360 degrees, only to find himself down another pair of points on a reversal, and on his stomach again. With the score 10-2 in favor of Harbough in the third, Macala’s spine resembled a Slinky as he struggled to stay off of his shoulder blades. But, the Nathan Hale grappler closed the door on Macala, pinning him at 5:21 of the match.

Both teams forfeited the 125-pound weight class, which brought junior Zach Smith to the mat against Justin Irwin. Smith rode Irwin like a mechanical bull, except it took both hands on the 130-pounder to pin him, and a little more than eight seconds to do so. Smith earned the Spartans another six team points a mere 51 seconds after the opening whistle.

With only five points separating the two teams, John-Michael King came out and scrapped with Nathan Castine in a tightly- wound contest. King recorded the initial takedown in the first, and an escape in the second put him up four points.

Castine eventually scored a pair, but the Bainbridge senior held out for a 4-2 victory, upping the Spartan score to 19.

With a chance to take the lead, Bainbridge’s Brian Robert wasted no time with a takedown and near-fall on Raider 140-pounder Vance Wilson.

He racked up two more near-falls and led 11-1 before Wilson finally succumbed to the Spartan sophomore 30 seconds into the final round. Robert’s pinfall put BHS ahead 25-21 with only a pair of matches remaining, but it would be the last of the Spartan points for the evening.

Freshman Dan Hammond found himself trapped in the same intense gravitational pull of the mat that Stowell had encountered earlier. Wrestling against 145-pounder Zach Arndt, Hammond was in constant downward motion and notched only escape points, five times, to Arndt’s six fast and furious takedowns.

But Hammond would not be pinned, and he held out to see the end of the 15-5 contest that would tie Bainbridge and Nathan Hale at 25.

With the score deadlocked, Ian Brooks had what may have been the toughest mental and physical match of the evening against Hale’s Sam Wildman.

Brooks, a sophomore, was seeing his first competition in more than a month against the more experienced Raiders senior team captain -- and a Spartan victory or defeat hung in the balance.

Wildman was stung with a two-point takedown by Brooks in the opening moments of the first, but escaped and turned the tables in the second by returning the favor. Brooks wiggled free and brought the Raider down again for a 5-3 lead going into the final two minutes.

But Wildman flipped Brooks over 40 seconds later, winning the six team points to put Nathan Hale over the top with 31.

“It’s tough,” Hohl said. “But we’re just trying to get some guys good matches.”

Junior varsity

Peter Paskell hit the mat on fire, pulled down Nathan Hale’s Nick Anderson and worked him around in circles before an Anderson reversal tied the score 2-2.

Paskell began the second period in the down position and the Raider bumped him over and cradled him in a near-fall long enough for a total of five points. With less than 10 seconds left in the middle period, Anderson finished the contest with a pinfall on Paskell.

David Winship started out quickly on the wrong end of a two-point takedown, but an escape and dramatic throw-down of Nathan Hale’s Inaki Linero left the Raider grimacing at the clock as the final seconds of the first period wound down. Another escape in the second -- followed by a takedown -- put Winship up 6-2, and he brought more of the same in the final two minutes. The Spartan ground Linero around the mat, marking an 8-2 junior varsity win.

Bainbridge hosts the Cross Sound Shoot Out today, 9 a.m. at BHS.

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