GIRARD — The pressure of competing on the road in the District 10 playoffs, while battling some sickness in the lineup, wasn’t too much for the Titusville Rockets wrestling team to overcome in Wednesday’s 39-37 win over the Region 4 co-champion Girard Yellow Jackets.
In what Titusville coach Joel Stearns called a “complete team effort,” the Rockets landed six pins and won seven of the 11 contested bouts in order to rally for the road win despite giving up 18 points due to forfeits. Titusville advances to Saturday’s District 10 quarterfinal round at Sharon High School and will face the Mercer Mustangs at 9 a.m.
“We took third in a tough region this year and with three forfeits, you don’t expect to be in the district duals,” Stearns said. “That just shows how tough our kids are. They’re mentally tough and starting to come along as a team; bonding and wanting to fight together and for each other. That’s what you want. I’m proud of them.”
It was a wire-to-wire dual between two physical teams, but Titusville trailed by one point (34-33) with only the 145 and 152 bouts remaining on the card. Rocket Jarrod Rodgers, coming off a second-place finish at Fred Bell, was determined to get six points with a pin of Girard’s Ian Lowe. Although it didn’t come easy, Rodgers floored his man at the 2:51 mark to give the Rockets a slim 39-34 lead heading into the deciding match of the night.
With a trip to the quarterfinals on the line, it came down to Titusville’s James Titus and Girard’s Dustin Roesch. Prior to the match, Titus was battling an illness and missed the first two days of school this week on Monday and Tuesday before coming to class on Wednesday in order to compete on the mat, according to Stearns. With his team up by five points, Titus just needed to avoid being pinned or giving up a technical fall, and the Rockets would win the match outright.
Both grapplers came out with a burst of energy at the first horn. The pair exchanged a couple of takedowns and reversals as the score was locked up at 4-all after the first period.
In the second, Titus differed his choice until the third and Roesch started the frame from the top. A few seconds after the whistle, it appeared that Titusville’s season was about to end as Roesch had Titus on the mat, but the Rocket senior was able to get his shoulders off the mat to only surrender a nearfall. Better yet, Titus landed a reversal on Roesch and almost connected on a pin of his own before the final horn sounded with Titus holding a 9-7 advantage on the scoreboard.
Titus chose the top for the final period of the night and was able to maintain control through the first minute. However, Roesch reversed Titus and put him on his back with 30 seconds left on the clock. With the crowd starting to erupt and sense a winning pin for Girard, Titus mustered up the strength to get his stomach back on the mat and avoid the pin through the final horn. Although Titus lost the bout 12-9, the Rockets survived and advanced with the 39-37 team victory.
Stearns called his senior’s performance “gutsy.”
“On a good day, he would probably beat that kid, but he just ran out of gas,” Stearns said. “It’s all heart and mental toughness.”
Leading up the to final tilt, Titusville got pins from Zach Rodgers (120), Seth Donovan (132), Jarrod Rodgers (145), Levi Nosko (182), Kolin Baker (195) and Joe Jacobson (220).
However, Stearns highlighted Devin Patterson’s 8-6 decision over Abe Keep in the 170 bout as the “one of the biggest matches” of the evening.
With Titusville trailing 6-0 after Girard landed a pin in the 160 bout that started the dual, Patterson exacted his revenge on Keep, who pinned the Rocket sophomore last season. Patterson had leads of 2-0 and 4-2 before Keep rallied for six points in the third period. However, Patterson landed an additional takedown in the third period that won him the match.
Stearns was pleased with how is team handled the pressure of a hostile crowd and playoff atmosphere.
“These kids know what’s on the line,” Stearns said. “It’s hard when you give up 18 points and you’re telling the kids that you need six (from each of them). That’s a lot of pressure. When you’re trying to force a pin, sometimes it doesn’t happen. You saw that with Jarrod Rodgers. A tech. fall was no good for us. We put the pressure on them and they came through.”
Titusville 39, Girard 37
160 — Mitchell Marfinetz (G) pinned Duane Christy, 1:54.
170 — Devin Patterson (T) dec. Abe Keep, 8-6.
182 — Levi Nosko (T) pinned Dylan Anderson, 1:20.
195 — Kolin Baker (T) pinned Robert States, 3:47.
220 — Joe Jacobson (T) pinned Ryan Graves, 1:26.
285 — Jordan Schell (G) pinned Gage Sutton, 1:52.
106 — Gabe Messner (G) by forfeit.
113 — Caleb Pinaire (G) by forfeit.
120 — Zach Rodgers (T) pinned Lance Cardman, 1:31.
126 — Dakota Slomski (G) by forfeit.
132 — Seth Donovan (T) pinned Dylan West, 0:41.
138 — Ethan Herman (G) major dec. Brock Covell, 14-0.
145 — Jarrod Rodgers (T) pinned Ian Lowe, 2:51.
152 — Dustin Roesch (G) dec. James Titus, 12-9.