GUYS MILLS — Maplewood wrestling coach John Parker doesn’t like to talk about team wins and losses, but he couldn’t help but smile on Thursday night after his Tigers picked up their second straight victory to begin the campaign. Maplewood pinned four opponents and earned forfeits in two other bouts on their way to a 35-29 Region 3 win over visiting Union City.
Joey King kicked off the evening by getting his 90th career win due to a Union City forfeit at 215. Dylan Reed (285), Richard Atkins (106) and Chase Blake (126) followed with pins to give the Tigers a 24-0 cushion.
However, Union City earned points in the next five weight classes to pull in front 29-23. Maplewood’s Logan Gross (172) then battled for a hard-earned pin in what turned out to be the decisive bout of the night before Greg Roae clinched the Tiger victory with a win by forfeit at 189.
“It’s a nice change of pace,” Parker said of the 2-0 start. “We’re actually having fun.”
With the Tigers trailing 29-23 on the scoreboard with two bouts left, and a Maplewood win by forfeit coming in the final weight class, it was truly up to the two 172-pound grapplers to decide the winner. Prior to Thursday, Union City’s Nick Kaday had the most recent success against Gross, pinning him in under one minute in last season’s dual. However, Gross was out to get his revenge this time.
But, Kaday had the early advantage, recording two takedowns in the first period to go up 4-1 heading into the second. In the middle stanza, Kaday nearly had Gross pinned but had to settle for a five-point combo before Gross ended the frame with a reversal. Down 9-3, Gross chose bottom to start the third and got a quick reversal 15 seconds into the period to close the deficit to 9-5.
Gross then worked to try to get Kaday on his back but the duo went out of bounds with 50.9 ticks left on the clock. With not much time left, Gross had a plan.
“I was going to hit the cement mixer,” Gross said after the match. “It’s a move that I’ve been doing since I was really little. It’s won me many matches, so I knew I had to go for it.”
Using the optional start, Gross had enough momentum to get his tired opponent on his back and land the pin with just 33.6 seconds left in the bout.
“I realized he was getting tired, and I was tired, too, but I just had to fight through it,” Gross said. “I saw coach call the sign to stand up. I knew I just had to get him to his back. He rolled the first time, but I had barely enough power to get him back over.”
After the whistle the Maplewood bench erupted over Gross’ victory, and Roae jaunted out to the center of the mat to gain the Tigers’ final six points.
“It was a lot of desire,” Parker said of Gross’ victory. “One thing I preach to the kids is that I don’t care if they win or lose as long as they give me six minutes. We haven’t been able to get in good shape, so I can’t really put that on them being tired because we keep getting shut down. I kind of expect that, but Logan was feeding on (Kaday) being more tired that he was, and it gave him a second wind.”
Parker was pleased with the all of the victories in the match, calling it a “team victory,” and saying “every single match matters when you don’t field a full lineup.”
“Dylan started us right off,” Parker said. “He showed what he can do. I was happy to see him get that win. All the wins we got were meaningful. We took a few forfeits, and we got a couple new guys, but they showed a lot of potential for first-year kids. It’s sad that we don’t have the time we need to polish them. Everyone is feeling the same pains so we can’t cry the blues about that.”
Maplewood will look for their third-straight win to begin the campaign on Saturday when the Tigers travel to Cambridge Springs at 1 p.m.
Maplewood 35, Union City 29
106 — Richard Atkins (M) pinned Marcus Irwin, 0:51. 113 — No bout. 120 — No bout. 126 — Chase Blake (M) pinned Kaden Tripp, 5:35. 132 — Daithin Kent (UC) pinned Bryson Cosper, 2:28. 138 — Zach Beckwith (UC) pinned Adam Halstead, 1:20.** 145 — Owen Kerns (UC) by forfeit. 152 — Clay Thomas (UC) pinned Austin Parker, 2:48. 160 — Kyle Myers (UC) by forfeit. 172 — Logan Gross (M) pinned Nick Laday, 5:46. 189 — Greg Roae (M) by forfeit. 215 — Joey King (M) by forfeit. 285 — Dylan Reed (M) pinned Joe Pituch, 2:53. *Match started at 215. **Maplewood penalized one team point for unsportsmanlike conduct.