Fit-ting end In another down-to-the-wire showdown, Central tops GS
By: BRUCE MORGAN Record Express Sports Editor, Staff Writer
The similarities between Manheim Central’s two wrestling matches last week were striking.
As was the case against Conestoga Valley last Tuesday, Jan. 8, the Barons’ showdown with Garden Spot came down to the wire on Thursday.
In both instances, the crowd was loud.
And Manheim Central had a freshman on the mat for the final bout.
But the second time was the charm for the Barons.
Just two days after dropping a tough 33-32 loss to CV, Central snapped a 31-31 tie against the Spartans on Brock Fittery’s 8-7 win in the 182-pound weight class, and that was the difference in a 34-31 Barons’ decision in a thrilling Section Two battle in Manheim. If that wasn’t enough drama, Fittery’s winning points on Garden Spot sophomore Jake Riehl came on a reversal with only 1.8 seconds remaining in the third period.
It was the perfect timing for Fittery to earn his first varsity win.
"On the heels of Tuesday, your heart is beating like crazy and I found myself in positions on the edge of the mat (where) I’m not sure what I was doing at the time," Central coach Troy Sunderland smiled. "It was just an exciting match. At CV while we were waiting to figure out who won, I said to the kids, ‘Win or lose, just enjoy the moment because this is something that you’ll remember.’ So with a second match like that in a week going down to the wire, I guess that added to it having a relatively inexperienced young kid out on the mat to have all that come down on his shoulders."
The Barons (4-1 L-L, 7-4 overall) certainly had other heroes on this night as well, as they took an early 21-6 lead, then weathered the storm as GS went ahead 22-21 and 28-27, only to see Tyler Rhoads and Garden Spot’s Ben Swarr trade wins in the 160 and 170-pound bouts to forge a 31-all tie going into the final bout.
That, of course, set the stage for the Fittery-Riehl matchup with all the marbles at stake. With Central’s freshman down by one point late in the second period, he appeared to score a reversal and take Riehl to his back as time expired. But with the fans roaring at a deafening pitch, the official never heard the buzzer, and although he signaled a pin easily after the clock ran out, it went for naught. So too, as it turned out, did Fittery’s reversal following a long discussion at the scorer’s table and Riehl maintained a 3-2 advantage heading to the third.
"I felt pretty confident there wasn’t back points," Sunderland said. "I felt we had a reversal, but there’s not a whole lot that you could do. It was just like, ‘Alright, we’re just going to the third period and we’ll suck it up.’ There was not a lot you could do because it was a tough situation and a tough decision either way."
Added Fittery, "I still knew I had a period left, so (my thoughts were), ‘Just keep going.’ That kind of stuff can happen all the time. It was just loud. It was nobody’s fault. It just happens."
It remained loud in the third period as Fittery got the equalizer on Riehl’s stalling point, then took a 6-3 lead on an escape and takedown at the edge of the mat. But after Fittery was hit with a second locked hands call, Riehl broke free for an escape and then executed a takedown with 19 seconds left to go in front 7-6. The Barons, though, would get the final say thanks to Fittery’s reversal at the wire.
"I just kept trying to get my hips up and get around. (I figured), ‘Either I’m going to get pinned or I’ll score trying to do it," said Fittery, who added three more wins at the Panther Duals at Central York last Saturday to improve his record to 4-5.
Afterward, he handled the excitement in stride.
"I mean, all I did really was I just scored the last three points," Fittery remarked. "Anybody else would have done it too. You’ve got people like Joe Giffin getting that real important pin and people like Caleb Enck pinning and Ben Metzler (scoring a fall) with 2.7 seconds left. And I kinda felt like, all I did was I just happened to be the last drawn and happened to get my first win."
By doing so, he also helped the Barons hand Garden Spot (4-1 Section Two) its first league loss, while pulling into a second-place tie with the Spartans behind only Conestoga Valley (5-0 L-L).
Overall, the Barons and Spartans combined for seven falls in the match, with Garden Spot’s Swarr getting things started by pinning Peter Michael (10-13) in 3:30 in the 195-pound match. But the Barons’ Rey Lasanta (13-6) answered with a first-period fall (1:05) at 220, starting a run of four straight wins by Central, and when heavyweight Giffin (5-5) decked Jake Mueller in 5:36, the hosts had their first lead of the night, 12-6.
"We knew, obviously, it would be close and bonus points would play a part," Sunderland said. "There were pivotal points where we knew we needed to get bonus points and one of the matches that we didn’t count on getting bonus points or honestly a win even was at heavyweight and Joseph Giffin did an awesome job. That was a huge swing, momentum plus points, everything. That was a huge effort."
Enck (15-9) delivered another big effort with a 56-second fall over Lester Stover at 106 and then Kyler West (16-9) capitalized on a third-period takedown to defeat Tyler Marburger in the 113-pound bout to make it 21-6.
"We didn’t really anticipate (Kyler’s bout) was going to be that close," Sunderland said. "But if that goes the other way, that’s the match. And it was a battle, it was nip-and-tuck and he got the takedown in the third period."
The Spartans didn’t go away, though, and back-to-back falls by Chance Norris (1:29) and Zack Martin (3:10) at 120 and 126, followed by Nick Cook’s 8-0 major decision in the 132-pound bout put Spot ahead 22-21.
Ben Metzler (17-4) responded with key bonus points for the Barons at 138, decking Kory Montoro in 5:57 to swing the lead back in Central’s favor, 27-22. But it was short-lived, as the Spartans’ Tanner Leid won 5-1 at 145 and Will Finkey persevered for a 3-1 decision at 152 to give GS a 28-27 advantage.
That brought Central’s Tyler Rhoads (9-6) out for the 160-pound bout against Matt Christie, and the Barons’ junior came through with a strong performance, scoring a takedown with 21 seconds left for an eight-point lead and then holding on down the stretch to preserve a 12-4 major decision, putting the Barons up once more, 31-28.
"It was just workman-like style … he got a takedown to go up by eight and then had to ride him out and did a nice job," Sunderland said. "He didn’t have a stall warning so he could drop to the leg. I felt he wrestled really a smart match, strategically a smart match."
Garden Spot’s Dan Swarr wrestled a smart match in his own right at 170 in a 4-0 shutout of J.J. Sanchez (14-8), which tied the score at 31-all. But a memorable finish was still to come for the Barons.
"I said to (GS coach) Brian (Schilling), ‘This is a great TV match, win or lose,’" Sunderland said. "It was exciting for everyone. I’ve got elementary and middle school kids in the stands that were up there screaming and I’m screaming and parents are screaming. You name it, we saw it."
Last Saturday at the Panther Duals at Central York, Austin King went a perfect 5-0 and West, David Fantom, Metzler, Siegrist, and Sanchez all were 4-1 to help lead the Barons, who won three of five matches.
The Manheim Central matmen easily handled the host Panthers 54-18, Littlestown 63-15 and Hanover 51-21, but suffered tough losses to Susquenita 35-34 and Bermudian Springs 39-27.
In their match against Susquenita, the Barons fell behind early 20-6, but then reeled off six straight wins between 138 and 182 to grab a 34-20 lead. Metzler had a 50-second fall, Siegrist and King recorded back-to-back forfeits, Rhoads followed with a 3-1 win, Sanchez earned an 8-4 decision and Fittery came through with a 10-0 major.
But Susquenita took the final three bouts, with a pair of pins, to pull out the victory. More BARONS, page B-2