OTTAWA – It’s pretty tough for a high school wrestling team to look in midseason form with only one or two matches under its belt.
However, on Thursday night against Interstate 8 Conference rival Plano and nonconference opponent Somonauk, the Ottawa Pirates showed that they don’t have to be 100% on top of their game to post quality wins against solid competition.
Twice against Plano, the Pirates got back-to-back clutch pins right when they needed them. First, Ottawa’s Anthony Evans at 170 pounds and Tate Spicer at 182 got wins to rally them from an 18-6 deficit to a tie, then from 106-pounder Ivan Munoz and 113-pounder Dallas Harmon to take them to a 33-30 lead on the way to a 39-33 victory over the Reapers in Kingman Gym.
The Pirates and Reapers both picked up wins over a five-athlete Somonauk squad, 51-9 and 72-12, respectively.
“That pin at 170 was a huge one that swung the momentum our way, then Tate got another to tie it up, and we got the ball rolling from there,” Ottawa coach Pete Marx said. “We knew Plano would be a tough one; they beat us last year, so we knew it would come down to a match or two, and fortunately, it went our way tonight.
“We had some kids that made early-season mistakes in the middle weights, so we could have performed better there, but the team cheered each other on, picked each other up and showed a lot of fight, a lot of heart. It’s a scrappy bunch right now, and I tell them that its not about win or lose, it’s how you go out and perform. Are you scrapping or are you just rolling over? And so far, they’ve been giving it all they’ve got.”
Ottawa got a pin (1:39) by Isaac Ultrich at 132 before the Reapers netted 18 straight points, a 6-1 decision by Norbert Gajda at 138 and pins by Caiden Ronning at 152 (3:49) and Gio Diaz at 160 (1:01) to make it 18-6 Plano.
But then the Pirates got back on track with the pins by Evans (:09) and Spicer (1:45). A fall by Plano’s Richie Amikiri at 195, a 2-1 win by Ottawa’s Charles Medrow at 220 and a forfeit win for Plano at 285 took the score to 30-21 visitors, before Munoz collected his 1:04 pin win at 106 and Harmon did the same at 1:22 of the 113-pound match, erasing that deficit with only two matches to go.
The Reapers’ Marcos Garcia eked out a 9-8 victory at 120 to knot the score again at 33, but Keegan Duffy’s forfeit win at 126 gave the hosts the win.
“Caiden Ronning has just been outstanding for us, great hips, great power and great sense on the mat,” said Plano coach Dwayne Love, whose squad has nearly doubled in size (20 to 38) since last winter. “Our lower weights, those are younger guys wrestling for us. We’re excited about them. They’re our future, and we’ll keep building on those guys. Our bigger guys have been around the program longer and they did what they were supposed to do. Our middle weights are wrestling well, so we’re happy with our performance tonight. We just fell a little short at the end.
“All I want from them is each time they step on the mat, keep improving and we’ve done that.”
Because Somonauk has such a small team, the other two matches went quickly, although there were some highlights for the Bobcats.
Mason Smith picked up a 113-pound win by pin with 1:45 showing in the first period and 126-pounder Aiden Rowan claimed the win at 49.3 of the first against the Reapers.
Against the Pirates, Rowan again was a winner at 126 with a fall at 18 seconds of the first period, followed by Smith claiming a 9-4 decision at 113. Also netting wins for Ottawa were Mereka Duffy at 145 (:29) and Ava Wetherford at 132 (4:34).
“It was a good night for us,” Somonauk coach Mike Otto said. “Both of these teams are 2A, so it’s a great opportunity to test ourselves early, and we appreciated the chance. ... We’re still making some mistakes, but they’re things we can iron out. The kids are looking pretty good so far, but it’s the end of the season that you want to be ready for, and whatever happens along they way, it happens.”