Warriors Drop NLC Opener

MIDDLEBURY – It was a rough night on the mat for the Wawasee in Middlebury on Thursday.

The Warriors went into the Northridge Fieldhouse short on athletes and came out short on points. The Raiders cruised past Wawasee 52-12 in both school’s first Northern Lakes Conference meet of the year.

Michael Pena of Wawasee manhandles Northridge's Devin Rudloff in the 145-pound match.

Michael Pena of Wawasee manhandles Northridge’s Devin Rudloff in the 145-pound match. (Photos by Nick Goralczyk)

Wawasee would surrender 30 points alone on five forfeits for the night, creating a very tough margin to overcome.

After falling into a 12-0 hole after forfeiting the first two matches, Wawasee leaned on Tristin Ponsler to get the Warriors on the board. Ponsler did not disappoint. The sophomore made quick work of Northridge’s Mason Cross, pinning the 120-pounder in the first period to give Wawasee six points.

Javier Lopez picked up a win in the 126-pound match to give Wawasee back-to-back points making the deficit just 12-9 in favor of the Raiders. Lopez’s victory was one of just a few highlights on the night, and one that came as a mild surprise to head coach Paul Meyer.

“Lopez gave us one unexpected victory tonight,” stated Meyer of the sophomore’s 8-4 major decision. “That was a good win to see. He (Lopez) has been really dinged up this week so for him to come out and pick up a win tonight was nice.”

Another moment that came surely came unexpectedly to Meyer was Zach Ford’s loss in the 152-pound class.

Jon Yoder of Northridge makes it difficult for Wawasee's Ronny Shortt to get away. Yoder would win with a 10-0 major decision.

Jon Yoder of Northridge makes it difficult for Wawasee’s Ronny Shortt to get away. Yoder would win with a 10-0 major decision.

Ford had a 4-1 lead in the third period over Northridge’s Nick Maher. Ford looked as is he would escape with the win before Maher tied the match up on back points in the closing seconds to force overtime. In the overtime period Mahrer got the best of Ford with a takedown to claim a 5-4 win.

Wawasee would pick up three more points from Michael Pena who claimed a major decision over Devin Rudloff. That win in the 145-pound class would be the last for the Warriors on the night.

Meyer was certainly not content with taking the loss but saw a lot of good things to take away from the meet.

“There were some positives that did come from tonight,” said Meyer. “I am really enthused by the heart and the no-quit attitude that the kids had tonight. That is important for our guys.

“Overall, the score was around what we expected with so many forfeits. It’s coaches speak, but, we were just happy that the guys came out and competed. If we had more numbers, that would be different.”

As for what’s next, the Warriors will travel to the LaPorte Invitational this weekend for a 9 a.m. start at LaPorte High School. Meyer expects to see more of the same drive and desire out of his team this weekend.

“It should be a better weekend for us in LaPorte,” started Meyer. “For starters, we won’t be giving up 30 points in forfeits like we did tonight. That’s tough to overcome.

“This is a young team, really young. We have one senior, one junior and the rest are all underclassmen. So it’s tough to know what to expect but I do expect to see continued improvement and a lot of heart.”

There were two junior varsity matches on Thursday night. Marcos Mejia of Wawasee fell to Josh Schlabach 11-2 in the 126-pound class, while the Warriors Zac McKee claimed a 13-0 major decision over Chris Mitschelen.

Wawasee's Zach Ford looks to his coaches during his match against Nick Maher of Northridge.

Wawasee’s Zach Ford looks to his coaches during his match against Nick Maher of Northridge.



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