SYRACUSE — It was a bittersweet night on the mat for the Wawasee wrestling team. The Warriors missed a few chances and ultimately took a 42-30 defeat at the hands of NorthWood but started the night celebrating their four seniors.
“They’re coaches. They’re coaches who compete,” said Wawasee coach Frank Bumbgardner of his senior class. “These kids buy into the overall philosophy of progress and wanting to improve any day, every day to continue what we’re doing. In practice I never have to worry those four guys. They’re getting their workouts in. They will take care of themselves, but they’re going to bring people along. They’re really imprinting good stuff on the younger kids.
“It’s been fun. This is a good group of seniors and I wish I had them longer.”
It was somewhat of a mixed bag of results for that senior class Thursday night. Stephen Possell was unable to compete due to an injury he suffered a few weeks back. Ronny Shortt wrestled an entertaining match with Brock Lechlitner but ultimately fell by way of a 13-9 decision in the 138-pound tilt.
Tristin Ponsler made things interesting at 132 with Lane Flowers before ultimately earning a win by fall. Ponsler’s win brought Wawasee within six on the scoreboard at 30-24. The next two matches at 138, 145 and 152 did not go the Warriors way which left Zac McKee to finish out the night. Though Wawasee could no longer earn the team victory, McKee gave fans something to cheer for in his senior night performance. The 160-pound competitor pinned Mikey Edwards in the second period to cap the senior night celebration in a fitting way.
Wawasee’s night started off strong as both Brandon Lopez (170) and Alex Castro (182) pinned their respective opponents to jump the Warriors out to an early 12-0 lead. Michael Leonard earned NorthWood’s first points with a 6-2 decision over Jeremiah Dilley at 195. Three straight pins by Andrew Webber (220), Dylan Maugel (285) and Tanner DeMien (106) gave NorthWood a lead that it would never give back. Braxton Alexander was a winner by fall at 113 over Travelle Cooper. NorthWood earned victories at 120 and 126 to help build its lead.
While the Warriors left with a loss the change of attitude for the program has certainly been noticed and Bungardner is loving what he sees from his boys on the mat.
When asked what he was most impressed with from his team, Bumgardner did not hesitate, “Fight.”
“We just talked about it with the team,” Bumgardner continued. “This program has not fought like that for years. We’ve been working on just grit lately and having that scrap in us, that fight. It showed tonight. NorthWood was a better team, just up and down the lineup. They had details that they paid more attention to and that showed.
“That’s a tough team, a scrappy team but we were able to scrap with them. It was a good, hard dual.”
Wawasee (11-13, 0-3) will host Goshen Tuesday night.