SYRACUSE — It was a pretty big spoiler to another strong invitational performance by Wawasee wrestling.
Facing conference arch-rival Northridge in their fourth dual of the day at the Warriors’ December Super Duals, the hosts came up a little short, and frustrations began to boil over onto the mat. After some talking-to by their coaching staff, Wawasee’s wrestlers rebounded with a win in their final dual of the day but had to settle for a runner-up finish behind the Raiders Saturday at the Hardwood Teepee.
Wawasee collected wins over John Glenn, Angola and Heritage as well as Northern Lakes Conference opponent Plymouth, but Northridge’s 32-27 win over the Warriors gave the Raiders bragging rights with a perfect 5-0 finish on the day. Plymouth placed third behind Wawasee with a 3-2 record, Glenn was 2-3 for fourth, Angola finished 1-4 for fifth, and Heritage went winless to round out the six-team standings.
“We want to give them credit. They came ready to go and they wrestled well, and they beat us on the mat,” said a visibly disappointed Wawasee coach Frank Bumgardner following the Warriors’ head-to-head with Ridge.
Wawasee was neck-and-neck with repeat NLC-champion Northridge for most of their match, and a trio of wins from 195 through heavyweight even put the Warriors out front briefly.
Damien Rodriguez secured a narrow, 5-3 decision over Ibrahim Khavocha at 195 pounds, Isaiah Tipping used two takedowns in the third period to claim a 10-6 decision over Omar Khavocha at 220, and Heagan Slusher nearly pinned Adit Ret in an exciting and fast-paced heavyweight match en route to a 12-5 decision that put the home team ahead, 15-13, against their rivals.
But two pinfall losses at 106 and 113, a surprising 7-5 defeat of top 16-ranked Jace Alexander by Evan Beasley at 120 and a major decision defeat at 126 left the Warriors in the hole, 25-15. Geremia Brooks cruised to a 20-7 major decision over Logan Hooley at 32, but persistent concerns that the Raiders were stalling began to bubble over during that match — stalling that prevented Brooks from scoring either the tech fall or pin that seemed inevitable early in the match and that effectively left Northridge out of reach.
Stalling was again an issue during Braxton Alexander’s 138 match with Adam Hooley, a match that was marred by stop-and-start action due to some extracurriculars on the mat, blood time and a number of warnings to both wrestlers. The home crowd’s displeasure with the officiating reached a crescendo, and the emotions of the match finally reached a breaking point when Alexander gestured toward the Northridge sideline during one of many breaks in the third period. The number four-ranked Wawasee 38-pounder got the win, but only by a simple, 8-6 decision, and the Warrior coaching staff corralled their young charges for a private meeting in the auxiliary gym at Wawasee.
The Warriors bounced back with a dominant 78-0 win over Heritage in their final bout of the day, but they clearly weren’t interested in consolation prizes.
“There were some individuals from other teams that looked really good. I thought Graham Calhoun from Plymouth, he looked like a stud. The 13-pounder from Angola, he was pretty tough,” said Bumgardner. “The other teams had the individuals, and Northridge was just really, really solid. They did what they needed to do.”
Raymon Torres finished 5-0 for Wawasee at 170 pounds in a perfect performance that included three pinfall victories. Slusher and Tipping each went 4-1 at heavyweight and 220, respectively, while Braxton Alexander and Brooks finished 4-0 on the day.
The Warriors will look to regroup at home versus Penn next Thursday evening. Wrestling starts at 6:45 p.m.