SYRACUSE — If Warsaw wrestling coach Justin Smith could count on two kids to get the job done, they certainly proved the part Thursday night.
Trailing by 11 points with two matches to go, Warsaw’s Luis Munoz and Luis Cervantes needed pins to help Warsaw to its first Northern Lakes Conference win of the season. For the Warsaw duo, it took just two periods to get the job done. The 12 points gave the Tigers a thrilling 36-35 victory at Wawasee.
After a pin by Wawasee 113-pounder Tristan Ponsler of Dan Hench just 52 seconds into their matchup, Warsaw were down to its last two bullets, but two that have been through the wars before. The senior Munoz was up first at 120-pounds and took control from the outset on freshman Harvey Lopez. Scoring a takedown and two near falls, Munoz finally rolled Lopez over and squeezed long enough to score the pin at 1:44.
As Smith turned to his team, already huddled around Cervantes, the air of the gym had completely shifted. Cervantes, an experienced junior at 126 pounds, showed his mettle quickly on freshman Ronny Shortt, long on heart but not on varsity mat time. Cervantes had Shortt on the mat within the first 15 seconds and struggling for his competitive life almost immediately.
A three-point near fall for Cervantes was followed by the mat slap from official James Troyer at 1:55, setting off a wild celebration from the visiting bench.
“If I had to pick two kids to put up in the final two matches to bring it home, those would be my two kids,” boasted Smith following the victory.
The 36 points scored by Warsaw all came on pins. Ricardo Ahuatl scored one at 1:13 against Logan Bowers in the 138-pound card and Marcos Rodriguez needed 5:28 to finally put away Stephen Possell at 170.
Kyle Heckaman followed Rodriguez with a bounce-back pin of Devann Lilly at 3:01 despite nearly being pinned himself by Lilly in the first period.
Alec Haines gained the other pin for the Tigers seven seconds from the bell in the first period over Andy Holdeman in the 220-pound match.
“This was a total team effort, every point counted,” Smith said. “A couple guys stayed off their back. A couple matches went our way. We are missing Miguel Delfin at 220 but Alec Haines came out and stuck his kid with a beautiful half and that was really great. The boys really wrestled motivated and it was a lot of fun.”
Wawasee, which were celebrating senior night in its final home dual of the season, got 14 points from its four seniors.
Doug Corl started the night with a 6-4 victory over Rene Adame at 132. Nick Rozow dominated the 160-pound card against Huntley Davis, but left Davis unpinned on three occasions and settled for a 16-1 tech fall.
Brian Clark wrestled Rory Nolin to a 6-0 result in the 195-pound matchup and Chad Eppley scored just a takedown and one escape to get by Ben Plummer, 3-1, in the heavyweight match.
Michael Pena had a 6-1 win over Spencer Gareiss in the 145-pound match and Jake Sumpter put away Alex Fisher at 3:09 in the 152-pound dual. Warrior Josh Matthews was awarded a forfeit at 106.
Wawasee head coach Paul Meyer left the arena immediately following the postgame handshakes and was unavailable for comment.
Warsaw (5-6, 1-1 NLC) will take to St. Joseph County this weekend for the Penn Invitational while Wawasee (8-11, 1-3 NLC) will host its Wawasee December Duals which will include an NLC tilt with Plymouth amongst the five matches. Warsaw will face Plymouth in a rescheduled match next Wednesday. The Tigers wrap up the 2012 portion of its calendar with a return to Mishawaka for the two-day Al Smith Invitational Dec. 27-28.