MILLVILLE — The probability of a down-to-the-wire dual was looking pretty good, but the Riverhawks had other plans.
Ridgeline came from behind to win a pair of potential swing matches in pinning fashion, and it helped propel the hosts to a 54-25 victory over Green Canyon in a Region 11 wrestling dual on Thursday night.
“I was thrilled with those kids,” RHS head coach Jarrett Morrill said. “These were two hard-fought matches and, in each case, I think we gave up the first takedown, and I think we gave up near fall points in the first round in both. And both of (our) kids have a lot of heart. They’re both real hard workers and so I’m just thrilled with what they did tonight.”
Those two kids Morrill was referring to, Brenden Gessel and Ethan Buchanan, definitely allowed the Riverhawks to pull away from the Wolves. In fact, Gessel’s triumph put Ridgeline in the lead for good.
Gessel was trailing Travis Whiting 4-2 in their 138-pound bout when Whiting elected to choose the bottom position to start the second round. Not only did Gessel never allow Whiting to escape, he caught the talented Green Canyon grappler in a cradle, repositioned and slammed the door with 28 seconds remaining in the round.
“The Whiting kid’s good,” Morrill said. “He’s a good wrestler and so for Brenden to get that match was huge.”
It was one of four duels Ridgeline finished via the cradle as Ty Winward (113 pounds), Caleb Pirtle (120) and Ronan Melani (182) also prevailed with that pinning combination.
“He just wasn’t backing up into me enough,” Gessel said. “He drove forward a lot and I felt like I could just get my arm under his leg pretty easy. So, I felt like it was just there at the time and I took advantage of it. He made a mistake and I took it. ... It felt great to get that win.”
Gessel’s win pushed the Riverhawks in front 22-18, and the hosts proceeded to win the next three matches — all by fall. One of those pins was secured by Buchanan (152), who caught Bryton Blake in a scramble in the second round. Blake took a hard-fought 2-0 lead into the second round.
Buchanan was one of a handful of Ridgeline JV competitors who competed in the varsity lineup Thursday, and the 152-pounder battled out of some relatively tricky situations in the first round in his showdown with Blake.
“A couple of varsity kids are out, a little bit dinged up and I’m trying to get them healthy, so we’ve pretty deep at some of those weights and so it was nice to see those guys step up and still be able to perform well,” Morrill said.
In addition to the aforementioned grapplers, Matthew Keith (145), Rhett Gebert (160) and Bridger Hammond (220) prevailed by fall for the Riverhawks. Eight of Ridgeline’s nine wins were recorded in pinning fashion and the other by forfeit.
Green Canyon got pins from Daxton Darley (106), Mason Morris (132) and Garrett Herzog (285) — all in the opening round. Darley turned the tide of his match with a nice reversal.
Morris, who caught his opponent in a double arm bar, is a two-time state placer and has gotten off to a great start during the 2019-20 campaign.
“The goal is definitely to win a state title this season,” Morris said. “It will be tough. The state tournament is no joke, but I think if I work hard and I really go 100 percent and wrestle smart, I think I have a really valid shot of winning it this year.”
Also reigning supreme for the Wolves were James Shumway (126) and Lucas Garrison (170). Shumway was rock solid in all three positions en route to winning by major decision, while Garrison grinded out a 7-1 victory over Samuel Whelan in a match that featured several blood stoppages.
MUSTANGS 77, GRIZZLIES 6
Mountain Crest improved to 3-0 in region duals with another dominant effort, this time on the road against short-handed Logan, which forfeited six matches.
The Mustangs went 7-1 in the remaining duels, with six of those triumphs coming by fall. Luke Schroeder (113), Cooper Sanders (120), Terrell Lee (126), Wyatt Larsen (160), Hunter Schroeder (195) and Sam McMurray (220) pinned their foes. Mountain Crest’s Zack Smith (152) earned an impressive technical fall triumph over Jacque Miller, who has fared well for the Grizzlies this winter.
Logan heavyweight Quincy Wildman continues to sparkle as he was triumphant in pinning fashion.
BEARS 52, BOBCATS 24
Sky View traveled to 4A power Bear River and garnered the praise of head coach Bardett Bagley by winning five matches, including pins by Pedro Lopez (160), Conner Wabel (182) and Hunter Larsen (220).
Kade Croft (113) and Gino Demuzio (120) both pieced together strong performances for the Bobcats as they both prevailed by six points. Demuzio outpointed returning 4A medalist River Smith.
“It’s no secret we are a young and inexperienced team,” SV head coach Bardett Bagley said. “The kids have been working really hard all year and since Christmas break are starting to turn a corner. ... My assistants have done a great job of working with the kids individually and helping them buy into what we are trying to do. Probably the best overall team performance this season and I’m really proud of the boys.”