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Sunday, Feb. 05, 2012

South wrestlers sweep City Duals

todpalmer@theolathenews.com

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Groundhog Day provided the perfect setting for Olathe South’s wrestling team to snatch its first city wrestling championship in seven seasons.

The Falcons bolted to big leads early against Olathe Northwest, Olathe North and Olathe East thanks to their strength in the lower weights then held off late challenges to sweep their way to the Olathe City Duals crown.

“We’re strong up through about 145, real strong,” first-year South coach Conor Fitzgerald said. “We’ve got some good guys in the upper weight too, but, especially in a dual format, those guys in the lower weights provide some punch right away and give us a cushion for later on in the dual.”

Opening against the Ravens, the Falcons fell behind 5-0 after the 106-pound bout, but rallied into the lead with three consecutive pins by sophomores Cameron White (113), Anthony Vicchicrelli (120) and Matt Massey (126).

Building an 18-5 advantage, South then turned to the strongest three weight classes on its roster and its core group of seniors didn’t disappoint.

Jacob Copen (132) dusted off Ian Anderson 13-4 for a major decision, while Nick Bauerly (138) and Derek Pike (145) followed with pins in pumping the lead to 34-5.

ONW actually rallied to a 35-34 lead before Spencer Sperling’s second-period pin at 220 put South in front for good.

Against the Eagles, the Falcons again broke from the gate quickly building a 24-3 lead as sophomore Ben Deaton (103), Massey, Bauerly and Pike all picked up decisions.

North also was open at 120 and Copen scored a first-period pin at 132.

The only defeat in those first seven classes came at 113, where Eagles freshman Nick Haug outlasted Bailey Yetmar 4-3, but Pike later edged Michael Wurts 6-5 in the 145-pound bout – another critical toss-up that determined the final.

Once again, however, South failed to hold that lead as consecutive pins by seniors Gage Smoots (152) and Rory Haug (160) and junior Tobias Popchoke (170) and the Falcons’ open weight at 182 allowed North to edge in front 27-23.

Senior Nick Ryba won his match at 195 by injury default before Sperling scored another pin, allowing South to soar away with a 35-33 win.

The Falcons capped the evening by bolting to a 32-4 lead versus the host Hawks then gutting out a 37-31 victory when Olathe East senior Aaron Melchionne suffered a knee injury in the heavyweight bout and could not continue.

“It’s a great feeling,” Bauerly said. “We were talking before the duals about how great it would be to finally win a city championship, because none of us had won before. It’s just awesome.”

The Hawks were open at 106 and led 18-0 after White and Yetmar scored second-period pins.

“Two weeks ago at the Blue Valley Northwest Classic, the match was going good until he caught me and pinned me,” Yetmar said. “I told coach, ‘I want him again.’ When it came down to it today, it was do or die.”

Jonathan Diaz momentarily staunched the bleeding with a 15-5 major decision against Massey at 126, but Copen followed with another pin followed by Baurley’s 15-2 major decision and a 15-1 major decision by Pike that buried the Hawks in a huge hole.

East managed to climb out of it highlighted by John Blazevic’s 1-0 win against Ryba wrestling up a weight class and senior Myron Tipton’s second-period pin – his third win by fall on the night.

Tied at 31-31 entering the heavyweight match, there was still no score when Melchionne collapsed with a knee injury against South’s Carlos Ramirez and was unable to resume the match.

Olathe Northwest, which won the city title for the first time last season, finished second after knocking off East 33-32 and topping North 39-33.

Broc Bowman’s overtime win in the heavyweight class capped the Ravens’ rally from a 20-12 deficit midway through the dual with the Hawks.

But the key match was probably Taylor Brashear’s 2-1 win against Blazevic as he scored two points in the final 11 seconds of the third period.

Ian Anderson (132), Eric Haynes (152) and Conner Middleton (160) had pins for ONW in beating the Hawks.

Middleton bested Rory Haug 10-8 in one of the night’s premier matchups during the Ravens’ win against the Eagles.

The Hawks snagged third place by edging the Eagles 41-32 led by Diaz’s technical fall and pins by Ryan Brennan (132), Dylan Duman (138), Branden Trinkle (145), Anthony Koehler (160) and Tipton.

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