By Pete Chiodo
With Linesville on its north end and Jamestown coming up from the south shore, Thursday night’s Region 2 wrestling match between Conneaut and Jamestown shaped up to be the battle of the Pymatuning.
By the end of the night, it was the Muskies ruling the waters as they downed the Eagles 46-30.
Jamestown head coach Steve Pfaff was pleased with the win, but also saw some places where his wrestlers need to improve.
“Some of them need a little work,” said Pfaff, whose team is coming off a third-place finish at the Hickory Tournament this past weekend. “It’s the first (dual match) of the year. We’ve got some freshmen on the team and we’ve got to tighten some things up and get them better for the year. But for the most part we did pretty well.”
Conneaut, meanwhile, falls to 0-2 overall and in the region. But last night, first-year head coach Carmen Russo saw some improvement from his squad’s 57-16 loss to Cambridge Springs just two days earlier.
“The kids came out and wrestled hard and aggressive,” said Russo. “We had a short time to recover from Tuesday, and I thought they did. Some of our kids just got caught trying to force some things. ... Jamestown is a good team. They’re well coached. ... They came out and they were on their game tonight.”
Both teams received a pair of forfeit wins, including in the scheduled opening match at 285. So, the night started at 106. There, Conneaut sophomore Tanner Rhoades did what he could to stay out of trouble against Jamestown sophomore Hunter Goodlin. But Goodlin still came away with a 13-5 major decision.
“I think (Goodlin) stayed in good position, he looked pretty good,” said Pfaff. “I think he was wanting a little more. He was hungry. But you know what, (Rhoades) did a nice job. He looked pretty physical. Hunter ... was going for the pin, but it was a pretty good match.”
A group of forfeits followed, including a forfeit to Conneaut’s highly-touted 132-pounder Kyle Lukowich, which drew some groans from the home crowd.
“Our ’32 was hurt,” said Pfaff. “(Freshman Josh Jones) got hurt at Hickory. He could have possibly wrestled there. But next week we’re going to region duals (at Greenville on Dec. 21). We’re going to have 10 matches down there. If I take a chance of him getting hurt (against Lukowich), I lose him for all those matches down there. The forfeits; it wouldn’t be worth it. Really, we were thinking about it. If we needed him we would have sent him out. But in that position, I think we were better off doing that. ... Lukowich is a tough wrestler. I know he was a little upset that we did that. But I’d rather have my kid for next week.”
Even so, Russo was displeased. It was the second time Lukowich had been dodged this season.
“Unfortunately when you go to states and you were as dominant as (Lukowich) was last year and you wrestled all summer, coaches are afraid to send their wrestler out,” he said. “Because if I’m going to give up six (points), I’d rather do it in a forfeit and bump that wrestler up to the next weight class to give him a better shot.”
After the forfeit to Lukowich, Jamestown rattled off three straight wins. At 138, Jake Reaugh defeated Cameron Adamson by injury default in the second period. The 145-pound bout was a quick win for Muskies freshman Trey Lamont who scored a 36-second fall over Conneaut freshman Hunter Sullivan. Then at 152, Jamestown’s Devin Randall pinned Devin Foster in 1:24.
Conneaut’s Taylor Ellis halted Jamestown’s streak when he pinned Jamestown’s Nathan Blattner in 1:01 to win the 160-pound match.
“I think (Ellis) looked sharper on his feet than he has from the beginning of the season,” said Russo. “He’s on a mission. He wants to go to states and he thinks about that goal every day. He’s relentless.”
Then it was three more wins by fall for Jamestown. At 170, Garrett Morgan got the three-count on Trevor Mohra in 59 seconds. Muskies 182-pounder William Shappee then pinned Aaron Brown in 1:54. And Jason Shappee caught Paul Beresford for a pin in 2:34 during the 195-pound bout.
“It was a pretty good match,” said Pfaff. “Like I said, the younger kids have some work to do. But it’s coming. They’ll keep getting better. That’s all we can do.”
At 220, Connor Overman allowed the Conneaut side to end the night on a high note as the Eagles senior scored a pin in 3:55 over Jamestown freshman Trenton Wargo.
“Connor had a big match on Tuesday against Ryan East,” said Russo. Overman defeated East 5-3 in sudden victory. “(Overman) came out tonight humbled by that victory. He’s working hard every day. He’s new to the sport. This is his first year. He just drills nonstop just to get caught up to his opponents. And he’s doing a great job.”