By Frank Foreman
GUYS MILLS —
Kyle Lukowich has been thinking about this moment for quite some time. Though it came a match later than he had hoped, the Conneaut senior made certain that Wednesday’s opportunity would not pass him by a second time.
Time to add Lukowich to the 100-win club.
Lukowich pinned Maplewood’s Henry Coyle in 1:10, and just like that, with a pump of a fist, the senior celebrated the wrestling milestone during Conneaut’s 42-38 Region 2 victory Wednesday night in Guys Mills.
“I’ve been thinking about this since the end of last year,” Lukowich said. “That was the goal. The goal ever since my first year was to at least get 100 wins.”
The memorable win came just two days after a tough 3-2 loss to Saegertown’s Tyler Vath on Lukowich’s home mat. Nevertheless, Lukowich responded the way special wrestlers do, coming out Wednesday night and taking care of business in quick fashion.
“The important thing was to try and bounce back from (Monday’s) match and keep a calm head,” Lukowich said. “I would be lying if I said there wasn’t pressure. I figured I needed to get the team points, so I tried to block out the 100th win.”
“Getting 100 wins is always an achievement,” Conneaut head coach Carmen Russo said. “It shows the consistency he has had throughout his high school career. He lost a tough one the other night at home, and we really wanted to get it at home for the fans who couldn’t come out here tonight, but just to achieve it is a huge accomplishment for him. I’m really proud of him.”
Russo was able to watch Lukowich notch No. 100 and see his team leave Maplewood High School with a win. But depending on which coach you talk to, the Conneaut victory wasn’t quite what it seems.
“We won,” Maplewood head coach Rod Dennis said. “Ten matches were wrestled, and we won seven of them. In my mind, with four forfeits, that’s a win.”
Maplewood posted forfeits at 113, 126, 145 and 285 pounds, putting the Tigers in a hole that even a strong night of wrestling wasn’t enough to get out of.
Maplewood’s Kenyon Andrews (106 pounds), Brandon Morton (138) and Jacob Alexander (160) all won their bouts by pin, while Austin Binkert (182) earned a major decision over Conneaut’s Aaron Brown. Jacob Parsons (170) earned a 7-0 decision over Braeden Morris, and Issiah Stearns picked up a technical fall over Wesley Gerber at 195 pounds to round out the scoring for the Tigers.
But it still wasn’t enough.
“They are all wrestling tough right now,” Dennis said. “Earlier this year, we were getting slaughtered, Out of 10 matches, we would win two. Now, we’re winning seven out of 10. We just have to keep working at it.”
While Lukowich stole the show for the Eagles, Taylor Ellis will have his shot soon enough, as Russo said he expects his 152-pound senior to crack the 100-win plateau next week. Ellis got one step closer after pinning Jeremy parsons in 1:06, moving Ellis to 14-2 on the year.
“Taylor is closing in on 100 wins, and he should get it next week,” Russo said. “He is another one who has worked real hard. He is incredibly determined by his goals.”
The third and final win for the Eagles excluding forfeits was Connor Overman at 220 pounds, where he pinned Darin Free in 42 seconds.
Tanner Rhoades, Cameron Adamson, Devin Foster and Brian Lipps all recorded wins via forfeit for Conneaut.
“I would like to see more aggression from our guys,” Russo said. “We have improved tremendously from the beginning of the year. We’re wrestling six first-year wrestlers, and this is a very young team with a lot to learn.”
Conneaut improved to 3-7 with the win, while Maplewood fell to 1-9.
Though the lopsided record is obviously not what Dennis or any of the Tigers want to see, Dennis is quick to point out that looks can be deceiving.
“We’re really not doing as bad as what our record shows,” Dennis said. “Right now, we’re just getting ready for the postseason. We’re teaching the guys to be physical and aggressive, and it seems to be working out.”