By Pete Chiodo
Meadville’s Zach Luben earned some redemption on senior night, and the Bulldogs wrestling team earned a 36-29 victory over Central Tech in a Region 4 dual match on Wednesday at the House of Thrills.
Luben’s match at 138 against Central’s Paul Mancuso was a rematch from last season. Luben came up on the short end of that meeting, and it had bugged the Bulldogs senior ever since
“I lost to that kid last year,” said Luben. “I bumped up a weight class to face him and I lost 3-2 at Central Tech.”
In the rematch, Luben was up 2-0 when he got reversed and turned onto his back early in the second period. But he quickly regained control and ended the second with a 6-3 advantage. And before the third period ended, Luben rolled Mancuso onto his backside for a pin in 5:22.
“First period, I felt a little out of position. But I didn’t feel that much in danger,” said Luben. “I was confident the whole time.
“It felt pretty good to beat him this time,” he added. “I practiced pretty hard this year. I wanted to beat him. I wanted to avenge that.”
The bout was the final one for Luben at the House of Thrills.
“It came real fast,” he said. “It was here before I knew it. I can’t believe I’m a senior. If feels like I was a freshman last week.”
Luben’s victory gave Meadville (11-7, 4-4 Region 4) a 33-9 lead over Central. It came after a strong opening string of bouts for the Bulldogs.
In short order, Meadville had a 12-6 lead after some back-and-forth forfeits from 220 through 106,
“I still had to get a little bit creative and get some points where I could,” said Meadville head coach Barry Anderson. “But we had a little bit more of a fuller lineup. Day to day we’re healing up and getting more kids back that are ineligible. We’ll be back to full strength hopefully by next week.”
At 113, Derek Ridgeway added six more points to the ’Dogs’ tally. He trailed Central’s Kyle Nash 4-1 and started the second period on the bottom, but flipped Nash over to his back and scored the fall in 2:46.
“Derek, you can’t teach that stuff,” said Anderson. “He just goes out and does it time after time. You can say, ‘Oh, he caught that guy.’ But he’s catching everybody now. He’s really putting together some nice moves.”
Freshman Kyle Luben followed that up with another second-period pin at 120. He was up 9-0 on Central’s Jose Lopez when he got the shoulders to the mat in 3:17.
Then at 126 pounds, Ashton Longstreth battled back in the third period, scoring six straight points over the final 46 seconds to notch a 9-4 decision over Tech’s Justin Burns.
“Ashton continues to have good starts for us,” said Anderson. “He’s doing a very good job.”
Central earned a few wins after this. At 132, Robert Harris authored a 6-5 victory over Kris Nottingham. And following Zach Luben’s win, Justin Cruz scored a 26-second pin over Tyriee Kasper at 145, and David Markiewicz won by forfeit at 152 to trim Meadville’s lead to 33-21.
However, Patrick Adams stopped the bleeding and sealed the dual match victory for the Bulldogs in the 160-pound bout by scoring a 7-4 verdict over the Falcons’ Daquan Pope.
“Patrick Adams, I thought he wrestled a really good match,” said Anderson. “He could have gone on at 152, but I thought we had a better matchup at 160. And he really went after the kid and did some good things for us. And after that match it was over.”
Central picked up points via a 10-7 decision by Deyshawn Carr over Louis Crawford at 170 and a 21-5 technical fall by Santos Guerra over Ben Bish in 182. But the Bulldogs were too far ahead to catch.
“We were excited about that (getting the win),” Zach Luben said. “We lost to Central the last two years. This year was our year to beat them.”
With the loss, Central fell to 7-4 overall and 4-4 in Region 4.