UNION CITY — The Union City wrestling team has been building to a big season for years now.
Thank to a slew of first-period pins, its latest step took less than an hour — in and out.
The Bears advanced to the quarterfinal round of the District 10 Class 2A duals after efficiently dispatching Girard on Tuesday night in a first-round matchup, 56-20.
“This is the start of what we’ve been planning on the last four years,” said Bears senior heavyweight Matt Long. “This group, my senior year group, we’ve all been looking forward to this year to see what we can do. And we’ve got a goal to go to Hershey. And this is the start of that. We want to keep that momentum going Saturday.”
On Saturday at Sharon High School, the Bears will compete in the quarterfinals against the winner of Thursday’s first-round battle between Slippery Rock and Greenville.
“Obviously, we’re looking one match at a time,” said Union City head coach Jeff Hiner. “Yes, we’re moving on. It’s time now to go home and start looking at (the next match). ... One match at a time.”
Last night’s contest against Girard got got off to a quick start as the Bears’ Evan Smith took 106 via forfeit.
Yet, the Bears sped things up even further thanks to seven wins by fall within the first two minutes.
Quintin Hedderick got the first, pinning Girard’s Gavin Herman in 42 seconds to win the 113-pound bout.
Later at 132, Union City’s Tallin Henry stuck Ian Lowe in 1:25.
Then at 160, Esteban Waldman pinned Mitchell Marfinetz in 46 seconds.
The Bears then ended the match in commanding fashion, winning the final four bouts in a grand total of 4 minutes, 10 seconds.
At 182, Gavin Henry flattened Trey Ryan in 42 seconds. At 195, Nick Kaday got the win by fall over Robert States in 1:30. Tyler Hedderick ended his 220-pound match over Ryan Graves in 45 seconds. And Matt Long closed out the night with a 1:13 pinfall over Jordan Schell.
That run took it from a 32-20 Union City lead to the 56-20 final.
Among the highlights during that last stretch was Hedderick pulling Graves from the edge of the mat by one leg and dragging him back to the center of the mat to finish things off.
“That was exactly what we needed from (Hedderick),” said Long. “Bonus points wherever possible. That was good.”
Another memorable moment was a lightning quick ankle-pick by Long that flopped Schell to his back like a rug was pulled out from under him.
“Matt Long, that was nice,” said Hiner. “We’ve been hearing a lot about the Girard heavyweight. He is much improved. He was 20-3 coming into tonight. So that was kind of a statement match for Matt Long. I think in the district rankings that Schell is No. 4. And I think Matt wanted to send a message that there is a big gap between 2 and 4.”
Girard had a first-period pin of its own, with Tyler Bryan beating Cain Greeley in 30 seconds at 170.
YellowJackets 145-pounder Marshall Marfinetz added a win by fall over Austin Jaquith in 3:46.
There were also back-to-back technical falls in the match. The 120-pound bout lasted 5:03 and went to Girard’s Ethan Herman, who outscored Austin Dolan 17-2.
But at 126, Union City’s Jayson Soliwoda got those five points back with a 17-2 technical over Dakota Slomski in 5:01.
Only two matches went the distance. At 138, Judah Gardner won a close back-and-forth clash against Girard’s Alex Brown 6-5. And at 152, Girard’s Dustin Roesch beat UC’s James Leyda 7-1.