UNION CITY — It was, for all intents and purposes, the championship showdown.
And while Union City and Eisenhower still have a pair of tough Region 3 clashes ahead, the atmosphere on Tuesday night at Union City Elementary was more like a football playoff game. The stands were full, the crowd was loud and the wrestling was fierce.
“We kind of knew coming in to the season that this was probably going to be the match to decide it,” said Union City head coach Jeff Hiner. “We feel like we have a pretty solid team. And they came to wrestle (Tuesday).”
When the buzzer sounded on the final match, it was the home crowd that celebrated as the Bears reeled off wins in the final four weights to beat the Knights 43-29. The win gave Union City (9-2 overall) sole possession of the region lead with a 5-0 mark. Eisenhower (4-2, 4-1 in the region) can still sneak in if UC stumbles.
But stumbling is not in the plan for senior William Burgess.
“We want to beat everyone,” said Burgess. “We know we are talented, but we have to keep showing that.”
It was Burgess who got his team’s final run started.
Eisenhower was coming off back-to-back pins at 113 and 120 pounds that gave the team a 30-27 lead. And, needless to say, the visiting fans made sure Union CIty knew who had the lead.
Burgess made sure they knew whose house they were in.
The senior went right to work on Eisenhower’s Easton Headman. Pushing the sophomore around the mat, Burgess finally got the opening he was looking for and took Headman to his back. Two for the takedown and three near-fall gave the Bear a 5-0 lead.
From there he just worked to get the control he wanted. That finally came right in front of of the Eisenhower bench. Burgess turned Headman and slowly got his shoulders to the mat. The fall time was 1:31, but Burgess wasn’t done. He jumped to his feet, ripped off his headgear and circled the mat near the Eisenhower fans with his hand to his ears, reveling in the boos that he heard.
“That is not something I’m proud of,” said Burgess. “But my emotions got the best of me there. It was such a big match, but it won’t happen again.”
It seemed to wake up his teammates as well.
Tallin Henry came out fired up and dropped an 11-0 major decision on his opponent at 132 pounds to give Union City a 37-30 lead with two weights left. Judah Gardner then added a 5-1 decision at 138 pounds over Josh Bortz. It was Gardner’s victory that sealed the dual for Union City.
“I have confidence in Tallin, Judah and Austin (Jaquith),” said Burgess. “I felt they were going to go out and win their matches, and they went out and did that. So that pin I hope got them going and helped them get us the championship, which we still have to finish off.”
With the match decided, UC had one last burst of emotion left.
Austin Jaquith took on Ike’s Garrett Head in the 145-pound final. The match went back and forth and culminated in a remarkable final 30 seconds. Trailing 8-7, Jaquith was on top to start the final period. But try as he may, Head wasn’t giving anything away. Finally, with about 30 seconds left, Jaquith turned Head and got two near-fall points for a 9-8 lead.
That was just the beginning of the fun.
Head was able to stop the count and managed to reverse Jaquith with about 10 seconds left. With both sides of the gym screaming instructions, it was Jaquith with the final work. He reversed Head with two seconds left to claim the 11-10 decision.
“That last match by Austin was absolutely awesome,” said Hiner. “It went six minutes and he beat a kid that was ranked third in the district I think.”
The opening eight matches were not nearly as dramatic.
Union City’s Esteban Waldman won the 152-pound starter by forfeit. UC also got pins from Gavin Henry (183) and Matt Long (285), while Marshall Vantassel picked up a decision at 170 with a late takedown. And Evan Davis received a forfeit win at 106.
“I was a little surprised (Eisenhower) bumped up their 152 and 160,” said Hiner. “So Marshall had a 10-pound advantage. And (Marshall) gave that kid three points.”
Eisenhower got falls from Nate Holt (160), Cael Black (195) and Josef Bauer (220).
Union City has little time to
The Bears are back in action tonight as they travel to take on Youngsville in another region contest. They wrap up region action on Jan. 23 at home against a tough Cambridge Springs squad.
Matthew Digiacomo can be reached at 724-6370 or by email at email@example.com.