LINESVILLE — For a team coming off a heart-breaking region loss, the Meadville wrestlers didn’t look down at all.
In fact, the Bulldogs came out firing from the opening whistle and rolled to a 44-25 win over Conneaut Area during non-region action on Thursday. Turns out, there were a couple big reasons for the pumped-up ’Dogs.
“The decision against McDowell was reversed,” said Meadville head coach Barry Anderson. “It turns out McDowell used an ineligible wrestler. And using him changed how we sent our guys out on the mat. So we now get the win by forfeit.”
That was huge news for a team that is hoping to challenge Cathedral Prep for the District 10 Class 3A Team Duals title. Now, the Bulldogs (6-2) don’t have to hope that tiebreaker criteria puts them in as the No. 2 or No. 3 seed. Meadville, McDowell and Warren were headed for a three-way tie for the three spots not taken by Prep. But with McDowell’s forfeit, MASH sits in the driver’s seat at 2-0 in the region. The Bulldogs still have to wrestle the Ramblers (as does Warren and McDowell). But the Bulldogs only need to beat Erie to clinch the No. 2 seed.
“He shouldn’t have been there at all,” said Meadville head coach Barry Anderson. “When I talked about us winning (over McDowell), that pumped them up. They were motivated. ... They want to show what they have every time they are out. They feel like (against McDowell) they didn’t do that. That fired them up a little bit as well.”
Oh, there was also a chip on the team’s shoulder from last year.
On Jan. 11, 2019, Conneaut made the trip to Meadville’s House of Thrills and laid down a 44-21 thumping. Despite it being almost 365 days later, that loss was still fresh in many of the returning Bulldogs’ memories.
“We are rivals, so that adds to it,” said Meadville senior Tommy Pollard. “You always want to beat a rival. Especially since they beat us in our place (last year), we wanted to beat them in their place.”
It showed from the onset.
Starting at 170 pounds, Trent Tidball, who picked up his 100th win against McDowell on Wednesday, jumped on Conneaut’s Josh Anderson. A quick takedown and three near-fall gave the Bulldog senior a 5-0 lead after the first. Anderson then made the mistake of starting down in the second and Tidball made him pay. The Bulldog was methodical as he set up the junior and, when he found the position and leverage he liked, put him on his back for the fall in 3:47.
Sophomore Griffin Buzzell then took the mat at 182 and was even more dominant as he pinned his opponent in 22 seconds. After a Conneaut decision and a forfeit in Meadville’s favor, it was Pollard’s turn.
Bumping up a class, Pollard gave up around 40 pounds to CASH sophomore Connor Schellman. It might as well have been nothing. Pollard was aggressive and took Schellman down immediately. Not liking the position he was in, Pollard let the Eagle go and started over. Soon after he got another takedown that included a pretty solid headlock. The ref counted the fall at 1:11.
“I just knew I had to get to my offense,” said Pollard. “I know I can match anyone’s strength. So if I get to my offense, use my attacks and use my speed, I will be fine out there.”
And it wasn’t just the old guard getting the job done for Meadville.
Sophomore Billy Terwilliger wrestled a great match to pick up an 8-2 decision at 106 pounds. Then freshman Alex Kinder reached deep into his gas tank to pull out a 7-5 overtime decision at 113. After Vincen Rinella won by forfeit at 120, Westin Chess came on to dominate his match at 126.
Chess recorded just one takedown in the win. But his ability to dominate from the top position was the difference. He scored two near-fall in the first period. Added six near-fall in the second and capped a 15-0 (5:22) technical fall with five more near-fall in the third.
“We have wrestled some very tough matches,” said Anderson. “We took care of business right away. And then our young beat their young.”
At that point, the match was clinched.
That didn’t stop Winstin Heagy from capping the outcome in style. It was the last match of the night and the 160 pounder led 2-1 heading into the final period. With the sideline telling him to take down, Heagy indicated to the referee that he wanted to start neutral. It almost cost him.
Conneaut’s Dylan Lehmann was able to get in on a leg and score the go-ahead takedown about halfway through the period. Heagy worked to escape but was never able to break Lehmann’s grip. Finally, with three seconds left, the duo were headed to one last restart.
“I heard the whole bench screaming, ‘Stand up, stand up!’” said Heagy. “I figured maybe that was what he was counting on since I tried it the first two times and that I should try something different. I tried to get around as fast as I could and when I felt him go to his back I knew I had it.”
Heagy faked the standup, turned and completed the reversal just before the final buzzer for the 4-3 win.
Conneaut (2-3) has nothing to hang its head about.
A couple takedowns the other way and the outcome could have easily changed hands. As it was, the Eagles did get key wins from several key grapplers. Trevor Tursky notched a 7-2 decision at 195 pounds. Collin Hearn (132) and Jonny O’Neil (145) each won by fall. And Brady Gould pocketed a solid 9-1 major for CASH at 138 pounds.
“It just comes down to not having the depth,” said Conneaut Area assistant Courtney Roberts, who coached the team in the absence of head coach Kevin Welsh. Welsh is expected back Monday. “We will get there, but not having that to where we can shuffle guys up and down to get the best matchups, especially against good teams like Greenville (on Wednesday) and Meadville (Thursday).”
MEADVILLE 44, CONNEAUT AREA 25
106: Bill Terwilliger (Mv) dec. Kyle Lantz, 8-2; 113: Alex Kinder (Mv) dec. Trent Roncaglione, 7-5 (ot); 120: Vincen Rinella (Mv) won by forfeit; 126: Westin Chess (Mv) tech. fall Connor Peterson, 15-0 (5:22); 132: Collin Hearn (CA) pinned Avery Brunson, 2:26; 138: Brady Gould (CA) major dec. Tanner Ehrgott, 9-1; 145: Jonny O’Neil (CA) pinned Isaac Chatman, 5:28; 152: Jesse Davenport (CA) won by forfeit; 160: Winstin Heagy (Mv) dec. Dylan Lehmann, 4-3; 170: Trent Tidball (Mv) pinned Josh Anderson, 3:47; 182: Griffin Buzzell (Mv) pinned Pierce O’Day, :22; 195: Trevor Tursky (CA) dec. Rhoan Woodrow, 7-2; 220: Jason Phillips (Mv) won by forfeit; 285: Tommy Pollard (Mv) pinned Connor Schellman, 1:11.
Note: Match started at 170 pounds.
Records: Meadville 6-2; Conneaut Area 2-3.