With two matches left, Meadville looked to be in the drivers seat with a 33-28 lead, two-time state qualifier Vincen Rinella set to take the mat and standout freshman Westin Chess waiting in the wings.
That final win never came.
McDowell picked up a pair of tough decisions in the final two weight classes to capture a 34-33 Region 5 win and put the Class 3A Team Duals bracket into complete disarray. With the win, McDowell is now 2-1 in the region, while Meadville and Warren are both 1-1. Meadville has aready beaten Warren, while the Dragons handed McDowell its loss.
“For that 9th grader, (Caden) Butterfield, to get a win there (against Rinella), that was big for them,” said Meadville head coach Barry Anderson. “He knows it, and (McDowell) knows it, and they stepped up and performed to the challenge. I thought we underperformed.
“Now it all depends on what the (District 10 committee) looks at. Yeah, we beat Warren, but Warren beat McDowell and McDowell beat us. So any one of us could be the one, two or three seed now.”
The loss overshadowed some stellar performances.
Perhaps top on that list was Trent Tidball’s win at 170 pounds. The senior entered the night sitting on 99 career wins and knew he had a tough showdown with the Trojans’ Noah Bielak. It was the first meeting between the two, but Tidball knew what to expect.
“I hadn’t wrestled him before,” said Tidball. “But I’ve seen him wrestle before. He is a pretty good wrestler.”
Apparently, he had seen plenty.
The Bulldog attacked quickly and scored the first five points with a takedown and three-nearfall-throw combination. After Bielak was able to get back to his knees, Tidball went back to work and tilted Bielak for what would have been three more nearfall. But before the points were awarded, Tidball worked into a better position and stuck Bielak’s shoulders to the mat in just 1:44.
Win No. 100 was in the books.
“I kind of knew what he was going to do,” said Tidball. “I knew if I went out there and got to my tie ups, he was going to push into me. So that is how I set up that throw.”
Meadville also got pins from Tommy Pollard (220) and Griffin Buzzell (182). But the reason the Bulldogs were in position for the win with two matched left — Isaac Chatman and Alex Kinder.
Chatman bumped up a weight class and took the mat at 160 pounds with his team trailing 12-0 thanks to a pair of decisions and a forfeit. Chatman scored the only points of the first period with a takedown. But McDowell’s Tyler Posten started the second from the down position and got those points back with a reversal. Chatman didn’t panic. He methodically scored his own reversal and then pinned Postin in 3:50.
Kinder was inserted to the lineup at 113 so Rinella, Chess and Avery Brunson (132) could move up a weight. He looked like he’d been in the lineup all season against the Trojans’ Tyler Moorey, a fellow freshman. Kinder came out aggressive and got a quick takedown. He then hounded Moorey on the mat before finally turning him on the edge of the mat. With just his toes in bounds, Kinder was able to get the leverage he needed to pin Moorey in 1:15 to give Meadvile the 33-28 lead.
“Those were big pins,” said Anderson. “We got the matchups we wanted. Going into a match like that against a team that has 40 kids on the roster, you never know who they are going to send out when. We got into a position where we had to go for matchups. We got what we wanted most of the time, but just didn’t perform at every weight we needed to.
“And after Tool City, I was pleased with taking third. But I told them, ‘we need to work on some stuff.’ We worked on some of that stuff and we into (this) match, they should have been able to do it, but just didn’t do it. It’s just the performance part of it.”
The Bulldogs will have to get over the loss quickly.
The team is back in action today at Conneaut Area for one last tune-up before next Wednesday’s huge home clash with Cathedral Prep. And win or loose, Meadville’s new century man wants to send a message to the Ramblers.
“I thought we had it (Wednesday) night,” said Tidball. “We have to use it as motivation toward the future. We’ve been disrespected by Prep for as long as I have been here. We may not win, but we are going to show them we are for real. As long as we do that, I’ll be happy.”