Avery Brunson

Meadville’s Avery Brunson lifts Cathedral Prep’s Philip Stark during the 120-pound bout of a Region 7 wrestling match on Wednesday at the House of Thrills. Brunson won a thrilling 6-4 decision over Stark in overtime. It was Prep coming away with the team victory, however, as the Ramblers upended the Bulldogs 50-24.

Cathedral Prep and Meadville, two teams that could potentially wrestle for the District 10 big-school duals title in a month or so, got together for a pivotal Region 5 match on Wednesday at the House of Thrills. 

The end result, however, looked like a battle between two small schools that are struggling to fill out a lineup. 

Apparently, the flu bug that’s going around the area, the same one that postponed yesterday’s match between Titusville and Conneaut Area, has had its way with Meadville and Prep as well. 

By the time it was all over, there were seven forfeited weights, most people got out of the gym by 8:15 p.m., and Cathedral Prep had itself a key 50-24 victory. 

“We’re banged up,” said Prep head coach Mike Hahesy, “and Meadville’s banged up. So it’s nice to get the win. Meadville has been a quality program for years and years. Barry (Anderson, Meadville’s coach) does a good job with his kids.”

With the win, Cathedral Prep took full control of first place in Region 7, improving to 8-0 overall and 3-0 in league matches. 

Meadville fell off the pace, slipping to 6-3 overall and 2-1 in the region. 

“You saw, there were a bunch of illnesses on both teams,” said Anderson. “Uncharacteristically, there were a lot of forfeits. We got hit and they got hit with illnesses. And that’s why we got a lot of goofy matchups.” 

Many of the best wrestlers for both teams just came out and got their arms raised, like Prep’s defending state champion Dorian Crosby at 220 and Northwest Region fourth-place finisher and Meadville native Marques McClorin at 160. And among the Meadville wrestlers not getting any action was 15-0 Trent Tidball at 170.

And, of course, each time one of the teams didn’t send out a wrestler, the other team’s respective fan base would grumble in the stands. 

In between it all there were some pretty good matches. The first one took place at 120, with Meadville’s Avery Brunson facing Prep’s Philip Stark. Brunson was down 4-2 late in the second when he got an escape with six seconds left. Then in the third, he pulled out from bottom with 39 seconds to go to knot the score. Finally, in the overtime period, Brunson got in with a solid single-leg, putting Stark to the mat to win 6-4 with 13.8 left on the clock. 

“I thought Avery did a really nice job of sticking with that kid,” said Anderson. “He was getting points when he needed to get the victory. It was a real tight match all the way through and he ended up coming through in overtime. And he almost had a takedown a couple times before that. He did a nice job in his pursuit.” 

Brunson’s win gave Meadville a 9-0 lead. Prep had forfeited 113 to the Bulldogs’ Alex Kinder. 

After that, though, the Ramblers rocketed out to a 36-9 lead. At 126, Kaemen Smith pinned Westin Chess in 5:17; Steffan Lynch and Ben Tirpak won by forfeits at 138 and 145; defending state champion Paniro Johnson decked Winstin Heagy in 1:14 to win 152; and McClorin took the forfeit at 160. 

Tidball got his forfeit at 170 to cut Prep’s lead to 39-15 with five weights to go. The match was mathematically still within Meadville’s reach. 

However, 182 was a crucial bout. And it ended in a heartbreaker for Meadville’s Griffin Buzzell. He was the aggressor throughout his tangle with Prep’s Kelyn Blossey, leading 3-0 late in the third. Then with just a few ticks remaining, Blossey tossed Buzzell onto his back for two takedown points and added two back points as the clock struck zeroes, giving the Rambler a 4-3 victory. 

“With six seconds left we’re winning by three and we get tossed to our back for two,” said Anderson. “That was tough to watch, because Griffin dominated that match for 5:50 and that happened. We’re chasing the kid all over. I thought he worked really hard to win that match. And to have it taken away right at the end, it was hard to watch.” 

The two teams then traded forfeits. Meadville’s Rhoan Woodrow received one at 195. Then Crosby got one at 220, throwing his headgear to the mat when it was announced and costing his team a point on the final score. 

Meadville got its final victory of the day at heavyweight, with Tommy Pollard bumping up to face Prep’s John Campbell. Pollard had takedowns in the first and second period and was leading 4-3 through two. He put the finishing touches on the win with an escape and another takedown in the third. 

The match ended with Prep’s returning state qualifier Jacob Van Dee pinning William Terwilliger in 3:13.

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