HERMITAGE — Bad things can happen out on the wrestling mat. What matters is how those setbacks are dealt with.
The Saegertown wrestling team had two glowing examples of how to bounce back from adversity as the Region 3 No. 3 Panthers took on Region 2 runner-up Hickory in the first round of the District 10 Class 2A team championship tournament at the Hornets’ Nest on Wednesday.
That resiliency helped the Panthers claim a 58-17 win over the Hornets, moving them on to the Class 2A quarterfinals, which will be held Saturday at Sharon High School. Saegertown will take on Region 4 champion General McLane — a 52-24 winner over Conneaut Area last night — at 11 a.m.
“The guys are wrestling well,” said Saegertown head coach Jim Mulligan, whose team improved to 10-4 on the season. “They’re hungry. They’re fired up. They’re healthy. They’re ready to roll.”
The first comeback win for Saegertown came at 160.
The Panthers were already up 12-0 at this point. At 145 pounds, powerhouse Kenny Kiser got Saegertown going with a pin in 1:09 over Hickory’s DayMar Trawick. Then Matt Posego received a forfeit at 152.
The 160-pound bout was between Saegertown’s Landon Caldwell and Hickory’s Braelin Stewart, who was off to an 18-3 start to the season before an injury kept him out for the last few weeks.
After the two wrestlers sparred on their feet through the opening minute, the Hornet senior reached out and snapped up Caldwell’s right ankle for a takedown. He then rode him out for a 2-0 lead after one.
Caldwell escaped early in the second to get a point back. But Stewart soon went back to the well, snatching at Caldwell’s right ankle and bringing the Panther back to the mat.
This time, however, Caldwell scrambled against Stewart for the next minute. Finally, Caldwell rolled on top for the two points. And Caldwell would go on to add two three-point near-fall sessions before the period was over, on his way to an 11-2 major.
“Landon is nasty on top,” said Mulligan, “tilts, bars, good stuff
The next big rebound for the Panthers happened a few bouts later at 195.
First, however, Hickory scored its first points of the night when Tacoma Pumphrey defeated Saegertown’s Keenan Schaaf at 170.
But then Jacob Reisinger stretched Saegertown’s lead to 22-3 when he decked Hickory’s Peyton Lawrence in 1:34 at 182 pounds.
Then came 195 — Saegertown’s Robbie Brown vs. Hickory’s Hunter Dunham.
Like Caldwell’s match, the Hickory wrestler struck first, as Dunham finished off a double-leg near the edge of the circle to go up 2-0. The score quickly evened as Dunham was called for locked hands and Brown got back to neutral.
Brown then returned the favor, by taking Dunham to the mat and taking a 4-2 lead. But Brown wasn’t done. He proceeded to aim Dunham’s shoulders to the mat, coaxing an eventual slap from the referee.
The only problem was the ref signaled the pin just as the buzzer went off for the end of the first. So the pin was waved off.
“It was a pin, too, but I’m not going to argue,” said Mulligan. “I thought we’d pin him later in the match.”
Mulligan thought right. Brown pinned Dunham 13 seconds into the second.
“Robbie stepped it up,” Mulligan added.
Saegertown continued to increase its lead six points at a time, as Josh Perrine got a forfeit at 220; Canyon Smith pinned Hickory’s Nicholas Maulie in 3:50 at heavyweight; and Owen Hershelman flattened Soor Patel in 3:04 to win at 106.
“Owen beat a good guy at 106,” said Mulligan. “He’s coming on. That evened his record to 11-11 and we’ve wrestled a really tough schedule.”
Later still, Alex Kightlinger collected a 44-second pin over Jordan Walker at 126 pounds; and Jaden Reagle won a 138-pound battle of the Ja(y)dens over Hickory’s Jayden Rodgers by fall in 1:54 to end the match.
Hickory did enjoy a little spurt towards the end of the night, with Connor Saylor pinning Saegertown’s David Deets in 1:53 at 113; Cody Miller scored a 6-0 win over Brandon Gaus at 120; and Carter Gill working up a 16-0, second-period technical fall over Taylor Schultz at 132.
Saylor is only a freshman for the Hornets. Miller and Gill are both sophomores. In fact, Hickory has just three seniors and one junior on the roster.
“This is the first time this team has made the D-10 duals in a long time,” said Hornets head coach Nick Clepper, whose team dropped to 5-5 on the year. “We’re trying to build that culture in Hickory. And I think I’ve got the core of guys to do it. I’m thrilled about the 8th grade class coming in. As long as these guys stay together and keep progressing, the sky is the limit. It’s up to them.”