It was tough times on the varsity wrestling scene at Mexico last Friday.
Tough times for everyone but the host Bulldogs, that is. That’s because as the host of a non-conference quad meet the squad had the good fortune to clock victories over Eldon 53-23, Sullivan 54-12 and Centralia 49-18.
The dual against Eldon didn’t start out that well for Mexico as Carter Maxwell lost by technical fall 18-3 at 106 lbs to Shane Strickland before the squads swapped forfeits. Sophomore Kevin Duong then flipped fate back in the Bulldogs direction at 126 by pinning Aiden Gerber in 1:07 of the first period before the squad won by void at 132 and 138 to take a 24-11 lead. That set the stage for Blayne Weiberg to shine at 145 with a 24-9 technical fall at :44 of the third over Eldon to put extend Mexico’s advantage to 18.
Because the Bulldogs Jaeden Pottebaum then got edged out at 152 in sudden victory 8-6 by Eldon, that cut their lead to 29-14, but once Vinny Vitale at 160 won by pin and the squad won by void at 170, that gap had widened to 41-14. Dawson Brandt did try one last charge at 182 with a win by fall in :34 of the first against Mexico’s Jakob Bradley and Hale Fuemmeler got edged out at 195 in sudden victory by Eldon’s Kaden Dillon, but heavyweight Terrese Aaron’s victory by pin ended that hope rather quickly.
“Terrese likes putting on a show and he’s a really good athlete. He’s got a good run coming up against some state and nationally ranked wrestlers,” said coach Gayle Adams. “This should be a good tune up for what lies ahead for him next week.”
The rest of round one featured Centralia beating Sullivan 51-28.
The next set of duals included the Panthers taking on Eldon and once the forfeits were out of the way Duke Newsted began the real scoring at 126 at 1:58 of the first against Gerber and Centralia’s Grafton Litrell at 152 won at 1:29 of the first to put his team up 24-10. Even though Anthony Stevens of the Panthers did fall at 145, Hunter Phillips came back at 160 to pin Eldon and Nicky O’Toole downed Strickland at 1:16 of the first.
“Newsted wrestled well tonight. He was wrestling up a weight class,” said Centralia coach Luke Gramke. “We’ll feel that out and decide if that’s the right decision once it’s time for districts.”
Elsewhere in round two the Bulldogs got the better of Sullivan 54-18.
That led to a showdown between the two best teams in the building, but just like when Mexico traveled to Centralia last season for a quad meet, there’s a definite disparity between these programs. The reason the Panther’s agreed to these matchups knowing full well what a powerhouse the Bulldogs really are is because of the dividends they hope it pays come time for the postseason.
“Mexico has a phenomenal program right now. They have a rich wrestling tradition and several kids looking for state titles,” Gramke said. “We’re just at a different level right now. We’re a young team. We’re going to show up and work hard. We’ll give people fits on the mat and do our best every time out. We have a lot of kids who are going to be looking at bubble matches come district time. Either they’ll qualify for the state meet or they won’t. We’re training them for that because it’ll big for them.”
That being said, Mexico didn’t hold back in this one and got early pins from Duong at 126 against Newsted and at 132 Dylan Patton won in 1:17 against Austin Dawson. Wieberg also made the highlight reel for the Bulldogs with a 23-7 technical fall against Stevens at 1:38 of the third, Vitale bested Centralia’s Hunter Phillips 4-0 at 160 and at 170 Kellen Ekern was victorious in :44 of the first against Lakota Phillips of the Panthers.
“Ekern was a little flat at first. He was kind of getting his feet back under him,” Adams said. “(Sullivan’s Evan Shetley) is ranked (third) in the state, but he was pushing the pace and good things happened. We got what we wanted.”
Mexico’s Wyatt Turner won by fall at 220 against Sam Lynn, as well, and at 106 Carter Maxwell charted a 19-3 technical fall over the Panther’s O’Toole at :35 of the second.
“Turner put on a little weight during football season and now he’s trimmer and quicker. He’s a tough kid who’s been around for four years now,” said Adams. “Now he wants to medal at the state meet.”
This final dual had two highlights for Centralia that began with Bradley at 182 sneaking past Quentin Foster 3-1. Trevor Bodine also began making a name for himself by getting the better of Fuemmeler 5-2 at 195 to cut the Bulldogs lead to 32-18.
“Foster is a very solid kid who is extremely hard to score on. He stays in good position and works extremely hard in the wrestling room. Whenever he has success it’s very much earned,” Gramke said. “Bodine was very offensive in the first period against Mexico and then kind of shut down after that. He didn’t go after it as much as I thought he would.”
The other dual in round three of the Mexico quad on Friday consisted of Sullivan beating Eldon 54-27.
Now that the rest of the state has been reminded what it takes to actually compete with the Mexico varsity wrestling team, head coach Gayle Adams and crew began spreading that message on a more local level Wednesday during a tri-meet at St. Charles West that also featured Fulton.
As for whether or not the opposition was able to hear what was being said to them, considering the fact the Bulldogs defeated the Hornets 56-24 and their hosts 57-23, the chances appear pretty good.
In the dual against St. Charles West, highlights for Mexico included wins by fall at 126 for Kevin Duong over Trent Busby in 2:36, at 132 Dylan Patton downed Brendan Marshall in :57 and at 152 Jaeden Pottebaum stuck Allen Tinker of St. Charles West in 3:00. The Bulldog's Dillon Nichols also won by sudden victory 9-7 at 138 against Xavian Jackson, Kellen Ekern at 170 pinned Brendan Noack of St. Charles West in 1:25 and at 195 Mexico's Hale Fuemmeler beat Adam Dooley in 3:00.
The Bulldogs also drew wins by void at 113, 220 and 285.
Mexico's dual against Fulton was somewhat similar and featured heavyweight Terrese Aaron winning in 1:03 against Tyrese Vaughn, Ekern bested the Hornet's Sheldyn Johnson in :37 and Nichols charted a 17-2 technical in 4:43 against Solomon Huff at 145. Patton also edged out a 3-1 victory for the Bulldogs at 132 against Fulton's Jacon Kern and Mexico won by forfeit at 113, 126, 152, 160, 195 and 220.
“If we take care of business on Tuesday, we’re going to come in and win the conference title," Adams said. "Before last season we hadn’t won it in 40 years, so it’s nice getting it back-to-back. The kids earned it and they’re putting in the work to earn it again.”