BVA wrestlers pin Ringgold
Saying Wednesday's Section 2 AAA Subsection A wrestling match between Ringgold and host Belle Vernon Area was important is an understatement.
The winner would finish second in Subsection A and earn a spot in the WPIAL playoffs whereas the loser would finish third and have to beat the third place team from Section 2 AAA Subsection B to earn the fifth and final playoff spot.
The Leps prevailed with a 43-18 win, and while it looks like the match was a rout, that couldn't be farther from the truth.
“Everyone did what they were supposed to do and it was a blue collar effort,” said BVA coach Jack Jolley. “It turned out our way, but not to take anything from Ringgold because we got a few pins and didn't give up pins.
“They have some tough kids and they will be well represented at sections, and I hope between the two of us well represent the Valley well.”
Ringgold coach Bob Bove agreed.
“We knew that we had to win the close matches but we didn't,” he said. “There were some kids we knew we couldn't beat but give Belle Vernon credit for wrestling well and winning.
“They got bonus points with pins and whatnot and we can't give them up in a match like this.”
The Rams got off to a 3-0 lead at 138 pounds when Jim Baloga downed BVA's Nico Tasser, 5-0.
“We thought we would win (138) and I give Tasser credit because he kept it close,” Bove said. “I thought we could get a few other early bouts and a few others were close and while we knew we couldn't win them all we thought we would get a few more.
“But the score is deceiving and a match here and there is the difference.”
The Leps took the next two matches to grab a 9-6 lead as Derek Verkleeren (145) scored a 6-3 decision over Brendan Heinzelman and Josh Godzen (152) pinned Ringgold's Allan Pritchett in 3:26.
“Josh got us started with the pin and other guys followed up with pins,” Jolley said. “That's doing our job.”
Ringgold's Devin Fallenstein (160) pulled the Rams to with a 9-6 deficit with a thrilling 5-1 overtime win over Austin Bell in the match of the night.
“Devin is one of the best wrestlers in the WPIAL,” Bove said. “We have other guys who will also be there in the end, but tonight we lost our composure and our emotions got us at times.”
The Leps went on a four-match run, including three pinfall wins, to open up a 30-6 lead. Scoring pins for the Leps during the stretch were Milton Kaboly (170) in 57 seconds over Jake Studt, Adam Nickelson (195) in 29 seconds over Eric Higgs and Patrick Mayernik (220) in 5:05 over Richard Heinzelman.
The Leps' other win in the run was a 7-5 overtime decision by Derek DeSalvo (182) over Ryan Natali.
Ringgold took the next two bouts to cut the team score to 30-15 with Taylor Bass (heavyweight) scoring a 3-0 decision over Austin Sluk, and Doug Gudenburr (106) winning by forfeit.
Ringgold needed to capture the last four matches by pin to win, but BVA's Mitch Hartman (113) derailed any hope with a 9-0 major decision over Zach Berger in the next match.
BVA's Brendon Hasson (120) followed with a pin in 1:37 over Aaron McConville and Nate Russo (126) scored a 7-2 decision over Jacob Gerard to make the score 43-18.
Ringgold's Gage Downer (132) closed the scoring with a 1-0 decision over Cam Evans in the last match of the night.
Nickelson, DeSalvo, and Russo, BVA's three seniors, all won on senior night.
“What can you say when we have two 100-match winners (Russo and Nickelson) and another kid who has only wrestled for two years but won a big match (DeSalvo),” Jolley said. “We are going to miss them a lot and they are great leaders.”
Bill Hughes is a freelance writer.