Team effort lifts Gateway to nonsection victory at playoff qualifier Ringgold
Ringgold was a WPIAL team playoff qualifier out of Section 2-AAA, but last week, Gateway wrestlers came together for a close victory over the Rams.
Every point was valuable, and bonus points earned — and bonus points not given up — were key.
Gateway won 32-31 on criteria — most pins — after the match ended in a tie.
“Everybody pitched in,” Gateway head coach R.J, Santilli said. “A couple of guys, even though they didn't get wins, they avoided getting pinned which, saved bonus points. Ultimately, that was the difference in the match. A lot of guys came through in that match.”
Austin Davidson (170), Cody Pawkowski (195) and Dom McKenna (220) each scored pinfall victories for Gateway.
Davidson improved to 21-8 on the season, and he stands as the team leader in victories this season.
Tyler Boehm earned Gator-of-the-Match honors, despite a 16-2 loss to Ringgold junior Brandon Heinzelman at 145.
It was the final match of the evening, and Gateway led 31-27 at that point.
A major decision or pin in Heinzelman's favor would have given the match to the Rams.
Heinzelman improved to 23-7 on the season.
“Tyler faced a wrestler who was well above average,” Santilli said. “It would've been easy for him to not fight as hard and give up the pin. But he fought the whole six minutes and stayed off his back. He knew what was expected and what he needed to do.”
Santilli said Justin Leone and Tony DeFazio, who faced tough wrestlers at 132 and 160, respectively, also fought hard to not get pinned and saved points for the Gators.
A.J. Wilkins returned to the mat against Ringgold, wrestling for the first time since December because of injury, and he scored a 10-2 decision win over Rams junior Zach Burger at 113.
The major decision put one bonus point in the Gateway column, and Wilkins, a past section champion and WPIAL qualifier, improved to 7-1 on the season.
“A.J. looked strong, but he also was a little rusty with six weeks off,” Santilli said. “He's going to have to get his timing down and get back into competition shape.”
Jaymar Parrish picked up two wins last week in his return to the mat from a broken ankle. Included in that was a 7-3 victory at heavyweight over Ringgold 20-match winner Taylor Bass.
“Jaymar looks healthy and feels good. He still needs some conditioning, like A.J., to get back into that competition shape,” Santilli said.
“It's tough to get that in practice. He had two quality opponents and wins last week. It's great to have (A.J. and Jaymar) back.”
Malik Shuman (182) and Thaer Shouman (120) earned close decision wins for the Gators against Ringgold.
Gateway was slated to host Elizabeth Forward on senior night Wednesday at Gateway's Furrie Sports Complex.
Wilkins, Parrish, Boehm, McKenna, Shuman and Mike Limbacher were to be honored before the match.
The match was to be contested past the deadline for this week's edition.
Gateway closes out dual-match competition Friday at Pine-Richland at 7 p.m.
The Gators will host the Section 1-AAA tournament on Feb. 23 at 9 a.m.
Michael Love is a staff writer with Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-388-5825 or at email@example.com.