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Plum wrestlers edge North Hills in Section 3-AAA thriller on complicated criterion

| Wednesday, Jan. 8, 2014, 11:03 p.m.
Erica Dietz | Valley News Dispatch
Plum's Stephen Turchick holds down North Hills' Eli Swain during the 285-pound match at Plum O'Block Junior High School in Plum on Wednesday, Jan. 8, 2014.
Erica Dietz | Valley News Dispatch
Plum's Tony Dininno places a hold on North Hills' John MacPherson during the 106-pound match at Plum O'Block Junior High School in Plum on Wednesday, January 8, 2014.

Before the outcome of Wednesday night's wrestling match between Plum and North Hills became a matter of complicated tiebreaker criteria, it hinged on a simple-to-grasp mission for Mustangs senior heavyweight Stephen Turchick.

Turchick's task: Pin North Hills senior Eli Swain.

He needed almost two and half periods to complete his mission, but Turchick managed to turn Swain on his back in the second-to-last bout of the night and secured a pin that provided Plum the final six points in its Section 3-AAA subsection B victory, which, with the score tied at 36 and all 14 weight classes complete, came down to criterion H, the rulebook's eighth tiebreaker for dual meets.

“I was really nervous, especially watching all the matches before me,” said Turchick, who improved to 18-2 with 11 pins. “I knew it had to get done. I tried snapping him down, and it didn't work. I tried taking him down, and I only got him once. The third period, I kind of had a heavyweight mentality and laid on him, and it ended up working out.”

Criteria H centered on these facts: Plum and North Hills (5-4, 3-1) each scored first in six bouts, but the Mustangs accumulated 12 points in bouts in which they scored first, and the Indians had 11 points.

“I thought maybe our heavyweight could get out from bottom one more time, but Turchick, he's the one that changed everything,” North Hills coach Jose Martinez said. “Once he pinned our guy, I knew it was going to criteria.”

The one-point difference in first points scored stemmed from the 220-pound bout in which North Hills senior Mike Bonsmann opened scoring with a second-period escape.

Three times in the match, the wrestler who scored first ultimately lost the bout. Early offense paid off for North Hills' David Tuzikow (152), who lost to Zach Martin, 9-7, in overtime. On the flipside, first-period takedowns mattered for Plum's Nick Meyers (138), who lost by pinfall to David Badamo, and for Tony Dininno (106), who dropped the match's final bout, 5-4, to John MacPherson.

MacPherson, a freshman, scored a takedown with 51 seconds left in the third period to take the lead in his win, which created the need for the match-deciding tiebreakers.

North Hills finished with five pins, while Plum had three, so the Indians could've won the match on a simpler criterion had they not also forfeited the 120- and 126-pound weight classes — the rulebook's fifth tiebreaker awards a match to the team with more points accumulated through falls, forfeits, defaults and disqualifications.

“When you first look at a lineup and you see that they have spaces, you think, ‘Well, I'm getting 12 points,' ” Plum coach Mike Supak said. “But when you know the quality of wrestlers they have and where they're at, we knew it'd definitely be a tough matchup for us.”

Martinez believed the forfeits might actually become a slight advantage for North Hills.

“I knew that with them getting two forfeits, we might get the edge on first (points),” Martinez said, “because then they couldn't score.”

Bill West is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at wwest@tribweb.com or via Twitter @BWest_Trib.

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