University had just captured a dramatic 33-29 wrestling victory over Central Valley when Andy Roberts handed Mike Clark the femur trophy, emblematic of the first Battle of the Bone between the two district rivals.
“It’s yours, baby,” he told Clark, and indeed it was.
Clark rallied from a 3-0 deficit with nine third-period points, including a takedown and near fall over John Jolley with 47 seconds remaining in the night’s final match to end the encounter dramatically.
The Titans also boned up for a shot at a second straight Greater Spokane League championship when they travel to Gonzaga Prep next Thursday in their season finale.
Normally University’s 178-pounder, Clark was up a weight to 190 and encountered Jolley, wrestling for the first time in a month. The CV senior had a broken hand that was heavily taped for the match.
The move came following Shane Yackel’s pin late in his taut 168-pound match with Jeremy Tiffany. The score was just 2-1 at the time. It was one of four straight victories by the Bears after falling behind 30-9.
“I knew (Jolley) hadn’t wrestled in a long time and knew if Clark could press and get to the third round the odds were better (for a win),” said Titans coach Don Owen.
Because The Bone was at stake, as well as the possibility for at least a piece of the league title for either team, this match drew a capacity crowd to the University gym.
Jeff Schmedding won an early biggie for the Titans, followed by a trade of pins.
Then Craig Bishop reversed CV’s John Reese to his back in the third round for a pivotal 6-4 victory in a match between two of the league’s better 108-pounders to start U-Hi off to its big lead.
But CV came flying back, beginning with Loren Kitner’s stunning head-and-arm move and 6-3 win with less than a minute remaining at 148 pounds.
The Bears trailed just 30-29 heading into the final contest, thanks to a technical fall and successive pins by Yackel and Joe Thiefault at 178.
He would have been Clark’s foe, except for that 168-pound outcome.
“It was monstrous,” said Owen. “If we had not given up more than three points, I could have wrestled Clark straight up.
Clark said that having the pressure on him in a final match is nothing new.
“It happened to me before in the state Dream Duals,” he said.
When he got behind 3-0, “I knew I could get back in it. I knew I just had to get out and go.”
Owen said it was a great credit to the senior wrestler.
“Until two weeks ago, he was not sucking it up in the last 2 minutes of his matches,” said Owen. “I believe he’s turned the corner.”
And University, which hasn’t lost to CV in the 1990s, earned The Bone.
Elsewhere, Beau Chandler’s upset pin over Shaun McMackin at 168 keyed Mead’s 42-27 comeback win at Rogers. Rogers (1-5) led 27-17 after Kris Clarke’s 9-7 win over Shawn Gumke, but the Panthers (4-2) won the last five matches, all by at least a major decision.
At Lewis and Clark, Ferris wins at 141 and 148 and an LC forfeit at 215 helped the Saxons (3-4) squeak by 33-30. Ferris also beat LC (1-5) by three last year. Brian Lehrman (101) of the Tigers improved to 6-0 with a technical fall. Josh Richard of LC beat cousin Rob 12-3 at 129.
At North Central, David Sandberg’s 2-1 win over Sabino Hernandez at 190 highlighted the Indians’ 52-15 win over Shadle Park (0-6). Casey Beville (148) of NC (4-3) had a quick pin to improve his league record to 6-1. Shawn Howard (122) and Casey Laughary (135) won for the Highlanders.