The weight of the world rested on the shoulders of 138-pounders Wyatt Nemec from Mead and Dane Frobe of University.
After the nightlong push and shove Wednesday between presumptive Greater Spokane League wrestling favorites, the final spotlight fell on those two with the outcome of match at stake. Nemec couldn’t have asked for better circumstances.
“When you push him he really competes,” Panthers coach Phil McLean said. “It’s a good position for him.”
The junior wrestler scored in all three rounds for a 6-2 victory to clinch the Panthers’ 35-31 escape and give them a leg up in the race for the GSL title.
“You just want to wrestle a normal match,” Nemec said. “You’re here to have fun.”
But how much fun can it be knowing the team outcome rests on you?
“It feels good,” he said. “I expected a tough match and wrestled tough. It’s a match I won’t forget.
Neither will the fans – or coaches’ stomachs, for that matter. Back and forth it went with each team taking unexpected hits, but neutralizing them with bonus points that made this a match for the ages.
“What was crazy was we haven’t seen them that much and so there’s a lot of unknowns,” McLean said. “The one that surprised me most was Kevin (McLean) I don’t thing they were counting on that one.”
Kevin McLean, with tree stump legs made for throws, caught Tyler Burns twice, the second resulting in a second-round pin that brought the house down and a 20-7 Mead lead through six individual tests.
U-Hi stormed back, beginning with Tanner Orndorff’s first-round pin in the following match. It was the first of four straight victories, including freshman star Cam Sorensen’s shocking first-round pin of Panthers veteran Matthew Petrini. That, too, brought the house down and put the Titans up 25-20.
Lighting struck in the form of first-round Mead pins by Max Peterson and Tate LeClair lasting a combined total of 1 minute, 2 seconds.
Trailing 2-0, the Titans’ Reilly Smith worked a cradle for a pin with 21 seconds left in the 132 pound match, cutting the deficit to a point and leaving it up to Nemec to save Mead’s night.
“I think the fans were entertained tonight,” Phil McLean said. “I know I was excited. It was a roller coaster.”
U-Hi coach Don Owen said he didn’t expect his wrestlers to be pinned five times.
“To come into unfriendly confines, Mead wrestled really well,” he said. “It was exciting for the fans and I like the fact they got their money’s worth. I don’t like being on the losing end.”
In other matches: Mt. Spokane (5-1) fell behind 28-7 after Lewis and Clark (1-5) won five straight bouts. But the host Wildcats won five straight for a 43-28 triumph. Freshman Morgan Ruegsegger got them off on the right foot with a win in his first varsity match and Pete Wilkes rallied with seven third-period points for another key victory. … After trading wins with visiting Ferris (1-5) in the first six matches, North Central (3-3) won five of the last eight, with Jacob Clute clinching the 39-27 win with a pin in the final bout. … Ian Smith tested Central Valley state placer Colton Orrino in the night’s first match, but Rogers (1-5) proved no match for the visiting Bears (6-0), losing 63-12. … Five freshmen had pins for Shadle Park (2-4) during a 51-22 victory at Gonzaga Prep (0-6).
Great Northern League
East Valley (2-0), which had shocked defending champion Deer Park to open the season – “They earned it,” Stags coach Matt Jorgensen said last Saturday. “They came to wrestle and we didn’t” – built a 22-0 lead on West Valley (1-1) en route to a 42-30 victory. … Deer Park (1-1) built a 41-point lead on Cheney (0-2) during a 46-27 win … Colville (2-0) routed Pullman (0-1) winning all but one match in the 78-3 blitz.