There were reasons why East Valley was favored in Greater Spokane League wrestling.
Even though the Knights settled for a third-place tie, those reasons were on display during Thursday night’s league-ending 31-26 victory at previously unbeaten University.
It was a matchup of teams that featured individual strengths in common weight classes. EV got the better of it during three state-tournament-caliber battles.
At 152 pounds, featuring returning state placers, Chris Tripplet’s takedown in the third overtime pulled out a 7-6 triumph over Ryan Zumwalt.
In back-to-back contests at 103 and 112, EV freshman Nick Sweeney picked off U-Hi sophomore standout Brandon Matlock 5-2, and Keith Babington, in another match between state placers, came from underneath out of a cradle and tossed Tyler Clark to his back for five points and, ultimately, an 8-5 victory.
That one clinched the victory for the Knights.
“There’s a lot of parity in league this year,” EV coach Craig Hanson said. “That’s the way it is.”
U-Hi (9-1) will likely be tied for first by Mead, which concludes its season with Lewis and Clark tonight. The Knights and Central Valley wound up tied at 8-2, with all four teams taking at least one loss from another.
Hanson said the schedule, which pitted U-Hi back to back against the CV Bears and Knights, had to have been emotionally draining for the Titans.
U-Hi coach Don Owen concurred, saying he was not sure too many teams would be at their best on successive nights under those circumstances.
Still, the outcome hinged on Tripplet’s 152-pound win over Zumwalt as the Knights bolted to a 19-3 lead early with a pair of pins and major decision.
“We were hoping to win with Zumie,” Owen said. “When we lost that, we were in tough shape.”
The two battled for three periods and then some. Zumwalt’s takedown with 26 seconds remaining forced the extra 11/2 minutes.
They were scoreless through two overtime rounds. Zumwalt escaped in the third, but Tripplet stayed at it.
“He was tough on his feet, but I just came out on top,” Tripplet said. “Coach said coming out here to keep working hard and we could win it.”
U-Hi did get two matches back, including Dustin Johnson’s 4-3 victory at 171 over Nic Price in another match between standouts.
Dalton Cosby’s 2-0 victory at 285 got U-Hi back in it with four matches remaining, but Sweeney and Babington came through.
“I felt those were tossups, but thought they were matches we were going to win,” Hanson said. “They also could have gone the other way.”
Owen said he was proud of the way his young team performed in sharing the GSL title.
“They’ve given me a lot this year,” he said.
In other GSL matches: At Mead, the Panthers throttled district rival Mt. Spokane (5-5) 53-10. Freshman Jordan Rogers, and juniors Jacob Trotter and Ben Snow remained unbeaten in league with pins. … North Central (4-6) topped Shadle Park (3-7) 40-29 at home with state placers Jared Berlinger and Nathan Brown putting on the finishing touches. … Ferris (6-4) beat Lewis and Clark (2-7) for King of the Hill at home. The Saxons won the final six matches to pull away. Ferris’ Abe Minkler beat Austin Holzer in overtime 5-3 after he was called for a stall that tied the match. LC’s Peter Van Voorhis trailing at 189 with 30 seconds left, threw Ian Bauman for a 9-5 win. … Rogers (1-9) topped host Gonzaga Prep (0-10) 59-22, scoring 29 points with wins in five matches between 119 and 130.
Great Northern League: Cheney (3-3) had six pins to beat Pullman (0-7) 57-15.
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