By MIKE SHAFFER
For the Star Beacon
It’s not how you start but how you finish. That was certainly true for the Conneaut wrestling team Tuesday night as they hosted Jefferson and Collinwood for a tri-meet at Garcia Gymnasium.
Jefferson seemed to have the final duel match of the evening in hand as they led by a score of 33-16 with just three matches remaining.
The Spartans however would get falls in the last three matches to earn their second win of the night, 34-33. Both teams defeated Collinwood earlier in the evening. Conneaut won 58-18, while Jefferson defeated the Railroaders 57-12.
The Conneaut-Jefferson match would turn at the 195 match when Matt Barrickman pinned Kevin Orvos.
Then it would be Billy Post who pinned Daniel Gillespie at 220.
And Aleesha Zapitella needed just 31 seconds to pin Victor Toth at 113. All in all the Spartans recorded three pins in 2:11 to earn the win.
“We’ve lost so many close ones this year, I don’t think we’ve won a close match like this all year,” Conneaut coach Matt Bidwell said. “The 195 match was the turning point we had to pin out to win. We did and it was really exciting to see our team fired up the way they were tonight.”
Jefferson did get in on the pin party, as well. The Falcons won the first match against Conneaut with Jerry Scott pinning Cole Walker at 1:56 of the first period.
Jefferson also won at 138 as Logan Platt moved up a class and scored a 4-2 decision over Rodney Hennessey. Platt was wrestling in place of Rick Maple, who is nursing a sprained ankle.
“He’s normally our 132 guy so he moved up a class for us tonight,” Jefferson coach Tom Avsec said. “That was a good match for him because he started out slow, but managed to get two back points in the third period that was the difference in the match.”
CJ Rice got Conneaut’s first win of the night pinning Joey Babic at 1:53 of the first period. Then Austin Sherman followed with a major decision of 12-4 over Zach Collins.
“Rice was able to get it with just seven seconds left in the period and that proved to be big for us,” Bidwell said. “Then Austin comes up with a major decision which is four points. That extra point proved to be the difference in the match.”
Jefferson got a win at 160 when Troy Stitt threw R.J. Nelson late in the second period and was able to get the pin at the 1:58 mark.
“He got the big move there,” said Avsec. “It was an over-under move and he pressured it just right, I was really hoping he could get the pin because sometimes if you don’t get it, you don’t win. When you get your opponent on their back you have to get the pin.”
Also getting pins for Jefferson were Rocky Tripodi at 170 and Blake Perry at 182.
“Rocky wrestled really tough for us,” Avsec said. “For Blake, that’s only his second pin of the year, he’s a guy that doesn’t normally put you on your back.”
Before Jefferson and Conneaut squared off, both teams grappled with Colinwoo, which made the trip east from Cleveland. The Railroaders got pins from Denzel Eskridge during the 132 bout with Conneaut. Then Montori Armstrong recorded a fall in the 113 bout with Jefferson.
Jefferson will start to get ready for the sectional tournament at Lake Catholic next weekend. Conneaut has one more stop at Orange this Friday before they join Jefferson and other local schools next weekend.
Shaffer is a freelance writer from Ashtabula.