Special to the Tribune-Star
TERRE HAUTE —
Even though Terre Haute South defeated Terre Haute North 39-27 in high school wrestling Wednesday evening in the Patriots’ gym, there was a time early in the match when the outcome appeared in doubt.
After South’s David Lewis opened with a 4-2 victory over the formidable J.J. Low in the 120-pound weight class, North answered with pins by Eric Elia at 126 and Austin Bishop at 132 to seize a 12-3 advantage.
Then in the 138-pound match, North’s Brandon Cossette jumped ahead of South sophomore Nick Church 2-1 after one period and 3-1 during the second period. If that score had remained the same, North’s team lead would have increased to 15-3.
But Church scored a pin at the 3:32 mark, pulling the Braves within 12-9. A pin at 145 by Ian Newton in the next match catapulted the visitors on top 15-12 and they never trailed after that.
“I was waiting for [Cossette] to come at me more so I could do a whipover,” Church told the Tribune-Star. “Then I just stayed on top of him and kept the pressure on. … I had beaten this kid before, so I had some confidence. I was pretty confident with what I was doing.”
“He came out and got himself in a little bit of a jam early,” South coach Gabe Cook admitted about Church. “But he stayed in there, fought hard and got the win. … Nick actually stood up and caught the guy in a whipover. From there, it was just a matter of staying in good position and not letting him slip away.”
After Newton’s victory came arguably the most entertaining match of the night — North’s Tyler Gilmore vs. South’s Phoenix Adams. Gilmore entered with 24 wins for the season, while Adams came in with 26.
Gilmore led 2-0 after the first period, 4-2 after the second period and 7-2 early in the third and final period before Adams cut his deficit to the final score of 7-6.
“Tyler had a really tough opponent,” North coach Mark Frisz said. “Phoenix is good — two good guys and a lot of action there.”
But South bounced back with a pin by senior Cody Helms (now 29-4 for the season) in less than a minute at 160 and a forfeit triumph for Duane Deerwester at 170 to boost its lead to 27-15.
“Cody hit a high-crotch finish to a double-leg and put the guy in a cross-face cradle,” Cook explained. “Those are two of his signature moves, I guess you could say.”
Decision victories by Ryan Moshak at 182 and Zach Schmidt at 195 pulled the Patriots within 27-21.
Then the home team tied the score at 27-27 on its “Senior Night” when junior Ethan Edington pinned Jordan Montgomery at the 3:40 mark of a hard-fought match at 220. But former North student and first-year wrestler Junior Berry returned momentum to South by registering a 9-7 decision over Andrew Londo in the 285 class.
“Junior’s getting better every week,” Cook mentioned. “He’s still kind of figuring things out on the mat and he’s had kind of a nagging injury that’s kept him out a little bit. … But he’s figuring out the sport as he competes every week.”
The Braves turned that 30-27 cushion into 36-27 when North forfeited to South standout Ryan Uppal at 106. Knowing they would bring home “The Hammer of Pride” trophy for the third straight year, they watched teammate Darin Pemberton win the final match of the night by a 6-2 decision at 113.
“It was definitely a team effort,” Cook emphasized after posing with the rest of the team for parent photos. “Even the weights we lost, those kids went out and fought hard… The scores were about what I thought they would be. Maybe I thought we could have won one or two more matches. But the effort was there from the first match to the last match.”
“It feels pretty great,” admitted Church, who didn’t experience the same joy as a freshman in 2012 because he missed all of last season with an injury.
From the North perspective, Frisz said he was “pleased and proud” with the way his athletes competed.
“We knew we were going to have to make up some points somewhere [because of the two forfeits],” he noted. “It’s hard to get pins in these rivalry matches. But the kids did what we asked them to do. They wrestled as hard as they could and showed a lot of determination.”
Both teams will participate in the Metropolitan Interscholastic Conference (MIC) tournament Saturday at Warren Central.
“I really feel like we’ve got a good shot at having our best finish we’ve had at the MIC,” Cook assessed. “So having a win [over North] going into that should help us. On paper, it looks like we should have four or five guys in the finals this weekend.”
“I think South’s got some really good kids seeded highly,” Frisz added. “I think they could place pretty high. … We’re going to have to pull some upsets probably [in order to place high], but I know our kids will compete really hard and do the best they can.”
Terre Haute South 39, Terre Haute North 27
120 — David Lewis (THS) dec. J.J. Low 4-2.
126 — Eric Elia (THN) pin. George Reed 0:22.
132 — Austin Bishop (THN) pin. Dante Johnson 4:43.
138 — Nick Church (THS) pin. Brandon Cossette 3:32.
145 — Ian Newton (THS) pin. Logan Hoar 3:00.
152 — Tyler Gilmore (THN) dec. Phoenix Adams 7-6.
160 — Cody Helms (THS) pin. Trey Grim 0:59.
170 — Duane Deerwester (THS) won by forfeit.
182 — Ryan Moshak (THN) dec. Sean Young 7-5.
195 — Zach Schmidt (THN) dec. Chris Rawling 5-1.
220 — Ethan Edington (THN) pin. Jordan Montgomery 3:40.
285 — Junior Berry (THS) dec. Andrew Londo 9-7.
106 — Ryan Uppal (THS) won by forfeit.
113 — Darin Pemberton (THS) dec. Gavin John 6-2.
There were no JV matches.
Next — South (20-9) and North (8-16) will compete in the Metropolitan Interscholastic Conference tournament Saturday at Warren Central.