St. Francis de Sales trailed Springfield by 1.5 points heading into the final round of the Division I wrestling sectional Saturday night at Start.
And the Knights had the competition right where they wanted.
St. Francis, which had seven wrestlers competing in finals, didn't take long to surpass Springfield en route to winning the championship with 196.5 points to the Blue Devils' 184.5.
St. Francis had five individual champions and two runners-up.
"Basically, we wrestled like we were seeded in the finals," St. Francis coach Carl Janke said. "We had five No. 1 seeds win and two who finished runner-up.
"I'm really proud of them. It was a great team effort."
Devon McGibbeny (103),
Jacob Martin (112), Alex Marzec (119), Mike McCarthy (130) and Aaron Dietsch (135) won titles to lead St. Francis to victory.
Janke said the sectional championship is the first for the Knights during his 31 years at St. Francis.
"We've been runner-up many times and third place before, but we've never won it," he said. "Our kids have had a really good work ethic all season and they've continued to improve."
St. John's Jesuit was third at 182.5, while Southview at 129 and Waite at 127.5 rounded out the top five.
Springfield's Aaron Ferguson (140) and Gary Times (285) earned titles to lead the Blue Devils.
"We have nine guys heading to the district tournament and that's a big accomplishment for any team," Springfield coach Tim Dishong said. "We lost some tough matches that could have helped us a bit."
Springfield junior Garrett Manley, a defending sectional champion, lost for the second time this season to Martin, a freshman, who pulled out a 2-0 victory.
"Coach told us this was a total team effort," Martin said. "He told us if we went out and did our best we'd come out on top."
McGibbeny started the Knights' run to the championship when he pinned AW's Shain Ruhl at the 3:50 mark of the opening match.
"You really try to set it off for the team," said 103-pounder McGibbeny, a freshman. "If you do good, then hopefully, the rest of the team will do good."
McCarthy posted a technical fall victory after having little trouble defeating AW's Zach Seifert 15-0 in the 130-pound match.
Dietsch followed at 135 and delivered the Knights' fifth win in the finals by stopping St. John's David Blattman by 15-0 for another technical fall.
"I was hoping to get a pin again to help the team out," said Dietsch, who pinned Blattman earlier this season.
Ferguson became the Blue Devils' first champion of the night when he stopped St. John's Jack Reindel 17-2. He admitted he was confident going into the finals against Reindel, who was a former teammate at Springfield.
"I came in expecting to win sectionals," said Ferguson, who improved to 32-2 for the season. "I knew I could take him down really easily. I could have pinned him."
Times closed out the finals matches by stopping Start's Anthony Byrd by a 6-2 count.
Greg Isley (189) and Jake Staebler (215) provided Southview with two individual champions. Isley ran his record to 22-0 with a pin of Waite's Tyler Benton at the 1:56 mark before Staebler followed by outlasting Whitmer's Corey Compton for a 5-4 win.
Isley, who missed the start of the season with an injury, claimed his third straight sectional title after finishing as a sectional runner-up as a freshman.
"I feel like I'm in pretty good shape, but you can always get in even better shape," said Isley, a state runner-up a year ago.
AW's Bill Irwin advanced to the district tournament as a
No. 1 seed after pinning Whitmer's Brock Skelding at the 1:25 mark of the 125-pound final.
"I really wasn't expecting that," Irwin said of his finals pin. "It was easier than I thought."
Whitmer's Josh Sandlin stopped Springfield's T.J. Arthur by pulling off an 8-7 decision at 145.
St. John's Corey Greenwade trailed St. Francis' Sam Horvath by a couple of points before he capitalized on a mistake by Horvath to record a pin at the 3:39 mark of the 152-pound final.
Northview's Eric Brown pinned St. Francis' Joe Janke at 2:31 in the 160 match before Start's Nate Brubaker defeated Springfield's Rick Meek 6-1.
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