Long ago, true dual meets became an endangered species in high school wrestling.
Instead of scheduling an event with just one other team, coaches began sending their squads to invitationals where they'd get seven or eight matches in a weekend.
So, in a sense, Friday night's dual between Clay and visiting Central Catholic was a bit old school.
A spotlight was lowered to above the center of the mat. A disc jockey played music, both old school and new school. Heck, even Clay's mascots dressed as Eagles made an appearance.
To Clay's Matt Kohler, this electric atmosphere would be an excellent setting for a big win.
"Especially when it's at home," he said. "You feel so much more excited because you feel like you have to win."
Kohler lived by those words in his 140-pound bout, securing two takedowns within the final 43 seconds to beat Central's Sam Viengmany. Kohler's win coupled with a few other pivotal victories by his teammates were instrumental in Clay's 40-24 victory in a matchup of two teams ranked eighth in the state in their respective divisions.
The Eagles, who compete in D-I, won nine matches to five, and put the meet away with one bout left when Chico Cloyne scored a pin at 171. The dual began at 215.
Clay's Garrett Gray, left, takes down Central Catholic's Levi Pickerel in overtime of their 285-pound match. Gray secured the 5-3 victory when Pickerel slipped while trying a roll move.
"It was a very high level match between the two teams, which is really good for northwestern Ohio," Central coach Doc Leffler said. "I think the caliber of wrestling is developing to the point where you're going to have these kinds of tough matches between these tough teams throughout the area."
Kohler beat Viengmany on three consecutive weekends last year — league, sectional, and district — but trailed 4-2 entering the third period. He tied the match with 43 seconds left on a takedown and then took the lead with nine seconds to go, securing two points at the edge of the mat to win 6-5.
"I felt really good that third period," Kohler said. "All of that extra running and practice helped.
With Kohler's win, Clay went ahead 22-12. From there, the final five matches ended in pin.
If Kohler-Viengmany wasn't the match of the night, then that honor belonged to an unlikely duo — the heavyweights. Unable to finish a shot with 15 seconds left in regulation, a persistent Garrett Gray of Clay used the same single-leg maneuver to take down Levi Pickerel with one second left, sending the match into overtime.
Gray ultimately won 5-3 on a near effortless takedown, scored when Pickerel attempted a low-percentage roll from his feet.
"I didn't see it coming," Gray said. "I watched it on camera. It was like a gator roll and he just kind of slipped. I didn't even know what happened. I just jumped on top of him and said, let's end this."
Central Catholic's D.J. Beauch, left, tries to escape from Clay's Damon Dominique in their 145-pound match. Beauch won by pin.
From there, Central's Matt Pool used a five-point move in the first period to punctuate a 7-3 win over Nick McNutt, cutting Clay's lead to 7-3.
At 112, Clay coach Gerry Anthony started pushing buttons, and the results were positive. Jared Davis, who will wrestle off McNutt at 103, bumped up a class and won 8-2 over Central second-stringer Zachary Kern. At 119, usual 112-pounder Mike Screptock shut out respected freshman Alex Mossing, 4-0. With five matches in the books, Clay led 13-3.
"We knew it was going to be tough to win at 103 [regardless]," Anthony said.
Central was without starters Nigel Cramer at 112, and Jason Mossing at 152. The Irish dropped a combined 10 points in those weights. Clay was without 160-pound starter Eddie Silva, whose replacement Devin Dominique, fought through an illness to compete but couldn't fight off of his back, as he was pinned by Irish state place winner Tony Martin in 5:48.
Central's other two senior standouts, Chase Leedy (125) and D.J. Beauch (145), also registered falls.
Clay junior Angelo Amenta notched his 100th career win with a technical fall at 130. Also winning by pin for Clay was Nick Stencel (152) and Brandon Veler (189).
Other winners were Central's Alex Padilla (135) and Clay's Shane Gaghen (215).
Contact Ryan Autullo at: email@example.com or 419-724-6160.
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