Graham wrestlers pin Highlanders
HUNTINGTON -- Huntington High got reversals in two of four matches from a year ago in its well-publicized dual against Ohio Division II power Graham on Saturday night at Lucas-Archer Gymnasium.
Not enough, though, as the Falcons won six of the final seven matches to pull away for a 44-20 victory over the Highlanders and improve to 3-0 in the series between the two schools.
"We knew it was going to be work," Graham coach Jeff Jordan said. "We tried to take the fight to them, but it took a long time."
Graham, located in St. Paris, Ohio, saw a 19-3 lead dwindle to 19-15 when Huntington High's Billy Waldeck (138 pounds) and Justin Arthur (145) won their matches by pin. Alex Marinelli stopped the run by the Highlanders with a 13-3 win over Paden Christian and senior Bo Jordan, who's seeking a fourth straight Ohio state title and has signed with Ohio State, pinned Stefan Gibbs at 160 and the Falcons were on their way.
Bo is the coach's son as is Micah Jordan, who won by pin at 132 and is seeking a third state title.
"We were really good in spots and really bad in spots," Huntington High coach Rob Archer said. "Too many downs. Guys have to realize that's a G (Graham) on their jersey, not an S (Superman)."
Waldeck's pin over Nate Henkle reversed an 11-10 loss a year ago. Jordan Allen got the other turnaround with an 8-4 win over Eli Seipel at 113. Seipel won last year's match, 5-2.
"I said, 'guys we've got to pick up the pace or we're going to lose to Huntington,' " coach Jordan said. "Justin (Arthur) put the hammer down. I was worried. The guys responded."
Huntington High, ranked No. 1 in Class AAA in the first West Virginia Coaches Association poll, returns to action on Thursday at Ripley.
The Falcons, ranked No. 1 in Ohio Division II and No. 20 nationally by Amateur Wrestling News, return to action next weekend in the Walsh Ironman Invitational in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio. They'll also be seeking their 13th straight state championship.
"It's a great feeling," Allen said of his win. "They're all so strong. We lost some tight ones. It shows we have to go back and work harder."
Waldeck and Arthur enjoyed their moments, but not the final outcome. Graham won, 64-3, in 2010 and, 50-13, last year. Both matches were at home.
"I got physical at the end," Waldeck said. "I had a chip on my shoulder. I had to come back and prove myself. We did well in some spots, and not so well in others. We have to continue to work."
"It's not what we wanted," said Arthur, two-time state champion who's signed to wrestle at Clarion University. "There are some things we have to fix. We have to be more mentally prepared."