In any match between two good teams, the deciding factors come down to swing matches, bonus points, and unsung heroes.
Last night, the Pleasant Valley Bears had their share of all three as they reclaimed the Mountain Valley Conference championship with their 30-27 win over Stroudsburg on senior night.
"The big bonus was at heavy weight. That was a huge turning point," Coach Mark Getz said. "That was a toss-up bout it could have gone either way."
Down 4-0 to start the night, Mike Benner stepped into the circle against Cody Cooper who had pinned him in their last meeting in last year's dual meet.
"For the past three days that's all I could think about was him," Benner said. "All I wanted to do this year was to get him back."
A minute into the bout, Benner took Cooper down to his hip and catching his arm in a bar. Spinning behind, Benner ran the bar and Cooper to his back for the takedown and the stunning pin.
"When he shot on me and I blocked it and scored my two," Benner said. "I knew right then and there that it wasn't going to end well for him."
The win launched the Bears into winning five of the next bouts, extending a 6-4 lead into a 27-7 major advantage. The two decisions, a major decision, a technical fall, and a pin gave the Bears just enough cushion to hold off the mighty-Mountie comeback.
The key match in the run was the 132 bout. Ernest Klingle battled Stroudsburg's Mike Cassano and a hobbled knee. As the match wound down Klingle scored a takedown and three back points as the clock ran out for an 11-3 major decision and the key bonus points.
Down 30-10 with four bouts remaining, Stroudsburg (14-3, 5-1) made a charge. Scoring a technical fall at 160 and a fall at 170, the Mounties seemed poised to make the improbable comeback to steal the trophy and win their fourth straight title.
Unsung heroes Hunter Diehl (182) and Aaron Brewer (195) would have none of that. Heavily out matched at their weights, the two wrestled as hard and as smart as they could. When Diehl went down without surrendering bonus points in a 9-3 decision, the championship was left in Brewer's hands.
Brewer frustrated his much stronger opponent, Robbie Karstendiek who was only able to muster four take downs on Brewer. Despite losing the match 8-2, he clinched the league championship in what senior teammate Alex Yannovich called "an upset loss".
"The kids had a lot of pride and a lot of guts and came out and wrestled hard and that is what we needed to do to this team," Getz said.
For seniors like Yanovich, there is a sense of accomplishment that he had not felt as a wrestler. As he and his fellow seniors became members of the varsity team, Pleasant Valley had been crowned league champs for six straight seasons. That came to an end with a controversial 32-30 loss to Stroudsburg.
"The loss our freshman year was heart wrenching," Yanovich recalled three straight losses to Stroudsburg, "Tonight, everyone wrestled tough, we wrestled the best that we have all year."
Up next, Pleasant Valley (17-2, 6-0) will face Northampton with a chance to set the school record for most wins in a season.
"It's been a long process," Getz said. "Like Stroudsburg, we put a lot of time in it over the summer. These kids since they were freshman have put a lot of time into it. It's nice to get the win for them.
Pleasant Vy. 30, Stroudsburg 27
220 - Keyautay Aulder (S) maj. dec. Dom Ammirato (PV) 15-7
285 - Mike Benner (PV) pinned Cody Cooper (S) 1:18
106 - Kenny Yanovich (PV) dec Shane Jones (S) 9-3
113 - Sean Bianco (PV) pinned Manny Flores (S) 1:46
120 - Gusseppe Rea (S) dec James Felipa (PV) 6-3
126 - Mike Dahlstrom (PV) dec Jeff Hernandez (S) 7-1
132 - Ernest Klingle (PV) maj. dec Mike Cassano (S) 11-3
138 - Alex Yanovich (PV) tech. fall Brain Morales (S) 20-5; 5:32
145 - Jason Berger (S) dec. Joell Toledo (PV) 1-0.
152 - David Gehr (PV) dec. Keith Howe (S) 5-1
160 - Joe Palmissano (S) tech fall Nick Martucci (PV) 15-0;
170 - Aaron Transue (S) pinned Darquise Harper (PV) 2:31
182 - Ryan Barry (S) dec Hunter Deihl (PV) 9-3
195 - Robbie Karstendiek (S) dec. Aaron Brewer (PV) 8-2