Despite heading into Wednesday night's Colonial League match at Palmerton with five wins in seven league matches, Northwestern Lehigh wrestling coach Jim Moll thought that there were at least five bouts that could go either way.
Little did he know that his team, missing a few starters in Michael Ortiz, Dylan Long and Eddie Faust, would win all of the tossups and grab a 42-24 victory from the host Blue Bombers.
"Of the five bouts that I felt were tossups, we were able to win all five of them," said Moll afterwards. "Our guys wrestled well. We're missing a few guys so we wrestled with a kind of 'backs against the wall' attitude. The guys really responded well."
With Alec Eidelman giving the Tigers a quick 6-0 lead with a forfeit win at 285 at the start, the Bombers went to work after a double forfeit at 103 when Shane Grohotolski took down David Grace and pinned him in 1:15 to tie things up.
Then the fun started.
Palmerton head coach Dave Lavin threw the first trump card out when he sent Dillon Massington out to face Michael Hontz, who Moll bumped down to 119.
Hontz wound up pulling out a 6-5 decision with an escape and a reversal in the final two minutes to counter Massington's reversal and two back points.
"We tried to get Hontz against (Sam Oberlander, but they kind of gave us the switcheroo there. It worked out in our favor with Hontz getting the win and Ethan Keichel wrestling a phenomenal match to beat Oberlander at 125."
Only a late escape by Oberlander in the waning seconds kept Keichel from a major decision as he won out 10-3.
Dustin Badesso followed with a convincing 8-2 decision over Dallas Miata at 130, to win another tossup battle for the Tigers, giving them a 15-6 advantage. Badesso trailed 2-0 after the first period, but picked up three back points in the second period when Miata started on the bottom. He never trailed after that adding a reversal and back points in the final two minutes to seal it.
With everything going in his favor, Moll decided to let the Bombers' Cody Grohotolski win by forfeit at 135 and bumped up Brandon Miller to 140.
The move paid off as Miller pinned Palmerton's Tony Gardo in 3:16 and the Tigers had a 21-12 lead entering the showdown at 145 between Northwestern's Bobby Clymer (18-3) and Palmerton's Dan Costenbader (17-2).
Both wrestlers battled through a scoreless first period. then it was Clymer who scored the only points of the battle 25 seconds into the middle period on a reversal, who took control and held Costenbader down through the rest of the period and the final two minutes.
Mike Englert gave the Bombers a little hope as his 48-second fall of Jake Moyer cut the Northwestern lead to 24-18, but Levi Veppert at 160 and Mike Sorenson at 171 recorded first period falls to put the win away.
Kane Kralik pinned Northwestern's Joe Walker in 2:42 at 189 for the final Bomber points and the Tigers' David Tirpak won by forfeit at 215 to end it.
"We came off a good weekend at the Parkland duals, wrestling very well going 5-0," said Moll. "I was glad to see it continue here tonight."
Lavin, on the other hand, was disappointed in his team's performance.
"They won the swing matches," agreed Lavin. "Not only did they win them, they won them with bonus points. Giving up the pins takes you out of the match when you're forfeiting weights like we are. That's what I'm trying to get them mentally prepared in dual meets that they need to earn the bonus points and no matter what they can't give them up."
Northwestern 42, Palmerton 24
103 - Double forfeit
112 - Shane Grohotolski (P) pinned David Grace in 1:15
119 - Michael Hontz (NW) dec. Dillon Massington 6-5
125 - Ethan Keichel (NW) dec. Sam Oberlander 10-3
130 - Dustin Badesso (NW) dec. Dallas Miata 8-2
135 - Cody Grohotolski (P) won by forfeit
140 - Brandon Miller (NW) pinned Tony Gardo in 3:26.
145 - Bobby Clymer (NW) dec. Dan Costenbader 2-0
152 - Michael Englert (P) pinned Jake Moyer in :48
160 - Levin Veppert (NW) pinned Travis Verzino in 1:24
171 - Kyle Sorenson (NW) pinned Kawicka Mook in 1:26
189 - Kane Kralik (P) pinned Joe Walker in 2:42
215 - David Tirpak (NW) won by forfeit
*285 - Alec Eidelman (NW) won by forfeit