Hutter Gymnasium became standing-room only as the dual between the Augusta and Andover Central wrestling teams wore on.
The Jaguars had a 28-6 lead halfway through the lineup, but the Orioles won five straight for a 34-28 lead with the crowd noise getting louder with each win. Central stopped the streak with a pin to tie the match at 34-34 with one bout left.
So it all came down to Augusta's Jake Ehrlich and Central's Tyler Craig at the 285-pound weight class.
Ehrlich led 2-0 after the second period after a critical penalty and an escape. As time wore down in the third, Craig took some good shots, but Ehrlich was able to flip flop the momentum and take down Craig to ignite the hometown cheers. Ehrlich won 4-0 and lifted Augusta to a 37-34 victory.
“I was just listening to the coaches. The coaches knew what I had to do,” Ehrlich said. “I was just making sure I had everything down perfect.”
After the teams exchanged handshakes, the Orioles corralled Ehrlich in celebration of a big victory against one of the top-ranked teams in Class 5A.
“It's a great feeling. Our kids battled, and they did what they had to do to get the job done,” coach Brandon Terry said.
The Orioles had to rally after the Jaguars took control early. Jake Goldenstein (106) cradled Gregory Bentley in the first 40 seconds for a pin to start the dual, but Central won five straight matches. Three-time state champion and No. 1 ranked Zac Gentzler (120) got a tech win against Tyler Hildibrand, and Joe Umscheid (132) pinned Kaeleb Bratton for the Jaguars. Augusta had an open weight at 138, and Paul Suhr (145) beat Brett Hamilton 9-0 for a 22-point lead in the dual.
That's when Colton Clayborn (152) started the rally. He beat Jay Page 12-4 after allowing him a couple escapes to get a few takedowns and increase the margin the victory.
“That one-point difference can make the difference,” Clayborn said. “I just listened to coach and did what he said, and cut him down to get the major. It took heart.”
In the next match, Quentin Spainhower (160) almost immediately pinned Zach Schulte after a takedown and 3-point nearfall. But Spainhower quickly turned Schulte again and, this time, finished him with a pin.
“Just got a quick takedown from the slide-by straight into my half, and just working hard, going intense on it,” Spainhower said.
Clayborn and Spainhower both finished 2-0 after wins against Campus in the night's opening dual, which Augusta won 44-30. The two of them kick-started a rally in that dual as well; the Orioles got six straight pins to erase a 16-point deficit.
Page 2 of 2 -
“Before both of those duals, me and most of our middle [weight] class guys, we got in a huddle and talked about what we were going to do and how we were going to take it to them,” Spainhower said.
Jacob Hill (170) played good defense early in his match against a couple good shots by Corbin Niemtschk, one of which he turned into a takedown. Hill won a lock-up that led to takedown, then a pin at 3:48. Wright Bosley (182) followed that with a pin just 40 seconds into his match.
Colby Willis (195), who didn't have an opponent to wrestle in the night's opening dual against Campus, dominated his match with a 12-0 lead before getting a pin late in the third period. Chance Runnion (220) thought he had the dual clinched against Sterling Brown, but Brown wasn't ruled as pinned after a takedown. Brown later got Runnion on his back for a surprising pin to give Central a chance before the final bout.
Goldenstein, last year's state runner-up, went 2-0 on the night, as did Hill (two pins) and Bosley (two pins). Augusta beat Campus 44-30, and Central beat Campus 61-15.