Polk loses on mat despite winning multiple matches

Published 10:50 pm Monday, January 27, 2014

The Wolverines' 145-pounder Anthony Marion can't mind too much that Jimmy Silvers' hand is in his face, as Marino is pinning Silvers to close the Mountain Heritage lead on Friday, Jan. 24. (photos by Mark Schmerling)

The Wolverines’ 145-pounder Anthony Marion can’t mind too much that Jimmy Silvers’ hand is in his face, as Marino is pinning Silvers to close the Mountain Heritage lead on Friday, Jan. 24. (photos by Mark Schmerling)

Polk County High School wrestling fans might be excited over the Wolverines’ 8-14 record, but they have to like the individual efforts, and the fact that in head-to-head competition, the arm that the referee raises at the end of each match more often than not belongs to one of Coach Phillip Miller’s grapplers.

Such was the case Friday evening, when Polk won five of nine actual matches, all by pin, in a 45-30 loss to Mountain Heritage. Simply put, the Cougars showed up with more wrestlers, and scored five wins by forfeit.

Vacancies cost Polk six points each, with forfeits at 106 (both teams forfeited at 113), 126, 132 and 160 pounds (Mountain Heritage scored a pin at 120), and put the meet all but out of reach for the Wolverines. It didn’t help that Chase Emory was out sick, as the freshman 132-pounder has won most of his bouts.

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Polk got six points when Dustin Calvert pinned Nick Yelton at 138. At 145, Anthony Marino scored a second-period pin over the Cougars’ Jimmy Silvers, to cut the deficit to 24-12.

Franklin Sandival (at 152) kept it going for the Wolverines when he pinned Alex Welsh, to make it 24-18.

A tough forfeit at 160 upped the visitors’ lead to 30-18.

Miller then switched his regular 170 and 182 wrestlers, with Ryan Badger going at 170. The Cougars’ Manuel Leyva pinned Badger in the second period.

However, regular 170-pounder Damien Cantrell, proved up to the task at 182, pinning Timothy Edwards. At that point,  trailed 36-24.

Why did Miller switch Badger and Cantrell?

“It’s a guessing game,” Miller said. “You try to play the percentages.

Miller put Cantrell against the stronger of those two opponents.

That gave Badger a better chance, and it mattered little to Cantrell, who “is just happy to be there (as last year’s South Carolina third-place state finisher, Cantrell is mostly recovered from an injury that kept him out for the early weeks),” Miller said.

Down 36-24 with three bouts remaining, the Wolverines were still in it with the 195-pound matchup unfolding. Those who missed this one might have kicked themselves later.

Gabe Lail got the call against the Cougars’ Logan Bryant and came within a whisker of upsetting Bryant. Though down by 10-1, Lail refused to surrender.

When he turned Bryant over, Bryant twice yelled that he was in pain, just when Lail all but had him on his back. Referee Vincent Constantino had to stop the action to check on Bryant.

He awarded Lail four near-fall points, but action could not continue with Lail in such a commanding position. When Miller protested the stoppage, the official told him that he had to do so to make sure the young Cougar was not injured.

If Lail was disappointed, he didn’t show it, scoring more points, before the final buzzer sounded with him down, 13-11. That gave Mountain Heritage three points, a 39-24 lead, and no worse than a narrow victory.

At 220, Marquise Lipscomb came out aggressively, but was pinned.

There was little doubt about the outcome of the heavyweight (285 pound) bout, where Chase McMurray did what he so often does, pinning his opponent (in this case, Tyler McFarland), to make the final score 45-30.

“There’s nothing you can do about forfeits,” Miller said after the meet. “The ones who were here wrestled well. You can’t ask for much more than that.”

How did he feel about Lail, who wrestled in Jerry Cox’s spot, with Cox out sick? “You couldn’t be prouder of Gabe,” Miller said.

“The kids we put out there, wrestled hard,” Miller continued. “You can’t ask for more than that. For the ones we put out there, it’s been a great year.”

Friday’s result, combined with Thursday evening’s 41-33 loss at Mitchell, put Polk out of contention in the state dual-meet competition, but several team members will likely compete individually. All the Wolverines are expected to compete in regionals.

Polk returns to action at East Henderson tonight, Tuesday, Jan. 28 with action beginning at 6 p.m. Location and time of next Tuesday’s (Feb. 4) dual meet will be unannounced, as are the location and time of states (Feb. 21/22).

Regional competition is slated for Feb. 14/15 at Owen.