BY TIM TAYLOR
Tioga County Sports Report
OWEGO - Owego combined a trio of falls and a five forfeits to open up the STAC dual meet season with a 48-24 win over Johnson City here Wednesday.
"Overall, we did OK. We bumped some guys around to get some matches that we wouldn't normally have," said Owego head coach Nick Rodgers. "Overall, our guys wrestled tough and we've got some work to do, but we're going to have a good season ahead of us."
The Indians received pins from Hunter Martin at 132 pounds, Andrew Laubach at 138 and Austin Culver at 160.
After picking up a takedown and near fall for a 5-0 lead, Martin decked the Wildcats' Rilee Dean in 1:08 to tie the match at 18-18.
Laubach dispatched Aidan Sodan in 5:12 to put Owego ahead, 24-18. He built a big lead early, taking Sodan down and putting him his back twice for an 8-0 advantage heading into the second period. After getting put to his own back, Laubach work this way free and picked up a reversal with four seconds remaining in the period. He would take Sodan down in the third and turn him one more time, this one going for the fall at 5:12.
Culver wasted little time disposing of Nathan Smith, scoring a pin in 26 seconds.
The match began with James Bundy (195) and Tyler Benjamin (220) receiving forfeits to give the Indians a 12-0 lead.
Next up was Cooper Cantella and JC's Josh Shoemaker squaring off in a duel at 285 which went eight minutes-plus. Following a scoreless opening period, Shoemaker scored a standing reversal early in the second, but was unable to hold Cantella down. The Owego heavyweight would pick up an escape, then add another in the third period to send the bout to sudden victory. Neither wrestler scored, but both picked up an escape in the two 30-second tie-breaker periods. In the ultimate tie-breaker, Shoemaker chose bottom and escaped 7.8 seconds into the period for a 4-3 win.
Some of Owego's lighter weights took their lumps, but went down fighting.
"We have a 99-pounder that's pretty good," Rodgers said. "We bumped him up to 113 to get a match. We weighed him in at 106, then bumped him up. He was giving up a lot of size and that's why I think the match went that way."
However, the fact he was up two weights over his normal class didn't seem to faze Matt Laubach. He went right after JC's Finten Nannery, making the initial takedown attempt, but was out-muscled by Nannery, who won by fall in 23 seconds.
JC's Patrick Zara picked up a pin over Owen Titus in 45 seconds at 120, pushing the Wildcats in front, 15-12. Owego was missing its usual 120-pounder, Jacob Morris.
The Wildcats moved their standout, 120-pounder Dante Rigal (whose preseason state ranking is 10th in Division I at 113) to 126 and he had his hands full with Avery Middendorf in a 5-0 win. Rigal scored takedowns in the first and second periods and an escape in the third. However, he was unable to put Middendorf to his back, despite running a strong arm bar in the first period and a half nelson in the second.
"He did a very good job," Rodgers said. "Rigal bumped up to wrestle him and he held his own. Rigal's one of the best kids in the state, and 5-0, we can take that all day."
With their team down, 18-12, Martin and Laubach picked up the back-to-back pins for a 24-18 lead, but JC's Aidyn Ramondino pinned Noah Kithcart in eight seconds at 145 to tie the match at 24 all.
The Indians would win the final four bouts, three by forfeit. Those went to Zach Miner (152), Cam Bundy (160) and Sean Heffernan (182). The other win was Culver's fall.
There were no matches contested at 99 and 106.
Owego heads to Pennsylvania Saturday to compete in the Jarvis Wildcat Memorial Tournament in Athens.
IN PHOTO 1: Owego's Andrew Laubach (left). ... PHOTOS BY TIM TAYLOR.
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