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St. C. splits tri match; tops BL, falls to Dover

ST. CLAIRSVILLE’S Nathan Witsberger looks for back points against Buckeye Local’s Chase McFadden during their 160-pound match Wednesday night on John Jenkins Court. Witsberger won by pin as the Red Devils prevailed, 58-18.

ST. CLAIRSVILLE — Although there are 14 weight classes in a high school wrestling, it only takes one unexpected result to turn around a dual meet. St. Clairsville, unfortunately, can attest to that.

The Red Devils, who were unblemished in 11 head-to-head competitions and ranked No. 1 in the Ohio Valley Athletic Conference Class 4A standings, and Dover, second to Steubenville in the Class 5A listing at 13-3, were deadlocked at 12 after four bouts Wednesday night. However, it was the fifth match — at 132 pounds — that turned the tide, according to Red Devils head coach Joel Sansone.

St. Clairsville senior Koen Kish, ranked No. 1 in the Division II by Borofan and headed to NCAA Division I Clarion State, led Dover’s Pedro Garcia 4-2 before an illegal slam by Kish ended the match with 1:17 left in the first period. Garcia lay on the mat for several minutes but couldn’t continue and was awarded the win by disqualification, resulting in six team points as the Tornadoes went ahead 18-12.

Dover went on to win five of the remaining nine matches to claim a thrilling, 40-36, victory on John Jenkins Court. St. Clairsville did, however, defeat Buckeye Local, 58-18, in the opening dual. The short-handed Panthers (4-4) also fell to the Tornadoes, 66-9.

“When Koen lost by disqualification I knew we didn’t have a chance. That was a match that we needed. That was a 12-point swing,” Sansone said. “It was a terrible situation. Hopefully he learns to realize that when he’s wrestling an inferior opponent, those guys aren’t really trying that much, so he needs to finish a little easier with control.

“It is what it is. We’ll get back in the room tomorrow (Thursday) and learn from our mistakes,” he added. “I told the guys the in these tough duals, one match is going to decide them. We needed someone to step up and make up the difference but it didn’t work out that way. Everybody wrestled hard and gave it their best effort and at the end of the day, that’s all you can ask of as a coach.”

The Red Devils did recover and led 30-28 after senior Austin DaRe recorded a lightning-quick, 31-second pin at 170, but Dover used a pin and decision at 182 and 195, respectively, for a 37-30 advantage.

Reese Skaggs, one of four seniors competing on Senior Night, pulled the hosts to within one, 37-36, with a 26-second mat-slapper, but the Tornadoes won the 285-pound match, 7-5, to secure the win.

Junior Gannon Kazmirski (106/113) had a pair of falls in less than a minute. He won in 56 and 44 seconds.

Freshman Harrison Kazmirski (120/126) had a 40-second pin and won by forfeit, while senior Caden Stout (145) was awarded a pair of forfeits.

Josh DeNoble (138) is the other Red Devils senior.

BUCKEYE LOCAL was paced by senior Brian Palmer Jr. (152/160). Ranked No. 1 at 152 in Division III, recorded a pin and a decision.

“He is very focused. He wants all of the tough matches. He wants the best competition, so I’m trying to find it for him,” Buckeye Local head coach Guy Nestor, who is in his second go-round as the Panthers boss, said.

Nestor was also pleased with the effort of Alexio Morales (195) who won both of his matches, one by pin.

“It’s rubbing off on some of the kids in the room,” Nestor said of the success Palmer Jr. has enjoyed during his career.

The Panthers only had six wrestlers in uniform.

“We’ve got two in quarantine right now,” Nestor said. “We’ve got a good core of eight and we are pretty solid with them all in the lineup.”

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