O'FALLON — The hard-luck team of the Southwestern Conference, the O'Fallon Panthers have had trouble closing things out this season despite a solid 11-4 dual meet record.
On Thursday, the Panthers took no chances against the Belleville East Lancers.
Senior Austin Metz remained undefeated at 160 pounds with a 5-2 win over Matt Striegle to highlight an early Panthers onslaught as the O'Fallon matmen jumped out to an 18-0 lead and went on for a 47-17 win.
Looking to build momentum heading into the Mascoutah Invitational, which begins Friday, the Panthers got pins from Eli Blecha (145) and Keajion Jennings (152) and wins from Paxton Edgar (138) and Metz in the first four matches to take early control.
East (7-6), which trailed 33-5 after an overtime win by the Panthers' Henry Wavering at 220, closed to with 33-17 following a win by Rashaan Sykes (113).
But when Jon Villagrean defeated Jordan Hunter 12-1 at 120, the Panthers had an insurmountable 37-17 lead with two matches remaining.
Villagran also is undefeated.
"Our seniors have done a great job for us all year,'' O'Fallon coach Glenn Exton said. "We're pretty solid all the way through the lineup, but the kids have come in and worked hard. We're having a very good season and I'm pleased with how we're wrestling. But we feel like we should be undefeated at this point. We lost a pair of heartbreakers against Granite City and Collinsville, and we lost two close matches in Chicago. ''
East coach Maurice Brown said the early deficit and the Panthers' momentum was just too much to overcome.
"We're still a young team with just one senior in the starting lineup. Tonight, O'Fallon came out and won those four matches early and took the momentum. We could never get it back,'' Brown said. "Of course, like any match we felt coming in that this was a match we could win.
"We gave up some bonus points on pins, which hurt as well. The goal was to win 60-65 percent of our duals and at 7-6 we're close. We've just got to get back in the (practice) room and keep working.''
East got on the scoreboard when Dylan Gray won by technical fall (15-0) over Quinn Preston at 170. But O'Fallon then got wins from Tyler Sexton (182), Tori Rogers (195) and Wavering to take a 33-5 lead.
Wavering's win was the most emotional of the night for O'Fallon.
Tied at 1 with the Lancers' Kendall Ivy, Wavering scored a takedown 40 seconds into overtime for the win.
"And Henry did it with a very impressive move,'' Exton said. "He's a kid who hasn't had a lot of success, so it was good to see. It was a big win for us.''
Winner of the Chatham-Glenwood Tournament two weeks ago, O'Fallon will be one of the favorites when action begins at the Mascoutah Invitational at 4:30 p.m. on Friday.
Edwardsville 42, Granite City 12
The Tigers broke an early 9-all tie and went on for the key Southwestern Conference win. Edwardsville won 10 of the 14 matches.