The Panther wrestlers opened their 2016-17 season sweeping to three victories despite relinquishing points to all three opponents through forfeited matches.
The obstacle facing coach Glenn Exton and his charges — open slots in the lightweight classes — did not deter the Panthers in their initial mat challenges as they defeated Springfield, DeSmet and Mattoon in the Edwardsville Super Duals.
“I thought we looked pretty good, overall,” Exton said. “We forfeited four weights, which put our back to the wall, forcing us to earn bonus points in other weight classes. We won 24 of 30 matches we actually wrestled. Our technique looked solid, which was nice to see, since we have not put everything in yet in practice.”
Edwardsville Super Duals
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The Panthers first match against Springfield included some tense moments as the team totals were tallied, but the OTHS matmen prevailed 37-33. O’Fallon got wins from Jalen Jones, Jack Bond, Mason Hewitt, Kobey Bosworth, Brian Ahle, Alek Ziegler and Alex Fulton. Bond, Bosworth, Ahle and Fulton won by pins, Bond taking honors with the quickest pin at 1:31 of the first period.
The margin of victory for the Panthers was significantly greater against DeSmet, 48-32. After forfeiting the first match at 145 pounds, O’Fallon scored with consecutive wins by Caleb Carriel and Bond. Carriel pinned DeSmet’s Michael Cross at the 1:44 mark of their 152-pound. match, and Bond notched his second pin of the day.
A loss by decision momentarily stalled O’Fallon’s momentum, but Hewitt at 182 pounds and Bosworth at 195 pounds quickly put the Panthers back on track with quick pins over their respective opponents. Hewitt nailed DeSmet’s Adam Lightner in just 1:17. Bosworth one-upped his teammate at 195 pounds when he executed a pinning combination just one minute into the match.
Ahle and freshman Mason Baker completed pins at 220 pounds and 285 pounds DeSmet got consecutive forfeit wins after Baker’s victory, but Fulton wrapped up the OTHS victory in no uncertain terms with a pin over Colin Beveredge at 3:54.
The Panthers made it a clean sweep with a 53-21 win over Mattoon. O’Fallon rolled to the lop-sided victory thanks to an impressive string of victories in the middle and upper weight classes. Beginning with Carriel’s pin at 152 pounds, the wrestlers reeled off five straight wins, four by pin and all secured in less than two minutes. Jones, wrestling at 138 pounds, put an exclamation point on the victory, pinning his opponent in just 30 seconds in the final match.
OTHS goes 3-0 in home opener
After their initial success, OTHS completed a 3-0 effort in their home opening triangular against Cahokia, Mount Vernon and Mascoutah. Despite some forfeits, the Panthers came through with enough firepower in the middle and upper weight classes to cruise past Cahokia 57-12, Mount Vernon 62-10, and Mascoutah 70-12.
Bond and Bosworth spearheaded the effort, each pinning all three of their opponents. Hewitt and Baker also collected three individual victories, two by pin and one by decision. Ahle (220 pounds), Jake DeLange (170 pounds), Jones (138 pounds) and Carriel (152 pounds) also contributed to O’Fallon’s home-opener victory.
Panthers pin Granite City in SWC opener
The good vibes carried over for the Panthers in a 34-23 victory against Southwestern Conference opponent Granite City.
“Of course, it’s always a team effort in close matches like this one against Granite City, but I felt the key matches were turned in by Jalen Jones at 138 pounds and Mason Baker at 285 pounds,” Exton said. “Jones wrestled a solid match to start the evening for us and scored a takedown with just a few seconds left to win 3-0. The heavyweight match-up was a swing match — one that could have gone either way. I knew that if Mason (Baker) could pull off a win, we would be in good position to win the dual. Mason wrestled his heart out. He pushed hard enough to make himself sick and still got through it. You couldn’t ask any more from a freshman.”
Bond, who had to rebound from an injury time-out, edged out a narrow 7-6 and a Hewitt victory by pin allowed O’Fallon to maintain a slim point advantage over the Warriors.
Exton said the biggest match of the evening was the 195 pound contest between Bosworth and Granite City’s Kyle Thompson.
“Thompson was one match from placing at state last year against Bosworth, who was a sectional qualifier with over 30 wins,” Exton said. “I don’t think Kobey was quite on his game. Thompson did wrestle well to win the match 13-12, but I think it certainly could go the other way the next time they face off.”
With victory still hanging in the balance, O’Fallon 126-pounder Ziegler provided momentum with a quick pin over Granite City’s Greg Marti. Ziegler put Marti on his back just 56 seconds into the first period. The win was Ziegler’s seventh in a row to start the 2016-17 campaign.
After Ziegler’s pin, teammate Fulton came through with hammer that sealed the Panther victory. Facing off against Garrett Hooper, Fulton finally pinned his Warrior opponent at 5:57.
“Alex was in control the whole match but didn’t have a big lead (4-0),” Exton said. “He kept searching for an opportunity to turn him and finally found it just before the match ended.”
After the big SWC triumph, Exton praised his team’s effort.
“I think our success has gone unnoticed in the community over the past few years,” Exton said. “We have now won 32 of our last 33 duals, spanning three years. Our kids have really been consistent, especially our seniors. I’m proud of their effort and deserved success.”