The Highland wrestling Bulldogs dominated a triangular match after posting lopsided victories over East Alton-Wood River (54-15) and Mount Olive (52-18) Wednesday, Jan. 11 at Highland High School.
The next night, Highland split a triangular match after besting edging out Litchfield, 36-28, and falling to Vandalia, 59-15.
Going 3-1 in the four matches raised the Bulldogs’ dual-match record to 6-5.
HHS splits triangular match
In what was an upset victory over Litchfield, sophomore Colton Brown (126 pounds), senior Jacob Mitchell (132 pounds) and junior Mason Geiger (138 pounds) got things started off right as they earned key victories to stake the Bulldogs out to a 15-12 lead.
Brown needed a scant 54 seconds to smother Jacob Mantor, while Mitchell (20-6) earned his second hard-fought win of the night with an 8-4 decision over Tyler Thiessen, and Geiger pinned Chris Durbin at the 1:29 mark of the first period.
Then, after Litchfield took a brief lead, sophomore Devin Wills (152 pounds) and senior Trent Rakers (160 pounds) scored back-to-back falls to stake Highland to the lead for good at 27-18.
Wills (24-6) pinned Billy Ringering in 1:18, while Rakers worked even quicker in pinning Dylan Maxwell in 54 seconds. Rakers kept his undefeated record intact at 17-0. He needs just four more victories to shatter Tanner Farmer’s record for career wins. The record is 131 victories, and Rakers currently sits at 128 wins.
But Litchfield won consecutive matches to trim the deficit down to 27-25 before the Highland received a forfeit at 182 pounds to go up by eight, 33-25.
Then senior Brett Brown came through with a gutsy performance to seal the victory for Highland. Brown tips the scales at 195 pounds, but he wrestled up 25 pounds, at 220, and showed his mettle by staving off Reese Radtke to survive for a 5-2 triumph and clinch an impressive team victory for the Bulldogs over the Purple Panthers.
“It was a good win, and and it was a surprise, because I wasn’t expecting that win,” Highland coach Terry Ohren said. “Freshman Cody Carroll came through without getting pinned kind of helped, and then Brett kind of topped it off by winning when we needed to win. Brett wrestled a kid that was a lot bigger and stronger than him. It was a great win for us. The whole lineup stepped up for us, and I would say this was our most impressive win of the year right now.”
In the loss to Vandalia, Rakers, Wills and Mitchell earned the wins for the Bulldogs.
If you blinked, you may have missed Rakers’ first match of the night at 160 pounds as he used a rolling power move to smother his Vandals opponent, D. Lott, in just 13 ticks of the digital clock.
At 152 pounds, Wills also worked quickly as he earned a fall at the 1:57 mark over Kyle Phillips of Vandalia.
At 132 pounds, Mitchell prevailed for a 6-4 victory over Logan Sullens of the Vandals.
HHS beats up on Wood River, Mt. Olive
Both the East Alton-Wood River Oilers and the Mount Olive Wildcats are severely shorthanded as Wood River had eight forfeits overall and Mount Olive had six vacant spots in its lineup.
In the 54-15 over Wood River in Highland’s first of the two matches of the night, the Bulldogs’ only actual contested win on the mat came at 126 pounds, where Brown earned a quick pin at the 1:32 mark.
The eight forfeit victories — amounting to 48 team points for the Bulldogs — were picked up by the following HHS wrestlers: Garrett Metz (106 pounds), Geiger (138 pounds), Blaine Haberer (145 pounds), Wills (152 pounds), Christian Zuccarelli (170 pounds), Carroll (182 pounds) and Brown (195 pounds).
In Highland’s 52-18 over Mount Olive to wrap up Jan. 18’s triangular match, the Bulldogs still gained more points (30) from five forfeits than the Wildcats scored in the match (18).
Earning wins on the mat were Rakers (160 pounds), Haberer (145 pounds), Caleb Machuca (120 pounds) and Metz (106 pounds).
Haberer, Machucah and Metz all earned pins. Machuca scored the quickest fall of the three at the 1:54 mark, while Metz’s pin came at 2:21 and Haberer’s was late in the second at the 3:43 mark.
Rakers did not get a pin but he had very little worry about staying undefeated on the season. He blanked Jonny Darrah 12-0.
Collecting forfeits for the Bulldogs were: Tyler Langendord (220 pounds), Brett Brown (195 pounds), Geiger (138 pounds), Jacob Mitchell (132 pounds) and Colton Brown (126 pounds).
At 152 pounds, Wills engaged in a hard-fought and spirited see-saw scrap with Maxx Fritz of Mount Olive in which Fritz ultimately escaped with a 7-4 triumph.