Slow and steady wins the match for wrestling

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After suffering a loss to Seton Hill on Feb. 6, the Gannon University wrestling team was looking to pick up a win Friday at West Liberty against the Hilltoppers.
With the postseason approaching, securing a win would get the momentum going for the team, and that’s just what the Knights did, rallying from a slow start to post a 26-9 victory.
Gannon opened the meet with three straight losses, all by decision. The night would meet its turning point with true freshman Ryan Kaminski at 149 pounds getting his first dual start.
Kaminski was stepping in for regionally ranked teammate George McGuire, who is sidelined due to injury. The freshman was able to step up to the challenge with a 5-3 decision victory, recording the only two takedowns in the bout.
The ball kept rolling with the next matchup, as Gannon’s Garret Smith held complete control of the first two periods of his 157-pound match.
He was able to turn his opponent, Dave Schlieper, on multiple occasions and record 10 points on near-fall points alone. The third period came with a close call when Schlieper got a reversal that put Smith on his back.
Smith was able to fight the time away and pick up his fifth straight victory with a 15-11 decision win.
All eyes were focused on the 165-pound bout, which pitted Gannon’s Nate Ross – ranked fourth in the region – against Liberty’s Demadre Turner, who is ranked fifth.
Ross came into the match on a roll, as he was named Super Region One Wrestler of the Week on Feb. 10.
Ross said he appreciated the award but tries to keep things in perspective.
“Being honored in such a way is a great feeling,” he said. “I do enjoy people taking time out of their day to congratulate me. However, I let it go in one ear and out the other, which enables me to stay focused on bigger and better accomplishments.”
The matchup started with Ross recording two separate takedowns and Turner being able to escape from both by the end of the first. After Ross deferred his choice at the beginning of the second period, the choice went to Turner, who took bottom and recorded the only point of the period with an escape.
The third period is where Ross has widened the gap between him and his opponents. After getting an escape followed by a dynamic takedown, Ross was able to ride out Turner and pick up an additional riding point to make it an 8-3 decision victory.
Ross said he wasn’t affected by the fact that Turner was one spot below him in the regional rankings and added that rankings in general aren’t of much interest to him.
“Honestly I couldn’t care less about wrestlers that are ranked in the nation,” he said. “I’m trying to make a name for myself and I have personal goals I feel the need to accomplish.
“My mindset has always been to work hard and win or lose there is still something to take from each match. I consider myself my biggest enemy sometimes and if I complete the challenges I put forth in front of me then I am confident I can take on opponents who are not doing the same.”
After those first six matches the team score was tied 9-9. The Knights’ next wrestler, 174-pound Christopher Matthews, has made himself be looked at as a complete threat on his feet all season and showed the same thing in this matchup with West Liberty’s Daniel Carpenter.
After getting a pair of takedowns and a four-point near-fall, Matthews led 8-1 going into the second period. Though giving up an escape point to Carpenter, he was able to respond with yet another takedown and ride out the time to move on to the last two minutes of the match.
Matthews showed much of the same skills in the third period as he held Carpenter down for most of the time. Then after a late escape from Carpenter the two battled it out on their feet for a short time. Matthews ended up winning the match 11-3, earning four team points with a major decision.
At 184 pounds, Gannon sophomore Jake Stratton showed his dominance against Doug Sizemore with an 11-2 major decision victory.
As if he were trying to one-up Matthews’ takedown performance, Stratton recorded four total in the contest. This would be Stratton’s eighth major decision of the season, which leads the team.
After Gannon’s Lorenzo Maddox received a forfeit victory at 197 pounds to clinch the victory, the audience was treated to an exciting matchup at 285 pounds between the Knights’ Gunner Loughman and West Liberty’s Nathan Dawson.
The matchup was scoreless at the end of the first. Loughman started the second period with an escape and Dawson was able to counter and the do the exact same in the third.
In overtime, the two went back and forth but Loughman was able to get enough riding time to score the one point that was the difference and the Knights had their 26-9 win.
Gannon has one last dual meet Wednesday at Wheeling Jesuit before going into the postseason. The meet could feature regionally ranked matchups at 149, 174 and 197 pounds.
After Wednesday’s matchup, Ross and the team will be fully focused on the postseason.
“I see us having a great postseason,” he said. “I believe we will send more people to nationals this year than we have had in recent years.
“We just need to stay focused on our individual goals and work hard for these last three weeks.”
Up next, the Knights will be going to West Virginia to take on the Wheeling Jesuit Cardinals at 7 p.m. on Wednesday.

MATTHEW NEWARA
[email protected].gannon.edu