- The Enterprise
- The Recorder
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It’s long been assumed that seven is a lucky number, but it was the six that proved to be fortunate for the Patuxent wrestling team on Tuesday night.
The Panthers (9-3, 3-3 SMAC) earned six points in 11 of the 12 bouts they won — eight on pins and three forfeits — and rolled to a 70-12 win over an improving Westlake squad.
“I think a few of the matches were tough matches and we were lucky to get pins out of them,” said Patuxent head coach Mike Bartley, whose team was scheduled to wrestle Leonardtown and Great Mills on Thursday night, but it was postponed to 5 p.m. today at Leonardtown. “There were some pretty good fights, I just think we were persistent and the outcome was good. I always tell them before every match that we want six [points] instead of three and we got it. Tonight, we just kind of wound up on the lucky side.”
Patuxent won the first four bouts and, after a forfeit at 120 pounds, rolled to wins over the next eight to post its second-high point total of the season. The Panthers tacked 72 points on Gwynn Park on Dec. 21.
The Wolverines (1-9, 1-5), who were forced to forfeit three bouts from 138- to the 152-pound weight classes, earned a forfeit win themselves at 120 and added a pin from Brian Linder at 195, the final bout of the night.
“We’ve got a very young team; we don’t have the depth or experience like Patuxent,” said Westlake head coach Corey Munn, whose team was scheduled to travel to Northern on Thursday night, but it was postponed until 9:30 a.m. Jan. 26. “They performed very well, [but] we’re still building our team. We have new kids coming out each week. It takes time, we’re going to have to work hard and work together and I think we’ll see a big improvement by the end of the year.”
Patuxent, which took the lead in seven of 10 contested bouts, received an opening match pin from Eric Waugh (220) and Travis Weldon (285) added a fall 89 seconds into his match.
“He’s a good wrestler. It’s his first year so it’s always a learning experience,” Weldon said of opponent Davonte Elliot, who had also been pinned by Weldon at the Patriot Classic on Jan. 4 and 5. [But] you never underestimate your opponent. You have to come out and think it’s going to be a hard match every time.”
Patuxent’s Stanley Pressley added Patuxent’s only non-six-point victory at 106. The senior trailed 3-2 in the second period, but earned 10 of the next 12 awarded points to secure a major decision.
“Was I? I didn’t even know that,” Pressley said of facing the early deficit. “I just tried to wrestle smart. I knew [opponent Brandon Logan] was good because I’m friends with him so we have this little thing before and after matches. I just tried to keep my head focused and just go.”
The Panthers had three third-period pins from Gabe Smith (132), Billy Bonney (170) and Matt Gancayco (182).
Linder ended the match and snapped Patuxent’s string when he pinned Aaron Johns with 40 seconds left in the third period.
“My strategy … was to start low and try and blast the guy in the beginning and try and grab on to his left leg and try and get as much control in the match as I possibly could and then try to power his over,” Linder said. “[But] he was a tough opponent, he was very good at getting back up and not flipping over when I put him in the half [nelson].”
Despite his team’s win-loss record, Munn and Linder have seen the team make big strides.
“I’ve seen a lot of improvement,” Munn said. “Brian for instance, his opponent beat him a month ago, but you wouldn’t have known it watching his match tonight. He went out there and dominated pretty much every aspect of the match. One thing I can say about this team, they have heart. They keep fighting until the end of the period, until the end of the match.”
Linder added, “My freshman year was not nearly as good as this team is now. I see a lot of improvement from everybody on my team and I see people that were tired to practice at first, but now they’re ready to get out there, they’re ready to hit it.”
And it’s not only Wolverines who are taking notice.
“Westlake is going to be back,” Bartley said. “They’re a work in progress, they were dead in the water last year and Corey, I think he’s doing a wonderful job because every one of those guys went out there to fight, they didn’t give up. Westlake will be competitive in a couple of years.”
In regards to his own team, Bartley said the Panthers are getting there.
“I’m pretty pleased, but we still have a long way to go,” he said, “but so far so good.”
Pressley added, “We’ve been getting a lot better. Guys last year who weren’t doing so well have been doing a lot better this year getting pins. It’s real nice.”