The No. 14 John Carroll wrestling team didn't beat No. 3 Archbishop Spalding, but the Patriots sure made it interesting Tuesday, taking last season's state champion to the final weight class before the Cavaliers pulled out a 36-27 victory.
Once Spalding's Ryan Baublitz pinned his opponent at 220 pounds, the Cavs still needed at least a decision from heavyweight Malik Johnson, who had had just one practice and was in his first match of the season, having not been able to join the team until this week, after football season ended.
Johnson went out and got the fastest pin of the night, in 1 minute, 8 seconds.
"Coach looked at me and said, 'You've got to get at least a decision,'" said Johnson, a senior who played defensive tackle for Spalding. "So I did. He trusts me to get the job done."
Spalding won its first dual meet of the season while John Carroll fell to 1-1.
"We didn't expect this match to be so close," Spalding coach Mike Laidley said. "But their kids wrestled well. I'm proud of my team for pulling this out."
Besides the final two weight classes, Spalding also got a big boost from Logan Breitenbach, who managed to pin his opponent with just 19 seconds left in the 152-pound bout.
The match was as tight as rush-hour traffic through the first eight bouts. Then John Carroll freshman Hunter Ritter broke a tie at 15 by pinning his opponent with 50 seconds left in the third period of the 160-pound match for a six-point lead.
"I wrestled a really bad match, but I pulled it out," Ritter said. "I cut a lot of weight before this match, and it made me feel a little weak. I was really hoping we'd win. It would have been a big upset."
John Carroll's junior co-captain Scott Strappelli said he couldn't have been prouder of his teammates.
"I thought from the beginning we were going to win," said Strappelli, who won a decision over his opponent at 138. "It wasn't a cakewalk for them. It came down to the last match. I love my guys."
When Spalding forfeited at 195, the Patriots were on top at 27-24. But then came those two final weight classes. Spalding was happy with those results and the overall outcome, but John Carroll coach Keith Watson was pleased, too.
"We've still got some weight issues, and we've got seven freshmen in our lineup," he said. "In a month or seven weeks, we're going to be a completely different team. Even now, we're putting a decent product out there."
No. 3 Archbishop Spalding 36, No. 14 John Carroll 27
106 Dwyer (JC) d Eberhard (AS), 7-0
113 Still (AS) d Skokowski (JC), 8-0
120 Bradley (AS) d Milner (JC), 11-5
126 Jernigan (JC) d Pente (5-2
132 Chidebe (AS) d Venanzi (JC), 7-1
138 Strappelli (JC) d Graves (SP), 8-2
145 Weber (JC) p Guercio (AS), 1:48
152 Breitenbach (AS) p Almony (JC), 5:41
160 Ritter (JC) p McHale (AS), 5:10
170 Parker (AS) d Donato (JC), 6-2
182 Smith (AS) p Etkins (JC), 4:27
195 Kelble (JC) wins by forfeit
220 Baublitz (AS) p Oduok (JC), 2:50
280 Johnson (AS) p Reininger (JC), 1:08