WINFIELD — Rylan Moose sparred with Matt Thomas during a recent practice, and Thomas left with a knee injury that had him limping around South Carroll’s gym Wednesday evening.
Never mind that Moose is a 145-pound freshman, and Thomas is his varsity coach.
“On Monday we were wrestling around, in a funky position, and it popped,” Thomas said about his knee while feigning anger. “But we’ll heal up and be all right.”
No doubt Thomas’ aching leg felt a little better once Moose came through for the Cavaliers with their home dual meet on the line against Manchester Valley. Moose pinned MV’s Kaleb Reid in the first period, and the Cavs capped their comeback in the final bout to win 34-30.
The Cavaliers (16-1, 5-0 in the Carroll County Athletic League) overcame a 15-point deficit by winning six of the final seven bouts, and Moose sealed it with his pin. South Carroll got pins from junior Antonio Bradford (170) and sophomore Ryan Athey (113) before Moose added a third, and he said overcoming his nerves was the key to winning.
“I just had to zone out the crowd. The crowd was getting into everybody’s head, but it wasn’t getting in mine,” Moose said. “Not anytime soon. I just had to focus on what I do best, and that’s wrestling.”
Man Valley (30-2, 3-1) reeled off four consecutive matches to take a 24-9 lead. Adam Mattson (182) started the run with a 16-second pin, fellow senior Connor Livingston (195) followed with an 8-7 victory, and junior Grant Warner (220) added a pin before senior heavyweight Zach Brathuhn won by decision.
Thomas Chenoweth, another senior, opened the dual with a first-period pin, and the Mavericks flexed their muscles early. But Thomas said he felt the Cavs had the proper matchups once the lineup shifted into the lighter weights.
“We went to make the turn and I said, ‘Stop looking at the scoreboard,’” Thomas said. "I said, ‘You’re going to get the job done, we’re going to get the ball rolling, and we’re going to win this match.’ They all dug deep and they believed in it.”
Freshman AJ Rodrigues posted a technical fall over Hunter Green at 126, and South Carroll regained the lead at 25-24. Jake Rippeon was up next at 132, and the junior took control against MV’s Heathe Hernandez before finishing off a 14-9 decision and earning three crucial points for his team.
“We’ve been planning for [Man Valley] for a while. It was a big county match, but undefeated teams,” Rippeon said. “We really wanted to beat them. Really, it all just came down to how hard we practiced.”
Senior Chad Shaffer (138) ended South Carroll’s scoring run with a first-period pin, and with one bout to go the Mavericks led 30-28. But they couldn’t hang on in losing for the first time since the Bauerlein Duals tournament more than one month ago.
The Mavericks host Century on Thursday, while South Carroll prepares for a tri-meet Saturday against Dunbar and Loyola Blakefield. The Cavaliers have the edge in the county championship chase with their win over Man Valley, but Winters Mill is still in the mix.
The Falcons (12-1, 4-1 CCAL) visit South Carroll on Feb. 3, and their only loss came against Manchester Valley.
“I think this is a big confidence booster for our team,” Moose said about Wednesday’s win. “I think we’ll be able to keep going.”