Analyzing the Fallston-C. Milton Wright wrestling match beforehand, the Mustangs figured to be six- to 10-point favorites.
But Mustangs coach Carl Holston knows he can't plan on anything against Fallston.
In the four years that Holston has coached the Mustangs, they hadnever beaten Fallston in a dual meet. The Mustangs last beat Fallston in 1985 when the Mustangs had four county champs.
This time, Fallston forfeited 12 points, and the Mustangs appeared ready to break the streak. But the Cougars got a couple of unexpected wins early and crucial decisions from Derek Schwarz at 140 pounds and Jared McCarthyat 152 to beat C. Milton Wright, 31-23, Wednesday night.
"We weretrying to hold that record (against C. Milton Wright)," said Schwarz, one of two Fallston seniors. "To be honest, when I first came in, Iwasn't sure we could do it."
Fallston spotted the Mustangs 12 points, forfeiting at 125 pounds and at heavyweight. With only five junior varsity wrestlers, the Cougars haven't had a 125-pounder all season. Heavyweight Russell Cooke was out with the flu.
Holston had seen the setup too many times before. "It always seems like no matter what happens -- Fallston's held together with string and tape, and theystill end up beating us by eight points. We can't take advantage of the situation and put them away."
But the Mustangs (3-4) had a handicap of their own. Four of their starters, including three veterans,were wrestling their first matches after Holston's disciplinary action benched them for December. Of Dave Poole, Ron Lentz, Aric Schwab and Chris Miller, only Schwab won his match. At 130 pounds, Schwab pinned Joe Poling in 58 seconds.
For the Cougars (2-3), the early matches proved critical. Chad Taylor started out by decisioning Vince Tucciarella, 3-2, at 103 pounds. Tom Brazier and Poole battled to a 2-2tie at 112. Then freshman Patrick Elliot decisioned Lentz, 9-6, at 119.
In all three bouts, the Mustangs' coaching staff argued that points had not been awarded their wrestlers that should have been. But, in each case, their protests were denied.
"There were a couple of questionable calls," said Holston, "but you have to give credit to Fallston."
Even after those first three bouts, the Mustangs were in a pretty good position. Josh Chaillou picked up the forfeit at 125 and Schwab followed, pinning Poling to put the Mustangs ahead, 14-8.
Kevin Barnaba broke the momentum with an 11-2 decision over the Mustangs' Gordon Reilly at 135 pounds.
The pivotal bout of the matchcame at 140 pounds. Schwarz won a 3-2 decision over Chris Miller. The Cougars then pulled ahead. Max Dodd (145) decisioned Ethan Kushner,8-3. McCarthy then decisioned Kevin Breslin, 15-9. Todd Paradise (160) won by technical fall over Kevin McGovern. Brian Barnaba (171) pinned Barry Mitchell in 26 seconds.
In the 189-pound bout, the Mustangs' Ryan Arist picked up a 5-2 decision over Doug Johnson. Jason Joines picked up the forfeit win at heavyweight.
For the Cougars, it was their second dual meet win in a row. They had beaten Overlea, 34-31, last Saturday. In their first three meets, all losses, the Cougars gave away 18 points in forfeits.
"This was an important win for us," said Cougars assistant coach Andy Amasia. "Two wins back-to-backshould do a lot for our younger guys' confidence. It seems Fallston doesn't get many accolades for wrestling. The kids are always somewhere down in the pecking order. We're trying to get respect, and this is the first step to getting respect."