The dual meet wrestling match between host Western Tech and Oakland Mills was tied at 12-12 after the first four matches, but the Scorpions proceeded to win the next nine matches and cruise to a 62-15 victory on Thursday night.
Western Tech got its final three points when sophomore Alfred Murdock decisioned Ming Nelson, 11-3, in the last match of the night.
After Miles Crook earned a forfeit at 220 to start the evening, the festivities began with a bang when Oakland Mills heavyweight Ernie Smith, who came in with one loss, went up against undefeated Ike Kalu.
Kalu, ranked third in the state in the 220-pound weight class, pinned Smith, ranked 21st at 285, in the first period (1:50) to improve to 17-0.
“I went into it saying, ‘I’m going to pin this kid first period and that’s what I did,’” said Kalu, who lost in the state championship finals to Cam Farrow in ultimate overtime last season. “He had it going for the first five seconds and after the first takedown, it was over.”
Kalu was 34-2 last season and has a 112-20 career record.
“We’ve seen him before and we know him well. We know he’s a talented kid and wrestles hard,” Oakland Mills coach Brad Howell said. “We were happy to get the match with them. It’s good to get tested by a good wrestler.”
Smith’s only other loss came to an out-of-state wrestler.
Western Tech coach Juan Solera has watched Kalu wrestle at 195, 220 and 285 and was seeking the best matchup.
“With Ike, a lot of people are ducking him in dual meets, so we wanted him to get the best match-up possible and I knew that kid was pretty tough,” Solera said.
After Alex Tomai pinned Western Tech’s Stefan Todd at 106, the Wolverines tied the match at 12-all when Darren Brown pinned Miles Williams in 1:26.
“He (Brown) is doing some really nice things, he’s coming along slowly, but surely,” Solera said.
The Scorpions, who have a 15-4 dual-meet record, proved to be tough throughout the lineup.
After a forfeit win from Jalen Cornelius (120), the gauntlet began with Isaiah Williams’ (126) pin 14 ticks into the first period.
At 132, Quan Dunscomb scored a 13-2 major decision over Will Scott for a 28-12 lead.
Hoping to get back into the match with Western Tech senior co-captain Martin Jaquet on the mat at 138, Jaquet was trailing Chase Williams, 2-0, in the second period when he suffered a dislocated elbow and had to be taken away by ambulance.
Steven Harrell (145) expanded the Scorpions lead to 40-12 with a first-period pin of Josh Martinez and a third-period fall by Dylan Watt (152) made it 46-12.
The 160-pound match between Oakland Mills’ Anthony Morales and Monte Mathews turned at the first-period buzzer when Morales ducked under and secured a takedown for a 2-0 lead.
He went on to a 13-1 major decision.
The 170-pound matchup between Western Tech’s Peter Jaquet and Rocco Delpo was even more compelling.
Jaquet got a double-leg takedown with 27 seconds left in the third period for a 5-4 lead, and 20 seconds later he was pinned by Delpo.
“We always talk about, you are never down and out, you never give up,” Howell said. “Try to overcome adversity, get down, it doesn’t look good, your struggling, keep fighting for it and sometimes good things come to those guys who keep their nose in the grindstone and keep fighting for it.”
A second-period pin by Stone Richardson at 182 secured the final points for the Scorpions.
Despite the loss, Kalu was optimistic for the future of his 4-7 dual-meet squad.
“Losses are learning experiences,” Kalu said. “Success isn’t about wins and losses, it’s about what you are going to gain from the match and what are you going to do in the next match.”
That’s something he recalls vividly from his loss to Farrow in the 2018 state finals.
“That is why you are going to be great this year,” Kalu said. “The name Farrow is why you are going to be the best among the best. That name is something that you know is a reminder to be humble because anybody can be beaten, no matter how good you think you are, there is always somebody who is going to be next level and that’s what is going to keep you motivated to get to the top.”