Western Wayne hangs on to win a wild match and claim this year's Division II title
Hundreds of local wrestling fans traveled to Mountain View Wednesday night for a Lackawanna League match that will be remembered as one of the most exciting in recent history.
Western Wayne and Honesdale squared off in a showdown destined to decide this year’s Division II regular season title.
And, what a match it was!
The Wildcats and Hornets battled right down to the wire ... and when the final buzzer sounded on the final bout ... nothing had been settled.
Incredibly, the match score stood deadlocked 32-32.
Not a soul was sitting as the coaches and referees gathered at the scorer’s table and officials began reviewing all the tiebreaking procedures.
A heavy hush descended on the gym for several minutes until Western Wayne Head Coach Dante Terenzio turned to face the throng and smiled.
Pandemonium erupted on his side of the mat and, just seconds later, it was official. The scoreboard was updated one last time. It read: Western Wayne 33, Honesdale 32.
“I’m very proud of this team,” Coach Terenzio said.
“They’ve worked incredibly hard. We have so many youngsters this year and I think some people kind of wrote us of because of that. I may be the only person in this gym that always believed we could do this.
“I never doubted them. I'm with them every day and I know how hard they work and what they're capable of.”
Wednesday's winner-take-all match began at 126 pounds and Western Wayne wasted no time carving out an early lead.
Dillon Dante powered his way to a 4-1 decision over Chris McDevitt.
Mitchell Herzog quickly increased the Wildcat advantage, with a pin at 132. Herzog needed less than a minute to clamp Ethan Choshki (:59) and push the lead to 9-0.
Honesdale finally got on the board at 138 in one of the match’s most electrifying bouts.
Matt Davis and Brad Carey went toe-to-toe through three wild and woolly periods, only to see the score tied 13-13 at the end of regulation.
Then, less than a minute into sudden death, Davis tallied a takedown that brought a roar from the Hornet faithful and a 15-13 decision.
Western Wayne retaliated quickly, though, as freshman phenom Matt Leslie recorded a fall at 145. Leslie put Joey Rutledge on his back and sealed the deal at the :47 mark.
Braden McIntosh kept the momentum going. The battle-tested senior hammered out a brutally physical 8-4 win over Brandon Lawson at 152.
Moments later, another of the Wildcats’ talented youngsters strode to the mat and made it three straight.
Kasen Taylor muscled his way to a an impressive 11-3 major decision over AJ Steffens at 160.
With the score now 22-3, Honesdale appeared to be on the ropes. However, the Hornets began chipping away at that deficit with a stellar performance at 170.
Senior Michael O’Day delivered a crucial clamp, pinning Anthony Sparango in a time of 2:40.
Western Wayne then proceeded to hand over a forfeit to Gerald Pepper at 182, narrowing the gap to seven points at 22-15.
It was at this point in the match that Alex Hollister authored a clutch win for the Wildcats.
The sophomore worked hard to get his weight up and qualify to wrestle at 195. He barely got there, cresting the 173-pound mark in time for weigh-ins before the match.
Still, this left Hollister facing a much heavier opponent in Honesdale's Jake Kabonick who pinned him at districts last year.
Nevertheless, Alex delivered one of his best performances of the season, posting a wild 20-12 win, good for four team points.
Trailing by a score of 26-15, Honesdale turned to senior John Kuhns-Miller. A fan favorite who sports an unorthodox style, Kuhns-Miller came through with a second period pin at 220 (3:01).
With the team score now 26-21, the stage was set for the start of an historic night for one Wildcat grappler.
Cole Fuller enjoyed an unforgettable evening at Mountain View.
Not only did the senior roll to an easy win against Honesdale at 285, he set a pair of new school records in the process.
Fuller notched falls over Kenny Huber and Mountain View's Tyler Zech. In so doing, he became the winningest wrestler in Western Wayne history with a total of 127.
He also now owns 100 career pins, a rarely-attained varsity milestone.
Tristyn Bodie and Peter West powered a Honesdale comeback that led to the match's deciding moment.
Bodie is just a freshman, but has already reached 20 wins for the year. On Wednesday, he made Dimitri Reggie his latest victim by way of a 12-1 major decision.
West followed with a clutch win of his own, dealing Michael Mirailh-DeVore an 8-2 loss.
Western Wayne's George Lee then stepped up and played the role of unlikely hero on this particular evening.
A freshman with very little mat experience, Lee had one mission: avoid a tech fall or pin at all costs. And he did just that against Jordan Young.
George fought off one attack after another, suffering a 15-6 major decision. In so doing, though, Lee preserved a Western Wayne win by the narrowest of margins.
“George just started organized wrestling a little while ago,” Coach Terenzio said. “And, I can count on one hand the number of wins he had last year.
“But, he insisted that he was coming up to varsity as a freshman. I love his energy and his enthusiasm.”