SHARPSVILLE — Lapel High School wrestling went undefeated as it took on four teams at the Tri-Central Invitational on Saturday, Jan. 14.
Harrison Hadley (106 pounds), Sparky Manis (113), Cully Upperman (126), Marc Fensler (138) and Phoenix Mills (170) remained undefeated in their individual matches.
Carroll High School was the first to challenge the Bulldogs, but the rebuilding Cougar team quickly lost the match 48-12 because of a series of forfeits.
Hadley, Manis, Upperman, Brayton Holdcraft (132), Fensler, Chris Lee (160), Mills, Hunter Morris (182) and Teague Scherer (285) took in the welcoming points for Lapel and moved on to the next dual.
Stepping up to the plate next was Faith Christian High School, and the Bulldogs wasted no time ending this match, either.
Hadley took a major decision victory against his Eagle opponent 14-4. Manis, Bryan Rodriguez (120), Upperman, Holdcraft, Fensler, Mills, and Morris took their victories in the form of forfeit points given up by the Eagles. Lee received his victory with a pin, giving the Bulldogs a final score of 52-12.
Up next, Lapel chalked up major forfeit points again from Clinton Prairie High School, giving the Bulldogs a total of 42 points in forfeits alone. Hadley swiftly defeated his Gopher opponent with a pin, giving Lapel the extra six points for a final score of 48-12.
With three matches already in the bag, Lapel took on its final opponent — Tri-Central High School.
Battling it out to see which team would place first, the Bulldogs and the Trojans put it all on the line.
Lapel was the first to place points on the board, with wins from Hadley and Manis, but the Trojans retaliated with a victory of their own shortly after in weight class 120.
Both teams traded pins and forfeit points, but in the end Upperman, Fensler, Mills and Scherer proved to be too strong for their Trojan challengers, giving Lapel the final points it needed to end the match 33-26.
The victory signals the first time Lapel has gone undefeated at an invitational in its 2016-17 season.
The Bulldogs moved on to Sheridan High School on Tuesday, Jan. 17 (after press time), in their final match before sectional.
As the Lapel wrestling team nears the end of its regular season, the Bulldogs set their sights on the explosive Anderson High School team on Tuesday, Jan. 10, but lost in a heartbreaking 40-33 defeat.
As the buzzer sounded signaling the start of the match, the Anderson Indians rushed out to form a warrior’s circle in the middle of the mat, but the Bulldogs made it known early they were not intimidated.
Hadley took the first win for the Bulldogs. He went all three periods in his match, but at the last minute scored reversal points, allowing him to collect the extra points needed to win.
Shortly after, Manis followed in Hadley’s footsteps, scoring reversal points in the last minute of his match for the Bulldog victory.
The Bulldogs were ahead 9-0.
Anderson responded with two pins of its own, giving it a brief lead, but Upperman evened the score out by earning a major decision victory during his match. Fensler took the mat next and gave the Bulldogs the lead they needed, pinning his Indian opponent in the third period.
The Bulldogs were back up 18-12.
But the celebration was short-lived, as forfeit points for weight class 152 were added to Anderson’s score.
Lee attempted to put Lapel back on top, but his victory fell one point short, and the Bulldogs were trailing 22-21.
“Overall, I thought we did a pretty great job. We trained hard for this,” Lee said.
“We need to step it up a notch in practice; we need to practice for sectionals.”
Mills and Scherer added points to the scoreboard for Lapel, just minutes apart, with pins of their own.
Mills participated in one of the more explosive matches of the night, going all three rounds until the final seconds ran out, both wrestlers fighting for glory.
“I knew it was going to be a tough fight,” Mills said. “I guess I was just more conditioned than him; he looked really tired.
“I just prepared for him like I do anybody else. I knew it was going to be a tough fight; I just tried to keep technique and everything.”
Lapel gave up an additional 12 forfeit points in weight classes 195 and 220, resulting in the team loss.
“The whole thing about wrestling, is that you just get a little bit better each day, week, or month,” Lapel head coach Jeff Commeville said. “We just try to get a little bit better — it’s a how-to-eat-an-elephant-one-bite-at-a-time kind of thing.
“We just try to get a little bit better in each aspect of this sport, and then the mental side of it will come. And I think we saw signs of the mental side tonight.”