By Brady Extin | The Times-Post
GREENFIELD — Wednesday, Nov. 23 was an emotional night inside Dellen Automotive Gymnasium when Pendleton Heights and Greenfield-Central met on the wrestling mat.
For the second season, the two teams were competing for the memorial toolbox trophy honoring late Pendleton Heights coach Eric Kriebel and G-C coach Ed Hamant.
Prior to the start of the meet, Greenfield-Central head coach Josh Holden spoke to the crowd about both coaches and what they meant to each program, and Pendleton Heights head coach Dave Cloud presented Greenfield-Central with a memorial plaque honoring Hamant and his accomplishments throughout his career.
Although coaches of opposite teams, off the mat, Cloud and Holden are good friends.
“It all means a lot because those guys meant a lot,” Cloud said.
With tears in his eyes, Holden read the final line on the plaque to a silent crowd.
“No other individual has given so much to the G-C wrestling program as coach Ed. His legacy will forever live on in the hearts and minds of those lucky enough to have called him coach, mentor and friend.”
While the Arabians were looking to gain control of the memorial toolbox for the first time, Greenfield-Central had one goal in mind — to keep the toolbox trophy at Greenfield-Central.
They did just that, knocking off the Arabians 46-27.
“The only thing we talked about afterwards was that you don’t know how long you’re going to be here. Coach Hamant coached here for 40 years and he didn’t expect it to be over. You just don’t know,” Holden said. “The one thing I really wanted was to just keep that trophy. It’s important for us to keep that here for his memory.”
With emotions running high, Pendleton Heights jumped out to an early lead, but just couldn’t keep that momentum going.
After an Eli Libler pin over G-C’s Owen Howell at 220 pounds, and two consecutive forfeits by the Cougars, the Arabians found themselves up 18-6 within just a few minutes.
“I was impressed with the way Eli wrestles,” Cloud said. “He’s got a lot of heart and soul and wrestles that way all the time.”
The Cougars responded quickly though, winning three of the next four matches by pin.
At 120 pounds, G-C’s Jett McGuire pinned Pendleton Heights sophomore Elijah Wolf, at 132 Dylan Luther pinned sophomore Alex Heineman in period one, and at 138 Kannon Zuber pinned Blaine Bowman.
The fourth loss for the Arabians over that stretch came when G-C’s Cade Zuber defeated Max Bowers by decision 7-4 at 126 pounds.
“We had one guy asking the referee to stop the match and then tried a poorly timed move, got put on our back and pinned. That’s a match we should have won there,” Cloud said. “At 126 we wore the guy out, he was absolutely exhausted and we took a bad shot and got taken down. That’s just inexperience with a couple of sophomores there. At 132 we had a good shot too, but he slid his knees out and got put on his back as well. If we win all three of those, that’s 18 points off of them and nine points for us.”
In a key match to get Pendleton Heights back into things, at 145 pounds junior Jack Todd defeated G-C’s Cohen Hager by major decision.
Down just eight points, Pendleton Heights’ Chris Crank squared off against G-C’s John Ubelhor in the 160 pound class, in a match that was one of the biggest turning points of the night.
Crank controlled periods one and two and entered the final period in control of the match 5-2, but in the blink of an eye it was Ubelhor making a move to secure the pin and help push G-C out to a commanding lead.
“He got a little over-excited trying to pin the guy, and instead pinned himself,” Cloud said. “That was a big turn obviously, and in some of those lower weight classes with our younger guys we could have won, but the pin at 160 was the dagger.”
With things out of reach, the Arabians took just one of the remaining three matches. Pendleton Heights’ Garrett Pederson defeated G-C’s Adam Saxon by pin at 182, while Jameson Walford was pinned by G-C’s Clay Guenin at 170 pounds and Nate Walls fell to Tristen Lanum by major decision.
The Arabians next meet is Saturday, Dec. 3 in the New Castle Invitational. The action kicks off at 8:30 a.m. at New Castle High School.