Urbana downs Middletown in thriller -- Gazette.Net Photos from Wednesday's match

" /> Photos from Wednesday's match

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A luminescent glow was cast upon the spectators as a massive spotlight above the dark blue mat directed everyone's attention to the center of the gymnasium.

The light, bright enough to spread itself to the edge of the wrestling mat but no further, reflected off a canopy of white and blue balloons that Urbana High School's wrestlers walked under before meeting their opponents on Wednesday.

This was fight night at Urbana. There was blood. There was a chipped tooth. And ultimately, there was another celebration by the Hawks after beating rival Middletown, 35-29, to lock up the top-seed in next week's Class 4A/3A North Region Duals and a chance to defend their 2011-12 title.

In one of the more exciting matches of the regular season, both teams won seven matches, but the Hawks prevailed by earning more bonus points.

“Those guys, every day they push each other,” Hawks coach Ben Arneson said. “They force themselves to get better and it's great to see it all come together.”

The result was in question until the final bout of the evening between Urbana's Tyler Makosy and Middletown's Josh Grossnickle. The Hawks led Middletown, 32-29, coming into the 113-pound bout. Makosy, a sophomore, ensured Urbana wouldn't lose the lead twice in the same meet.

“I just try not to think of the team score,” said Makosy. His brother, Jake, also won a crucial match minutes before against Brennan Lincoln at 106. “Coach tells us to wrestle every match like it's our state championship match. I just tried to stay focused and block out the crowd and everything. I knew I had to go in there and just wrestle smart. I was very careful with what I did and how I did it, and it paid off I guess.”

With the win, the Hawks (13-1) also dealt a serious blow to Middletown's postseason hopes. With two dual meets remaining and a 10-2 record, the Knights must win twice and then depend on tiebreakers to know if they'll make the postseason.

“They're a tough team, a quality team,” Middletown coach Jim Schartner said. “We knew that going it. We knew it would be a four- or five-point difference.”

The loss is the second gut-wrenching defeat for Middletown in less than a week. Saturday, the Knights saw their perfect record blemished in a loss to Oakdale — the only team to beat Urbana this season.

Schartner said he thought his group wrestled better on Wednesday than Saturday.

Urbana's usually-dominant wrestlers did their part as Morgan Way (120), Nick Frank (138) and Nick Keller (285) all recorded falls.

After the match, a visibly exhausted Arneson — his tie was undone and white dress shirt untucked — was particularly pleased with the efforts of two wrestlers who lost their matches: senior Robbie Fitzgerald and freshman 220-pounder Andreas Silva.

Fitzgerald entered the 182-pound match against Brian Rose with two front teeth. When it was over, he had one-and-a-half. In the second period, Fitzgerald tried to counter a takedown attempt by Rose when his head dipped and his tooth caught Rose above his eyebrow. Rose's forehead began pouring blood and Fitzgerald lay on the mat in pain. Fitzgerald chipped his front tooth and Rose had a nasty gash. There was a five-minute delay for Rose to be bandaged well enough to continue.

Once wrestling resumed, the white gauze wrapped around Rose's head began to show blood. Rose pushed through the pain and won the match, 6-3, in what was the last of five consecutive victories by the Knights. Arneson, however, applauded Fitzgerald for his efforts.

“To lose your tooth in the middle of the match and want to come out and keep fighting — that says something,” Arneson said.

Added Fitzgerald: “Coach was speaking inspirationally to me. He told me, 'You're Robbie Fitzgerald. This is your moment. This is senior night.' Every match was just great.”

After Urbana took a 16-3 lead, Middletown's Andrew Clearwood (145) triggered the Knights' comeback attempt with a pin of Parker Mellott. The Knights took the lead when Tucker Ziegler, the younger brother of last year's undefeated state champion, Judd, pinned Alex Faucette at 160.

But following Rose's victory, Urbana won four of the final five matches, including a forfeit victory by Mike Virnelson and the pair of wins by the Makosys.

“I really believe we got to see what we're close to doing [again] this evening,” Arneson said of the possibility of advancing to the state duals. “God willing, if the boys keep working like they've been working, we'll go and we'll do it again.”

ncammarota@gazette.net



Urbana 35, Middletown 29

120: Morgan Way (U) f. Tyler Kishimoto (M), 5:12

126: Jimmy Allen (U) m.d. Greg Cox (M), 13-4

132: Hayden Roberts (M) d. Brian Dailey (U), 5-1

138: Nick Frank (U) f. David Lee (M), 1:51

145: Andrew Clearwood (M) f. Parker Mellott (U), 2:55

152: Matt Capobianco (M) t.f. JT Freeze (U), 19-4

160: Tucker Ziegler (M) f. Alex Faucette (U), 1:20

170: Derek Bain (M) d. Sean Maginnis (U), 6-0

182: Brian Rose (M) d. Robbie Fitzgerald (U), 6-3

195: Mike Virnelson (U) for.

220: Blake Lincoln (M) d. Andreas Silva (U), 9-4

285: Nick Keller (U) d. Alex Chung (M), 1:50

106: Jake Makosy (U) m.d. Brennan Lincoln (M), 14-4

113: Tyler Makosy (U) d. Josh Grossnickle (M), 4-1