Wednesday's postseason wrestling dual match between Oakdale High School and North Carroll didn't just come down to the final bout, it came down to the final seconds
With the match tied, North Carroll's Andrew Merrill held off Oakdale freshman Ryan Shubert and escaped with a 2-0 victory to defeat the Bears, 34-31, in the semifinal round of the Class 2A/1A West Region Duals in Westminster.
“There was a lot of pressure on him but he battled. He was within striking distance at the end of the match and he gave himself a chance to win, and that's all you can really ask for in that type of situation,” Oakdale co-coach T.J. Salb said.
Shubert fought until the end, but Merrill's defensive strategy was too much for the freshman.
“I thought he almost had it at the end there, I was getting excited,” Oakdale senior Ryan Simonica said.
The Bears trailed 31-19 and needed victories in their final three matches to advance to the finals. They got two of them, with Nic Przybocki (138 pounds) pinning North Carroll's Brandon Yelton in 38 seconds and Josh Loveless (145) pinning Ryland Chapman in the penultimate match.
Oakdale fell behind early, but Simonica (185) pinned North Carroll's Tyler Carney to give the Bears a 13-12 lead. The Panthers then won four of the next five matches, including Connor Waskiewicz's 8-6 win over Dakota Harich in the 126-pound weight class.
“Their guys wrestled and they won a couple of those close matches. They got some pins at the last couple seconds and those close matches are what separate [teams] in these dual meets,” Salb said.
Added Simonica: “It doesn't come down to one person. Everyone could have done a little bit better, that's what would have won that match. Not one single person in the last minute trying to pull us out of the gutter.”
The Bears' season continues with the county tournament, where several of their wrestlers are expected to advance. This includes Simonica, a returning county champion, Anthony Savage, Jonah Loveless, Josh Loveless and Nic Przybocki.
“These are guys who have been leading us all year for the past couple years. They're motivated, they've got a lot of success this year so far. So we're looking for them to carry it on over into the tournament,” Salb said.
North Carroll 34, Oakdale 31
160: Billy Fritz (N) d. Jonah Loveless (O), 7-3
170: Eddie Merrill (N) f. Barrett White (O), 1:45
182: T.J. Barnes (O) m.d. Jake Justice (N), 8-0
195: Jake Seipp (N) d. Bobby Miller (O), 11-4
220: Tyler McGraw (O) d. Dana Raver (N), 8-2
285: Ryan Simonica (O) f. Tyler Carney (N), 1:48
106: Owen Rill (N) f. Tyler Fuller (O), 2:47
113: Dean Rill (N) m.d. Michael Adams (O), 11-0
120: Anthony Savage (O) f. Drew Fritz (N) 1:21
126: Connor Waskiewicz (N) d. Dakota Harich (O), 8-6
132: Brice Hardesty (N) f. Jaden Hawes (O), 1:59
138: Nic Przybocki (O) f. Brandon Yelton (N), 0:38
145: Josh Loveless (O) f. Ryland Chapman (N), 1:09
152: Andrew Merrill (N) d. Ryan Shubert (O), 2-0