Leaving for a road trip knowing victory is virtually assured can have its concerns.
Such was the case with the Homer Central wrestling team Wednesday when it headed south for its non-league matchup with rival Cortland High. The Purple Tigers have a shortage of wrestlers this season, so much so that the Trojans were the beneficiaries of seven forfeits in what ended up a 72-6 victory.
“We talked about that,” said Homer coach Jason Reynolds, his team now 3-2 overall. “Going against a team that’s not at full strength is almost harder to deal with; you totally have to focus on your approach, and control what you can control. As long as our guys were good with that I was confident.”
On the other side of the coin, Cortland coach Mike Ten Kate, his team now 0-2, said that “We knew we were going to take some hits, that it would be tough. Homer is very well-coached; I’ve known Jason for a long time and he does a great job. They’re a tough team. But our guys worked their tails off against tough wrestlers.
“We have a lot of freshmen and sophomores, so they’re learning; it’s new to them. With 11 wrestlers in all we need every guy at practice with the coaches on the mat, too. We hope that people come out and see these matches, the little guys coming up and the modified wrestlers so they’ll stay with it. We’re trying to keep bodies and get bodies.”
While the Trojans got 42 points from forfeits, they had four pins and two decisions to Cortland’s one pin for a 30-6 advantage in contested matches. The tone was set in the first match of the night, at 138 pounds, where freshman David Morse broke a 4-4 tie with a reversal with six seconds left and then earned two quick back points for his first varsity win, 8-4 over CHS junior Noah Wurst.
“When he had me down late I was exhausted,” Morse said. “I looked up and saw the coaches telling me to get up, and I knew there wasn’t much time left. I got up on fire, and felt the adrenaline. It was a good match; he (Wurst) us very skilled. It really feels good to get my first varsity win against Cortland.”
The next-to-last match, at 126, saw Trojans freshman Carter Monroe register his first varsity win as well, 12-6 over Purple Tiger freshman F.J. Ott. Monroe trailed 2-0 in the first period before getting a reversal and three back points for a 5-2 lead going into the second and never looked back.
“He beat me last year, so I had to come back and win to prove myself to the coaches,” Morse said. “It feels great that my first varsity win came against Cortland; I wouldn’t rather it be against any other team.”
Reynolds noted that junior Kaiden Haynes, who transferred from Cortland after the last school year, could easily have wrestled but knew how important the match was to Monroe and went to 120, where he got a forfeit. “He’s a phenomenal teammate,” Reynolds said of Haynes. “He understood that Carter earned it.”
Homer got pins from senior Gabe Cline, in 3:22 over freshman Luca Canzano at 145; senior Josh Markley, who trailed 5-0 before flattening CHS freshman Brycen Palmer in 2:45 at 152; senior Lane Quaile in 2:12 over sophomore Jarrod Bush at 170 and junior Zack Duff in 3:43 in 132 over junior Gildon Case.
Forfeits went to senior Charles Lines at 160, eighth-grader Sam Sorenson at 182; freshman Tayvn Malchak at 195; freshman Collin Stevens at 99, senior Sean Powers at 106; sophomore Jacob Rice at 113 and Haynes at 120.
Cortland’s only points came at 285, where sophomore Logan King built a 7-0 lead and then pinned Homer freshman Raiden Sturdevant in 5:20. “When I was on top it felt like he was getting tired,” King said. He was breathing heavier and heavier, so I thought it was a matter of time. I went out with a positive attitude and thought I was going to win. It ended up going well for me. It definitely feels really good to get my first win against Homer.”
“Logan is young, so we go over the basics a lot,” Ten Kate said. “He’s getting used to wrestling at the varsity and JV level after being in Modified. It’s big that he got a pin like that for his first varsity win.”
Homer will next compete in Saturday’s Otselic Valley Vikings Duals, which start at 9 a.m. Cortland visits Jamesville-DeWitt/CBA this Wednesday at 5 p.m. in its SCAC Empire Division opener.