January 10, 2013
Purple Tigers tripped up
Fulton takes mat showdown, 49-17
Wednesday night’s showdown between the only two wrestling teams that had yet to taste defeat in the OHSL Freedom Division proved to be something of a happy homecoming for Fulton coach Chris Stalker.
The 2004 SUNY Cortland alumnus and former Red Dragon football fullback, in his first year at the helm of the Red Raiders, saw his squad roll to a 49-17 win over host Cortland High in the CHS lower gym.
The perennial powerhouse from Oswego County improved to 3-0 in the league and 17-10 overall, while the Purple Tigers are now 2-1 league and 21-3 overall.
“We were surprised at the final margin,” Stalker said afterwards. “This is the best we’ve wrestled all year. We had good hard-working practices preparing for Cortland. They’re a very well-coached team that has high-quality kids and has wrestled well all year. we wanted to give them rhe respect they deserve.
“Our kids were in a tough battle.”
“We wrestled poorly,” Purple Tigers coach Dave Darrow said. “It should have been a good match, but it wasn’t, so now we’ll get ready to go to the (Hannibal Dual Meet) tournament Saturday. We just wrestled flat and never really got going. We needed to win the first two weight classes to have a chance, because they outmatch us down in the lower weights.”
The match started at 220 pounds with one of Cortland’s few bright spots, as senior Kevin Parker scored a 10-0 major decision over Matt Marshall to improve to 13-4 this season.
CHS senior Paul Turco, who came into the night with 99 career wins and a 21-1 record this season, was bumped up to 285 by Darrow to go against Fulton’s Brennan Roberge and got the first two points of the bout on a reversal 18 seconds into the second. Roberge, however, tied it by the end of that stanza and went on to score a 5-4 decision, upping his mark to 21-5.
“I wish I would have known,” the Red Raider senior said with a smile when informed of Turco’s delayed milestone. “It would have put more pressure on me, but also given me more incentive. It’s just about conditioning and pressure at heavyweight, who can tire the other guy out and make him not want to shoot.
“He’d beaten me before, but he wrestled a little different this time. He seemed a little more cautious.”
Roberge’s victory was the first of five straight for the visitors and gave them the lead for good. CHS sophomore Grant Tinker broke that string at 126 in the most competitive match of the night.After nearly pinning freshman Jon Earl at the end of the first period, Tinker led 7-0 early in the second before Earl scored the next nine points to go up 9-7. Tinker then got s reversal with 30 seconds left to tie the match at 9-9, and scored two back points, awarded at the buzzer, to win 11-9 and improve to 20-2 on the season.
Fulton led 21-7 at that point, and the next match went a long way toward sealing the verdict. Cortland senior Zack Alexander came into the night with a 22-1 record and was bumped up to 132 to take on Fulton junior Brandon Hill. Alexander was in control, leading 3-0, when Hill got a takedown 25 seconds into the second period and pinned him seven seconds later to up his record to 21-6 on the season.
“Zack got stepped over (at the end),” Darrow said. He got the takedown in the first and maybe some back points, but didn’t get anything there.”
“I just kept on battling and worked hard the whole match,” Hill said. “I used my hips, mostly, and just focused on not getting down. The (final score) was pretty shocking, but we came together and worked hard. I’m proud that we did so well.”
Senior Ryan Webber earned the Purple Tigers’ last mat-action points when he scored a 13-3 major decision over the Red Raider senior Mike Eddy at 138, scoring the first seven points and never looking back to improve to 21-3 on the season, with 95 career wins.
Leading 27-11, Fulton then then won the next five weight classes via two pins, a major decision and two decisions to go up 49-11 before CHS senior Antonio Bustamante was awarded a forfeit at 195 to close things out.
“We’ve gone through some adversity;. Any time there’s a change there will be some,” said Stalker, who got his current position when long-time Fulton coach Mike Conners left last summer to take the athletic director’s job at Oswego High. “We’ve had some injuries as well as disciplinary and academic issues, and are still missing one starter due to injury and another because of academics. It was an honor to come back to the town I’d spent a lot of time in. It gave me some extra incentive.”
After Saturday’s tournament action Cortland hosts Mexico Tuesday in another league contest, the exhibition matches set to start at 5:30 p.m.
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