Mustangs stun cross-county rivals

LE GRAND – Things didn’t play out as the Mustangs projected in their first dual Thursday.

So there was no point in following convention for what was expected in their last.

Bouncing back after losses to Denver-Tripoli and Class 2A No. 14 Grinnell, the East Marshall/GMG wrestling team rallied past cross county rival West Marshall for a 34-33 victory in the East Marshall/GMG quadrangular.

Trailing by two with the final match already in progress, the Mustangs (15-9, 10-2) pulled ahead for the win as Nick Long defeated the Trojans’ Renald Bouchard by an 11-4 decision at 160 pounds. Both teams lined the mat in a thrilling finish for the Mustangs, which started slow out of the gates with a 34-30 loss to Denver-Tripoli in round one before showing improvement in a 44-30 loss to Grinnell.

“On paper we thought we should have been able to take the victory with Denver-Tripoli, but our kids just didn’t wrestle,” said East Marshall/GMG coach Troy Underhill. “They just didn’t have their game in that first dual and I thought they came back and wrestled the second dual against Grinnell very well.”

Underhill also gave a quick pep talk to his team in the locker room and reminded them the last dual would be won on the mat.

“On paper we were probably the underdogs to West Marshall without one of our starters in there,” said Underhill, who used that to motivate his team. “I said, ‘Hey, paper means nothing. It’s on the mat and let’s do it.’ They were excited, they were ready and they showed it on the mat. I’m proud of them.”

The Mustangs twice led by 12 with Class 2A No. 10 Troy Underhill (126) pinning Cooper White in 1 minute, 25 seconds to secure a 24-12 advantage for the Mustangs. Lane Walton earned a late reversal to pin Christopher Sjoblom at 182, while No. 8 Nick Meling (106) added a win by fall over Ross Randall.

“You just can’t give up falls,” said West Marshall coach Lonnie Ferguson. “If we didn’t give up falls, we won that.”

Jared Bowman added a 6-1 overtime victory at heavyweight and Steve Proffitt (120) posted a 14-3 major decision against Austin Grimm as the Mustangs needed every last point.

Class 1A No. 6 Cole Needham (113), Chad Berrey (138) and No. 3 Dale Hilleman (170) each recorded pins for West Marshall, with Hilleman’s win by fall giving West Marshall its first lead at 33-31 before all eyes shifted over to the other end of the gymnasium.

“They were definitely more aggressive and you could tell they were ready for it,” Coach Underhill said of his team’s approach against the Trojans.

“Maybe it’s because it’s the rival, but maybe sometimes we just have to get on them a little bit more to get them ready. They were definitely fired up.”

Long led 8-3 entering the third period before tacking on three more points, raising his arms and rushing over to his teammates.

It was the fourth meet in a week for West Marshall and Ferguson pointed to that fact as one reason his team wasn’t quite at its best.

“It’s just been a rough week, wrestling flat,” Ferguson said. “We’ve had too much wrestling in one week. It’s hard to do that and keep coming back. We tried to battle back but it just wasn’t there. You can’t give up falls.”

The Trojans gave the 14th-ranked Tigers all they could handle in a 35-30 setback before rebounding with a 34-30 triumph over the Titans.

White and Randall each tallied a pin and major decision in the first two rounds, while Jared Johnson, Needham, Berrey and Hilleman each finished 3-0 on the day.

Meling, Proffitt, Underhill and Max Upah (138/145) all carried unbeaten marks through the meet for EM/GMG.

East Marshall/GMG will host the Mustang Duals Saturday in Le Grand, while the Trojans travel to the I-35 Tournament Saturday in Truro.