Every team faces peaks and valleys through the course of any season. The Garaway Pirates wrestling team faced a mountain of a task as it came out of Christmas break and dove back into its wrestling season.
Garaway head coach Greg Miller didn’t pull any punches when he talked about his team’s chances coming into their wrestling match with a perennial power in Waynedale on Wednesday, Jan. 2 in Sugarcreek.
Miller said the Pirates knew coming in that the score could get lopsided in a hurry because they were already giving away six matches due to forfeit. In addition Garaway was minus district qualifiers Dylan Hershberger and Devan Petitte, who are battling knee injuries.
That left little doubt as to which team was going to win the team game, so it boiled down to the eight matches that were contested.
It was all Waynedale as the Golden Bears rolled 72-6, but it was more about the individual matches than it was about the team score for Miller.
“They had a full squad; we had eight guys, so we were giving up 36 points to forfeit before the match even began,” Miller said. “I just told our kids to wrestle hard and smart and wrestle for themselves, and it was a good learning opportunity because of our opponent.”
Garaway’s Kyle Miller won a 6-3 decision over Caiden Heller to give the Pirates a 3-0 lead. Then the walls fell in as the Golden Bears reeled off five straight wins, three by forfeit and two by fall. At 126 pounds Storm Stanley quickly disposed of Kyle Schlabach in 26 seconds, and Golden Bear Bailey Lemon pinned Garaway’s Heinrich Asbury in 1:16.
At 145 pounds Garaway’s Christian Wright then turned in a nice effort, pulling away late to earn a 9-3 decision over Waynedale’s Justin Hershberger.
That would be the Pirates’ final victory of the night. At 152 pounds Waynedale’s Kane Murray took down Andon Keller in 55 seconds. Golden Bear Max Lemon then disposed of Garaway’s Leighton Raber.
At 170 pounds Waynedale star Micah Hershberger was entrenched in a spirited battle with Pirate Spencer Miday. Hershberger was in charge, but Miday was hanging tough, fending off Hershberger, until with just 15 seconds left Hershberger finally broke through to pin Miday.
“We’ve got a pretty green team this year, so I was interested to see how we performed against some really good competition tonight,” Miller said. “I thought Spencer really fought hard tonight against a kid who was a state runner-up last year. He battled, and he almost took him through the six minutes. We had some other kids do some good things tonight too. We will be proud of the stuff we did right, look at the film and see what we did wrong and learn from it and improve and fix those things.”
David Satterfield of Waynedale battled Garaway’s Corey Gerber at 182 pounds, which put another win by fall in the Golden Bears’ column at 3:01. Garaway then forfeited the final three weight classes, and the Golden Bears had a very strong 72-6 team win. Waynedale also captured wins in six of the eight contested matches.
For Waynedale head coach Louie Stanley, the match was a good way to get back into wrestling mode after Christmas break.
“We’re jumping right back into action very quickly after the break, but that is OK because we have to get back to work some time, so it may as well be now,” Stanley said.
With his team roaring toward a rival contest with West Holmes on Saturday, Stanley said it was a good test to dive back into competition with a perennially challenging Pirates team.
“Like everyone we’ve got some guys beat up tonight, but overall we’re happy where we’re at, but at the same time we can get better, and there is still a lot of season left,” Stanley said. “We’ve got a nice mix this year up and down, and we are a little green up at the top, but overall this is a good mix even though we are younger than we’ve been in years. The Garaway team is a nice way for us to get back into action. They’ve got a nice program, and they have some injury issues, but they have tough, football-type players who are physical, so this was good for us.”
Miller said the year has been full of ups and downs, bumps and bruises and injuries, which really hurts the Pirates because it is two of their veteran leaders who are out.
“We have time left, and we have time to come together as a team and get better,” Miller said. “Our focus is on February. That is the only thing that matters. Hopefully Dylan and Devan will return well before tournament time. Right now we have to wrestle with who we have, so we will keep working hard with the guys who we send out there.”