For many high school wrestling teams, the winter is filled with loads of travel time as they bounce from one tournament to the next, getting very few chances to wrestle in the confines of their own home.
The Garaway Pirates got to experience some good old-fashioned home cooking when it hosted the annual Peg Leg Scuffle Saturday, January 28, and while the Pirates didn’t emerge victorious, they did work their way into a nice third-place finish in a tough field, and three Pirates took home the gold.
Included in those three champions were Tanner Petitte, Jerod Hunt and Grant Hershberger, and three other wrestlers grabbed a top-four spot.
“This is an event our school and community and our kids can really wrap their arms around and be proud of,” said Garaway coach Sedric Gerber. “The kids really get excited about competing here at home.”
Gerber said the third-place finish is fairly consistent with what the team has done this season, and while they have won the Peg Leg in the past, he noted that they continue to up the ante in terms of competition, which makes it tougher to win, but helps his team grow and improve at the same time.
“When we bring in good competition that is going to happen, but we relish the idea of competing against great competition,” Gerber said.
Minerva left Sugarcreek with the championship trophy while Waterloo took runner-up honors, followed by the host Pirates. “With limited number of opportunities to wrestle at home, especially this year more than any other, since it feels like we have been on the road all year, they do get excited about being able to compete here in front of their home fans, and that tends to get kids pretty pumped up.”
Wrestling at 145-ponds, Petitte looked strong in carving up all five of his opponents after receiving a first-round bye. Petitte recorded three fall wins before defeating Seth McGee of Minerva 2-0 in the finals. It has been a tough haul for the senior, who suffered an injury in Garaway’s regional football contest, but Gerber said his state alternate from last year is back to his old form.
“It has been a struggle to get back to the high level he was competing at last year, but it feels like he is all the way back now and wrestling well,” Gerber said of Petitte.
Hunt, wrestling at 160-pounds, also blew through his five opponents to capture a title. He recorded four straight fall wins before squaring off with Minerva’s Jay Chaddock in the finals. There, he fought valiantly and escaped with a close 7-6 win.
Hershberger took top honors at 170-pounds, and also won all five matches. His day included four fall wins and then a 16-6 major decision over Minerva’s Kaleb George.
Gunnar Angel took third-place at 182-pounds, fashioning a 4-1 record, including a convincing 16-6 major decision over Harrison Central’s Blayne Erwin in his third-place battle.
Weston Woods also took third wrestling at 195-pouds. He went 4-1 and looked solid with four pin wins.
Leighton Raber (152-pounds) went 3-2, as did Dylan Hershberger at 138-pounds, and Devin Petitte at 106-pounds, while Lucas Maurer (132-pounds) went 2-2.
Dillon Rothacher went 2-3 at 126-pounds, while Cody Hostetler (285), Kyle Schlabach and Ben Koshmider all earned one win.