Photo gallery and story by Chris Brooks, sports editor, wellsvillesports.com
WELLSVILLE — Fresh off what was their first taste of tournament splendor this past weekend on their home mat, a giant boost of great vehemence was set in motion for the Wellsville Lions grapplers. Back inside their old stomping grounds at the Elementary School across town for the first time in a few years, day one of a new campaign had arrived.
On Tuesday, the Lions had hoped the glorious weekend would continue building up over the course of time with many tough challenges ahead, including a visit from the Addison Knights to open up their regular season — a test that wasn’t easy by any means.
It was a start that the hosts wanted to begin the night with to grab the early advantage on the Knights. One that was slimmed down entering the lightweight bouts, when the visitors in maroon began to tighten the pistons with pinfall wins in three consecutive matches to trim their deficit down to within a stone’s throw of their opposition.
As the page flipped into the later stages, the heat was on. But it was something that senior Jayden Acker handled quickly and efficiently.
With Addison beginning to close in on the Lions with minimal time remaining in the evening, Acker put a halt to all of the momentous energy that the Knights established with one of the quickest pinfalls of the evening against Noah Vall at 145 pounds. His win would then set off a match-ending streak of wins, four in a row to be exact, to help close out Wellsville’s successful regular season debut with a 59-18 win in front of a packed home crowd.
“We’re excited to start off back in the Elementary School again. It’s one of many changes we’re excited and glad for,” said Lions coach Tyler Carman. “Everything that happened this weekend with our tournament, it carried over into tonight. We’re excited about that, but we still have a ton of work to do. We’re still shaking off some of the rust from some of these weight classes, and we’re still looking to finalize our lineup. We had some new guys gain some great experience out there, and they did a great job with it.”
The evening would begin with Lions (1-0) senior standout Shane Davidson at 215 pounds, and what a brilliant start it was. One of Wellsville’s premier wrestlers wasted no time making his impact known with seven fast points out of the gate. The score would gradually build up until no more could be posted on the board, as Davidson settled for a 15-0 technical fall victory over Addison’s Camden Mahnke to break the ice.
Carman said with a senior like Davidson, he was more than pleased with the start he was able to garner.
“Any time we can put a senior with that much experience on the mat like Shane Davidson has to start the match, that’s going to bring some great energy to the guys and this gym,” he said. “We know that he works hard for matches like this. We trust him and he is able to get the job done. He’s a great kid, not just as a wrestler, but as a student. You can ask anyone, they would tell you the same thing about him. That’s the most exciting part about his character.”
The start continued on with three more victories in a row, including the quickest pin of the night for the Lions immediately after Davidson’s dominant beginning. Evin Rought was responsible for it during his bout at 285 pounds, as he picked up the pinfall win in just 39 seconds to add to the lead.
After Blake Geffers and Jayden Acker each added forfeit wins at 102 and 110 pounds, it was Addison’s turn to get on the board.
The Knights would account for the next three wins in a row, all via pinfall, beginning with Justin Wise and his second round takedown against David Clark at 118 pounds. The takedown would then put him in a position to record the pinfall victory with 53 seconds remaining in the period to claim the team’s first victory. One match later, the fastest pin of the night from Jacob Howe, as he tallied a 35-second pin of Hayden Cunningham at 126 pounds.
Cade Sands would then add one final victory for the visitors at 132 pounds, cutting their deficit down to five with a pinfall triumph of his own in 49 seconds during the opening round over Jack Cicirello.
“Addison has a great group of kids, and we know they’re going to bring a tough fight every year that we face them,” Carman said. “They came prepared, and their three lightweights are some of their most competitive kids over there. We knew that coming in, but we did what we could. But with Brayden (Riley) coming in at 145, he stepped it up for us to get us right back in the match to put us where we needed to be.”
But then the momentum was halted, as Wellsville would seize control once and for all. They can thank Brayden Riley for that.
After a Landon Stratton forfeit win at 138 pounds for the Lions, another stellar case of senior leadership would blossom into perhaps a match-changing exchange of power, as Riley took care of business at 145 pounds in the midst of a scrappy tussle with Addison’s Noah Vall in just 44 seconds to regain traction on their advantage, ultimately for good.
The win was one of five straight that Wellsville would close out the night with, including a bounty of second period points from Matt Ritter at 152 pounds, recording 10 of them in all to build a big lead against Spencer Westervalt. After multiple near-falls on the mat, Ritter was able to gain the right position to force Westervalt into a pin with 18 seconds remaining before the final period of action kicked into gear.
The Lions closed out their match with back-to-back forfeit wins from Evan Buchholz (160 pounds) and Noah Black (172 pounds) before Blake Cranmer survived an early back-and-forth duel with Kora Jones at 189 pounds to record the team’s final pin-fall win with six ticks left on the clock in the opening period.
All the energy from a big season-opening victory has now been loaded into the wheelhouse ahead of this weekend’s meet-up in Arkport for their annual Holiday Dual tournament. As for the outlook ahead, Carman says with a mixed bag of freshmen and sophomores along with his five seniors, the goal is simple: Keep getting better day after day.
“It’s a young group of kids, a young corps of freshmen and sophomores mixed in with our senior leadership,” he said. “We’re going to keep taking things one day at a time, and try to keep getting better. We’re off to a great start with some tough challenges ahead. These guys show up, they do a great job of being accountable, they do great in school and they work incredibly hard on the mat.”
The Arkport Holiday Dual Tournament will get set to get underway, beginning Saturday morning. Wellsville will resume regular season play next Tuesday night on the road, visiting the Bolivar-Richburg Wolverines for a 6:15 p.m. bout.
102 – Blake Geffers (WLSV) by for.
110 – Jayden Acker (WLSV) by for.
118 – Justin Wise (ADD) def. David Clark (WLSV) by pin, 3:07.
126 – Jacob Howe (ADD) def. Hayden Cunningham (WLSV) by pin, :35.
132 – Cade Sands (ADD) def. Jack Cicirello (WLSV) by pin, :49.
138 – Landon Stratton (WLSV) by for.
145 – Brayden Riley (WLSV) def. Noah Vall (ADD) by pin, :44
152 – Matt Ritter (WLSV) def. Spencer Westervalt (ADD) by pin, 3:42.
160 – Evan Buchholz (WLSV) by for.
172 – Noah Black (WLSV) by for.
189 – Blake Cranmer (WLSV) def. Kora Jones (ADD) by pin, 1:54.
*215 – Shane Davidson (WLSV) def. Camden Mahnke (ADD) by tech fall, 15-0.
285 – Evin Rought (WLSV) def. Collin Brown (ADD) by pin, :39.
-* indicates starting weight –