By TRACY WATSON
For The Intelligencer
MOUNDSVILLE - It was a match that Wheeling Park coach Jack Doyle had been readying his squad for since Monday, and it only made him smile when the pill was drawn and it was announced as the opening match of its dual with arch-rival John Marshall.
Wheeling Park’s Brandon Foose (right) shoots toward John Marshall’s Josh Rine during their 132-pound bout.
While the Patriots' Geremy Paige and Monarchs' Cullen Ebbert gave fans one of the most entertaining matches of the night, Paige's victory was a real momentum builder in what turned into a Park triumph.
Battling back from three early takedowns, Paige rallied for a 14-10 nod against Ebbert and the Patriots followed with four pins and a technical fall in posting an impressive 56-16 victory against John Marshall at the Moundsville Fieldhouse Wednesday night.
Ebbert led 4-2 after a period with a pair of takedowns and two Paige escapes. Paige, who was recently named the Huff Award winner for the state's top defensive football player, added an escape to start the second to make it 4-3.
Another Ebbert takedown and another escape made it 6-4 before Paige got aggressive, and knotted at 8-8 late in the third got a takedown and near fall to take control.
"It's funny, when we drew that pill and it came out 220 it was just what we had hoped for," Doyle said. "It is a match we have been building for since Monday in our practice room.
"Geremy was ready to go and he showed it, even though this was only his second match and he still isn't in wrestling shape coming off football. He showed an awful lot (Wednesday) and he finished that match and won with his heart."
John Marshall coach Ted Zervos was aware of the key early match, and even tried to talk Ebbert into moving up.
"I knew we had a big one to start at 220," Zervos said. "Paige is a strong kid and he is going to be a kid that Cullen is going to have to compete with at OVACs, the regional and state meets.
"Actually, because they are going to see each other so much during the season, I wanted Cullen to wrestle heavyweight, but he is a competitor and he wanted to wrestle Paige."
Making things even better for the Patriots (3-0) was heavyweight Davian Cooper, who not only recorded his first career win but did it in style with a 2:16 pin of Nathan Simmons for a quick 9-0 Wheeling Park lead.
A forfeit victory and the Monarchs' only pin of the night, coming when 113-pounder Brandon Bertrand turned James Parsons in 3:31, put the hosts up briefly at 12-9. However, John Marshall's only other vicotry came at 132 where Josh Rine beat Brandon Foose, 15-2.
While Austin DiGiandomenico (138) and Isaiah Myers (195) both recorded impressive individual victory, Dylan Taylor (145), Jonny Davis (160) and Nick Tustin (170) all recorded falls. Taylor's was the quickest, coming in just 17 seconds. Eric Banks won by technical fall, 20-5, over Marshall Eckleberry.
"I think the kids did a great job up and down the lineup," Doyle added. "Our heavyweight got his first ever victory and what a big win by Austin DiGiandomenico over Dylan Hall.
"We had some matches where we gave up takedowns early on, but those kids all continued to battle and get the job done. I think that throughout the year you are going to see us win a lot of matches in the third period.
"I also want to mention Eric Banks, who was wrestling his first match in two years and goes out and gets a technical fall. He is just so fast. You see it on the football field and it just transitions so well to wrestling.
"We have a few other kids that are very fast and physical that we expect big things from in Dallas Baciak, Dylan Taylor and Jonny Davis."
Zervos says a lot of the Monarchs' problems stem from too few bodies in the practice room and kids wrestling in different weight classes.
"We will move on from this," he said. "Wheeling Park is a quality team and they were very aggressive and physical with us (Wednesday) and they deserve a lot of credit.
"Our problems are ones that will be corrected. Basically, we had a couple of kids who did not make weight and were wrestling out of class for the first time and that is tough to do when you are not accustomed to that.
"And even though we felt we were ready coming in, we didn't know what kind of energy level we would have because we are short on partners in the practice room. That is the kind of thing that makes a difference in the third period, and we lost a few in the third period.
"Those are the kind of things that can change over the course of a month, and that is what we are counting on."