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St. Clairsville Edges Ferry

Photo by Kim North St. Clairsville’s Cody Stecyk, left, squares off against Martins Ferry’s Noah Duck during Tuesday’s match.

ST. CLAIRSVILLE — It was hard to tell the winning coach from the losing coach following Tuesday night’s dual high school wrestling match between Martins Ferry and St. Clairsville.

The Red Devils built leads of 13-6, 28-12 and 31-18 only to watch the Purple Riders battle back, but fall a point shy, 31-30, on John Jenkins Court.

“It was a lot closer than I expected but, honestly, I just told the guys that I was more worried about getting matchups,” St. Clairsville coach Joel Sansone said. “We’re a little short-handed right now. We’ve got a couple of starters out of the lineup. We tried to drop a weight class here and there, sometimes it worked out, sometimes it didn’t.”

St. Clairsville (5-0) competed without OVAC runner-up and two-time Division III state qualifier Caden Stout and Josh DeNoble.

“Hats off to Martins Ferry. They brought it,” Sansone said. “They have a lot more experience this year so far than we do. We haven’t seen the level of competition that Martins Ferry has so far, and that’s not taking anything away from the competition that we have faced. This is just what we needed … a good, hard-fought match where a lot of guys got a good six minutes in.

“The guys who won, they know what they are doing right but they’ve also got some things to work,” he continued. “The guys that lost, they have to realize they have to work a little harder in the (wrestling) room because you can’t mimic good competition.”

Martins Ferry (1-3), which competed without Zak Dobson (220), led 6-0 when Kyler Oliver was awarded a forfeit at 106.

A decision by Gannon Kazmirski (113); pin by Zach McKeever (120) and major decision by Harrison Kazmirski (126) gave the hosts a 13-6 advantage, but Martins Ferry closed to within a point, 13-12, when Tyler Donaher (132) won by forfeit.

St. Clairsville won the next three weight classes for a 16-point bulge as NCAA Division I signee Koen Kish (138) and Mason McCort (145) registered back-to-back pins in 1:38 and 3:34, respectively, and Nathan Witsberger (152) earned a come-from-behind, 5-4, nod over Shayden Fogle. Kish is headed to Clarion, Pa.

Martins Ferry’s Chase Goff and St. Clairsville’s Austin DaRe squared off at 160 with the Purple Riders returning state qualifier leading 4-2 after one period. However, the Red Devils’ senior held a 9-6 lead in the second period before Goff secured a reversal that resulted in a pin at the 3:43 mark.

After a double forfeit at 170, St. Clairsville’s Jacob Walker (182) rallied past Johnny McFarland, 7-5, with a takedown just before time expired in the third period. That gave the hosts a 31-18 lead with three matches to go.

However, Martins Ferry used a third-period pin (5:37) by Noah Duck (195) and a hard-earned, 5-4, decision by Kameron Hughes (220) over state-ranked Reese Skaggs to pull to within, 31-27, entering the final match of the night. Hughes weighed in at 181.1 while Skaggs tipped the scales at 206.2.

Needing a pin to complete the comeback, the Purple Riders had to settle for a 3-1 decision by Zeke Bruney in falling one point short.

“Obviously, the dual didn’t turn out the way we wanted but I am happy. I thought everyone wrestled well,” Martins Ferry coach Chad Ware said. “With the younger guys it’s one little thing here and there … a takedown here or an escape there. It changes the whole complexion of the dual, but it’s experience for everybody.

“We ended on a high note by bumping Kameron up and he beat (Reese) Skaggs who is one of the top 220-pounders in the state,” Ware said.

He also had praise for Goff.

“Chase is a gamer. He has a motor where he is non-stop,” Ware said. “He’s always in a match, no mater what the score is.”

Both teams are back in action next Tuesday when the America’s Best Value Inn Invitational takes place, starting at 10 a.m.

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