The Graham Falcons rarely find themselves on the losing end of wrestling matches, duals or otherwise. And especially not 46-10 defeats. Then again, Lakewood St. Edward isn’t just another program.
The annual clash of state powers took place Friday night at Graham High School with St. Ed’s winning 12 of the 14 matches. That sounds like a rough night for the Falcons on the surface, but six of those losses were by five points or less.
“The first four matches could have gone either way. Unfortunately they didn’t go our way,” first-year Graham coach Travis McIntosh said. “I wasn’t upset with the wrestling whatsoever. We just have to work on finishing the match the way we start the match. You have to give credit to St. Ed’s guys. They finished the way they started. They won every single one of the close ones.”
The match was originally scheduled for 5 p.m. Saturday and moved up to 1:30 p.m. then to Friday night with the winter storm forecast.
“I’m very glad St. Ed’s could make the trip,” McIntosh said. “As far as the score, it wasn’t pretty. But we lost six close matches. We could have easily started out leading 22-0.”
The teams have combined to win 52 individual state championships. Graham has won 18 consecutive D-II individual state titles and 25 titles overall including state duals. St. Ed’s has won 20 of the last 22 D-I individual state tournament titles.
On Friday, St. Edward won the first four matches before Graham ended the run with consecutive wins. Graham’s Nick Moore pinned Wyatt Richter at 132 pounds. Teammate Alek Martin scored a 12-3 win over Evan Bennett at 138.
“Those two guys – not that the rest of my team aren’t competitors – but those guys love to compete,” McIntosh said. “They love to go out and show their skills and show their tools.
“Nick is a competitor. He likes to go out and get the fall. We knew if we were going to have a chance to win the dual that Nick Moore had to get a fall. Nick Moore did his job.”
Martin wrestled a St. Ed’s backup and his win pulled the Falcons within 12-10.
“St. Ed’s backups would be stars anywhere else. Alek Martin had a kid who was a hammer. Over the next three years people are going to know who Evan Bennett is. Martin went out there and landed a decision … to do his job. Honestly, Martin was not upset but he wanted to score more points for his team. You have to appreciate that.”
In other Graham results, Nolan Gessler lost 4-1 at 106. Trace Braun lost 5-1 at 113, Dawson Show lost 10-5 at 120 and Chris Kelly lost 7-3 at 126. Following the two Falcons’ wins, Dar Spitler lost by technical fall at 145, Jeff Thomas was pinned at 152, Isaiah Stickley lost 21-8 at 160, Eric Thomas lost 14-7 at 170, Nolan Neeves lost 17-3 at 182, Will Mannier was pinned at 195, Trey Pence lost 8-5 at 220 and Johnny Shafer lost 6-3 at 285.
“You can always get better off a good loss. It’s the wins that guys get complacent on. It’s the losses that guys have to go back to square one and see what’s working and what’s missing. There’s no reason to be mad. Hey, (on Friday) St. Ed’s was the better team. But it was still a war, it was still a good dual. The matches were good matches. We have something to learn off of and move forward from.”