The Oak Ridge wrestling team didn’t know what to expect heading into last Wednesday’s dual meet with Folsom.
The Delta River League competition is uncharted territory for both Oak Ridge and Ponderosa this year, but the Trojans were well aware that the Bulldogs were coming in on the heels of four consecutive DRL championships.
What the night turned out to be was a gym packed with foot-stomping, chanting, avid fans getting their money’s worth as the meet’s outcome came down to the final bout of the night between Folsom’s Sam Morgan and Trojan Brandon Buriani in the 130-pound match.
The Bulldogs trailed much of the night but took a slim 33-31 lead on Connor Pollock’s (130) 15-5 major decision over Oak Ridge’s Trey Reese, setting up the battle between Buriani and Morgan.
The first period was scoreless until the pair traded reversals in the last 30 seconds. Buriani got the upper hand with another reversal early in the second and controlled Morgan for much of the last two periods to hold on to his 4-2 advantage.
But Morgan, a state-ranked wrestler, took advantage of Buriani’s one mistake with seconds left on the clock, catching him a Peterson for a reversal and near fall to win 6-4 — just enough to send the rival Bulldogs back to Folsom with a 36-31 victory.
The Trojans followed coach Casey Rhyan’s game plan and jumped out to a hefty lead but it wasn’t enough to hold on against Folsom’s strength in the middle weight classes.
“We’re a young team and I didn’t know what to expect,” Rhyan said. “We’ve never seen each other but we knew Folsom was good.”
After Folsom’s Matt Parker put the visitors in front 5-0 with a technical fall in the 135-pound match, Taylor Ellerman (140) wore down Folsom’s Nick Fiegner to earn an 8-4 decision.
“That was a great surprise win,” Rhyan said. “Taylor hasn’t wrestled since the middle of his freshman year, a year and a half. He did a good job.”
Folsom’s forfeit to Keaton Subjeck at 145s put the home team in front until the final two bouts.
After taking a narrow 2-1 lead in the first period, Trojan Alex Diaz (152) dominated Ryan Jensen for a 10-2 major decision.
Folsom added three points to the scoreboard when Isaias Diaz (160) decisioned Hugh Ellerman 10-7, but Zach Claiborne’s pin with 1:14 left in the second period over Alex Hurliman regained Troy’s momentum.
Hurliman was up 4-2 to start the second period with Claiborne in the down position. He escaped and scored a takedown, then rolled through for the fall.
“That pin was one of the big surprises on the night,” Rhyan said. “I knew we had to get off to a strong start and that really helped. Another big surprise was Xavier Lopez’ pin in the heavyweight match.”
Lopez’ pin of Parker Oreno came at the 1:25 mark in the first round, the fourth pin in as many bouts.
With the crowd stomping its feet in support, Oak Ridge captain Vince Waldhauser (189) needed just 36 seconds to pin Alex Wood with an arm bar. Folsom got six points back with Tevenn Lewis’ fall over Eric Rohrer (215), but those points were offset by Lopez’ victory.
But just as it looked like the Trojans were going to take down the defending DRL champs, momentum shifted to the Bulldogs. With both teams on their feet cheering their teammates, Folsom chipped away at the lead. Wins over Trojans Trevor Cazales (103) and Xavier Liongson (112) set the stage for the final three matches that sent Troy down to defeat.
“We had no expectations coming in; we just gave everything we had,” Waldhauser said. “Like coach said, ‘Matches like this are why we wrestle.’”