Winning the final five matches Wednesday including closing back-to-back pins by Hugh Ellerman and Vince Waldhauser, Oak Ridge High wrestling rallied for a 38-28 victory over visiting Sheldon.
The Senior Night win gave the Trojans third place over the Huskies with a 3-2 Delta River League record. Before the match, the program acknowledged its seniors —Blake Brown, Jon Muniz, Andrew Sylvester, Alex Diaz, Brandon Buriani and Waldhauser.
Sheldon (2-3) held 22-6 and 28-12 leads before Oak Ridge mounted its challenge.
“It was a big-time comeback. We knew it’d be tough where we started (in the lineup),” Trojan coach Casey Rhyan said. “We had a tough match at 89s, got a pin at 215s and then our heavyweight, 03s and 12s are all first-year wrestlers.
“But we’re tough in the middle and that’s where we made our run. Wrestling Division I was rough but we liked it — it’s a great league.”
Ido Kinel (125 pounds) gave Oak Ridge life in Troy’s comeback, Ellerman gave the hosts the lead and Waldhauser locked up the victory as the last wrestler and the ace in the hole.
Oak Ridge held a brief 6-3 lead after Xavier Lopez’ first-period pin in his 215-pound bout but the Huskies won the next four for a 22-6 advantage. Next was Kinel, who trailed 5-2 before a flurry of action between him and Sheldon’s Jason Hammond ended with the Trojan getting the pin with nine seconds left in the opening period.
“I was JV last season and some of this year but was bumped to varsity. I wrestle my hardest every match and do everything I can,” Kinel said. “I got the points out of the Granby roll and took off from there.”
Though the 130 and 135 matches went to the Huskies, Oak Ridge took off at 140s as Taylor Ellerman snapped his opponent down, spun around for the second-period takedown and then turned Mark Trujillo to his back for six points.
Now within 10 points of the lead, Keaton Subjeck (145) ground out a 10-1 major decision to tack four more points to Troy’s side and a 10-2 major decision by Diaz (152), brought Oak Ridge closer at 26-28.
Down to the final two matches, Hugh built a 4-0 lead after one period and allowed an escape in the second before getting the pin with 15 seconds left to put the Trojans in front.
“We were behind the whole time which made me angry but seeing my brother (Taylor) win fired me up and I saw what had to be done,” Hugh said. “I was surprised how many points they (Sheldon) had and their strong start. On my pin, I used an arm bar and kept wrist control over to a figure four.”
There was no chance the Huskies could reclaim the lead against Waldhauser, Oak Ridge’s state and nationally-ranked 171-pounder. Seventeen seconds later it was over.
“Seventeen seconds? … huh. I used a snap, cradle, put him to his back and that was it. My goal is the same whether it’s to get or protect the lead — get a pin,” said Waldhauser before reflecting on his final appearance at home and the postseason.
“It’s a little crazy — it seems like yesterday it was my freshman year and before my first dual meet against Ponderosa I was so nervous I couldn’t feel my forearms. It’s bittersweet — sad because the kids on my team are like brothers and I’m leaving but on the other hand I’m excited to go to college and begin a new chapter.
“I think I’m ready for the postseason but you can never be good enough. I’ve trained hard all season — wrestling’s my whole life — I better be ready.”