By Mark Ruschau
WAPAKONETA -- The Celina wrestling team came up huge Tuesday as they went on the road and posted a 34-24 Western Buckeye League dual meet victory over the Wapakoneta Redskins at Wapakoneta High School. It marks the second straight year Celina has beaten the perennially tough Redskins.
The win pushes Celina's conference dual mark to 5-0 while Wapakoneta falls to 2-1 with the loss.
"We haven't won here in years and it feels good," said Celina coach Joel Zacharias. "The kids wrestled hard, all the matches were close. We got the pins when we needed them and we also stuck in close matches in the end when we needed them."
Like all sweet victories, this win did not come easy for the MatDogs as they had to rally from an early hole and then had to hang on with the final outcome not being decided until the final match.
The outcome-deciding match came at 130 pounds between Celina's Nick Gray, a league placer from last year, and Wapakoneta district qualifier Jon Zofkie. Celina led 28-24 and a technical fall win or pin by Zofkie would have given the 'Skins the match win. Gray took the lead at the end of the first period with a take down with just 28 seconds left in the period. Early in the second period, Zofkie was called for a dangerous move as he body-slammed Gray to the mat. A few seconds later, Zofkie again was called for a dangerous move as he body-slammed Gray to the mat and the offical called the match as a forfiet win for Gray and with the six points, Celina sealed the match win.
The win by Gray capped a wild flourish of wins for Celina as it rallied from an 18-12 hole after seven of the 14 matches.
Zach Mertz got the 'Dogs back in the match as he scored an 8-0 major decision over Nick Twining at 215 to cut the Redskins' lead to 18-14.
Heavyweght Sam Eshellman gave Celina its first lead of the night as he recorded a pin over James Byrne with just 25 seconds left in the opening period.
"Sam's match was one of those that could of gone either way," said Zacharias. "That was one of the matches that went our way for once. There were a lot of close matches that went our way."
Tyler Thees and Andy Swain came up huge for Celina as they each recorded one-point wins in their matches to give the 'Dogs a 28-18 lead in the team race.
At 103, Thees led 3-2 entering the final period but quickly gave up a reversal to his opponent Chad Snyder and trailed 4-3 with 1:07 left in the match. Thees won the match with 30 second left as he scored a reversal. Thees then had to hang on through a bout of vomiting late in the match to score the win.
"At the end Tyler didn't know if he was winning or losing," said Zacharias. "We told him that he was winning and that all he had to do was hold him down for six seconds and he did a great job."
Swain and his opponent Brian Bailey were tied at 2-2 entering the final period in their match at 112. Swain was awarded a point with 35 seconds left in the match when was Bailey was called for stalling for the second time in the period. Swain then sealed the match whene he scored an escape to take a 4-2 lead before settling for a 4-3 win.
Garrett Gray and Jantzen Hinton continued their fine seasons as they each recorded pins for the other Celina wins.
Celina is back in action on Thursday as it travels to Bath for another Western Buckeye League match.