FOUNTAIN CITY, Ind.
Northeastern wrestling coach Bronson Curtis is aware that with only seven wrestlers on his roster, dual victories are going to be hard to come by this season.
But in individual matches, Curtis has talent and strength to rack up 6’s for his team and when the time comes, dual meet victories may follow.
That victory came on Thursday, courtesy of pins from the three seniors honored for Senior Night, as the Knights edged Tri-Eastern Conference and Wayne County foe Lincoln 24-18.
Due to a scorekeeping error, the final score was initially said to be 19-18 Northeastern.
After the final match of the night, the scoreboard read 18-18 and the first tiebreaker criteria went to the team with the most head-to-head victories, which was Northeastern.
The Knights won three to Lincoln’s two, but upon further review, the final score was corrected to 24-18, because officials had failed to credit Northeastern with a forfeit victory.
Seniors Cody Handley, Austin Wages and Austin Finney pinned opponents for the Knights, while Braxton Brush earned six points via forfeit at 132 to total the 24 points for Northeastern.
Lincoln’s Aaron Isaacs and Austin Shank earned pins for the Golden Eagles and Jesse Newton earned six points via forfeit at 113.
“That’s great,” Curtis said of his seniors all earning victories. “I told the underclassmen too, you want to send the seniors out with the win. It’s a team effort.
” … We had a real hard practice last night, real technical practice and they didn’t do a lot of the same things we did against Centerville (on Tuesday). Technically we looked better, but there’s always a lot of room for improvement.”
There could not have been much of a better start to the night than what Finney did, however.
Two days after tying a school record for the quickest pin in 10 seconds, Finney kicked off the match by pinning Lincoln’s Justin Black in 30 seconds.
“It’s actually really nice, because, especially for our Senior Night, the last match here, it’s really nice to win it and it feels good,” said Finney, who qualified for semistate as a junior at 152.
Four double forfeits later, Lincoln heavyweight Austin Shank returned the favor by pinning Northeastern’s Trevor Bunger — also in 30 seconds.
A Northeastern forfeit at 113 gave the Golden Eagles a short 12-6 lead, before Isaacs stretched it to 18-6 with a hard-earned pin at 126.
Isaacs built a 9-0 lead into the third period, before finally pinning freshman Nick Dargie at 4:51.
Northeastern earned six points with a Lincoln forfeit at 132, but those were never added to the scoreboard, causing the short confusion at the end of the head-to-head matches.
The remaining seniors, Wages and Handley, followed with pins, Wages at 138 and Handley at 152.
Wages trailed briefly 2-0, but battled back to lead 7-2, before finally pinning Austin Linville in 4:44.
“I just went out there with confidence, didn’t think anything negative, kept my head straight and my focus was on beating the guy, putting him on his back,” said Wages, who suffered a scary moment on Tuesday by falling on his head on the wood floor.
“Today my match it was good, it felt good. I came off an injury and I didn’t want to lose on my Senior Night at all. I have a good team. I’m happy to be with the seniors that I’ve got, Austin Finney and Cody Handley.”
Handley, a state qualifier at 138 a year ago, wrapped up the night with a pin in 3:56, and is 8-0. Handley is ranked No. 8 in the state at 145 by IndianaMat.
With a young Lincoln team, head coach Ryan Ragen was pleased with his team getting mat experience as wrestlers from both teams moved up weight classes, and he was especially pleased by the victories from Shank and Isaacs, regional qualifiers a year ago.
Isaacs was also a TEC champion at 106 and Shank finished second at 220.
“We’re both shorthanded. I knew that if Linville moved down, then they would probably bump up Finney and Handley, and that would give us more matches here, because I didn’t want to come here and not get any kids mat time,” Ragen said. ” … I think the main thing that we’re getting right now is experience. We’ve got a lot of younger guys and that mat time is important. I think it’s going to show through come time for conference. A lot of our guys are going to start moving a lot, doing a lot better.”